OXFORD City Council has revealed it may try to get a Compulsory Purchase Order to help a new operator buy Oxford’s beleaguered greyhound stadium and save it from destruction.

The authority has also said it would allow ‘a small number of houses’ to be built on the site if it would help fund the reopening of the stadium for leisure use.

The council has included both options in a specific policy on the Oxford Stadium in its new Local Plan for development.

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It says the aim of the policy is to bring the stadium in Blackbird Leys back into use, but also warned that without the policy ‘the city council would be unlikely to be able to stop the permanent loss of the stadium’.

The Local Plan – which outlines development until 2036 – is currently being examined by Government-appointed Planning Inspectors, who will decide whether or not each policy is ‘sound’ and can be included.

If the plan is approved then it will be formally adopted and legally must be considered in all planning decisions.


While that process is continuing, however, the council has also produced a new report exploring how it could help a private company or charity bring the much-missed stadium back into use as a leisure facility.

That report will be discussed by the council’s cabinet on Wednesday, November 13.

The report makes it clear that Oxford City Council would never buy Oxford Stadium using taxpayers’ money and has no intention of bringing the stadium into public ownership.

However, it could use a Compulsory Purchase Order to help a third party organisation, like a private company or charity, buy the building.

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Should the Planning Inspectors find that the Oxford Stadium planning policy is sound, the report sets out that the council would consider the following steps to bring Oxford Stadium back into use:

• In the first instance, 'the council hopes that the current landowner will reopen the stadium for leisure and community uses'

• However, 'if this does not happen within a timely period, the city council will seek to take on a facilitating role and bring in a development partner or leisure operator with a viable business plan to buy Oxford Stadium and fund the redevelopment'

• Finally, 'if the landowner is not willing to sell the site – and only as an absolute last resort – the city council could use compulsory purchase order powers to buy the site to enable a third party operator to bring the facility back into use'.

If this 'absolute last resort option' is deemed to be necessary, the council said it would produce a report explaining the details of the redevelopment, justifying the use of compulsory purchase powers, and explaining how the development partner or leisure operator would fund the project.


Councillor Linda Smith with other residents who have campaigned to get the stadium reopened, pictured in March 2019. Picture: Ed Nix

The compulsory purchase order would then need to be authorised by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Oxford Stadium operated as a greyhound racing and speedway venue for almost 70 years from its opening in 1939. It last hosted professional sport in 2012.

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Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, said: "Oxford Stadium is a valuable community asset and we have always said that we would like to see it reopen for leisure or community use to benefit the residents of Oxford.

“But the city council cannot fund that reopening with taxpayers’ money, and the business that takes over the stadium and reopens it for the community must be able to stand on its own two feet.

“We now await the decision from the Government-appointed Planning Inspector as to whether or not our policy seeking to protect Oxford Stadium for leisure and community use is sound."