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Stadium fans keep up fight as developer lodges appeal
6:00am Tuesday 21st January 2014 in News
CAMPAIGNERS vowed to “continue the fight” to keep Oxford’s stadium after developers launched an appeal over a failed homes plan.
They spoke after Galliard Homes launched the appeal over its unsuccessful bid for 220 homes on the site of the Sandy Lane stadium.
Oxford City Council rejected the plans – to flatten the former speedway and greyhound stadium – on January 8.
But the independent Planning Inspectorate will now make a final decision with a public hearing expected for the Town Hall.
Campaigners said they were not surprised by the appeal and would contnue to fight to get back greyhound racing.
The stadium closed in December 2012 after owners the Greyhound Racing Association said it was no longer financially viable.
Kennington’s Mick Wheble, 64, a stadium worker for 30 years, said: “It’s expected. We thought they would do that.
“All of us will now write to the Planning Inspectorate. We will take representatives to the Planning Inspectorate and make our feelings known. We are going to fight it all the way. It’s a vital community asset for the people.”
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith – who backs the campaign – said: “It is vital that the views of the public are heard.
“We are determined to save the stadium, which is a fantastic facility, and would be even better in the hands of owners committed to making it a success.”
Among the reasons for the council’s refusal was the loss of “exceptional” facilities, design of the homes and proposed 35 per cent affordable housing. Council policy is for 50 per cent.
Mr Smith said: “The planning arguments are overwhelmingly on our side, and I know the city council will be making a powerful case too.”
Oxford Speedway Supporters Club chairman Gavin Beckley said: “The city council have made their views clear. We are reasonably confident their decision will be upheld.
“Community facilities are more important than housing and the stadium is not something we could replace.”
Former Oxford United star Joey Beauchamp added: “Without it there’s not a lot round Oxford and so I would like to see it open for racing again.”
Executive member for planning Colin Cook said: “We are confident this appeal will not succeed for all the reasons put forward in planning committee meeting.”
Coventry Greyhound Racing promoter Harry Findlay wants to take over the site but is expected to await the outcome of the appeal.
Galliard Homes declined to comment.
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