THE developer looking to flatten Oxford’s historic greyhound stadium has dismissed arguments that it needs to be saved for its community facilities.
Galliard Homes has commissioned a report into the impact of the closure of Oxford Stadium as it prepares for a planning inquiry later this year.
And it picks apart Oxford City Council’s argument that the stadium is highly important for the local community – a statement made when it refused Galliard planning permission in January.
In the report – written by Regeneris Consulting – Galliard says: “The site will result in loss of community facilities.
“However, the Blackbird Leys area currently has a significant over-provision of community facilities.
“There is more than sufficient capacity in the local area’s leisure and community facilities to accommodate the community and social activities currently taking place at Oxford Stadium (the dance classes, Taekwondo classes and church group).
“In the worst case scenario, the redevelopment may mean that the go-karting and motorcycle training businesses using the ancillary facilities at the stadium close.
“However, there are alternative providers of these services in and around Oxford City.”
Galliard applied to the city council for planning permission to demolish the stadium and replace it with 220 homes, but this was turned down by the east area planning committee. One of the reasons was that the proposal would result in the complete loss of all the community facilities on the site.
But Galliard is now taking the issue to appeal, which means a decision will be made by a government inspector in the summer, and is now preparing its arguments.
Andy Cooper, who runs Karting Oxford which is based at the stadium and is involved in the campaign to save it, said Galliard was mistaken in some of its claims.
He said: “What Galliard has identified in their survey is that there are other go-karting venues in the area, but the nearest outdoor go-karting track is 75 miles away in Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, and that’s one of our main selling points.
“They have not done the proper research and I think we have a very strong case if the right questions are asked at the inquiry.
“If you try to run this as a single purpose venue, you will struggle, but if you combine the dog racing with the speedway, it is more than viable.
“The facilities here are second to none.”
The stadium was opened in 1939 by Lord Denham and was used for greyhound racing until 2012 when its owners, the Greyhound Racing Association, closed it, claiming it was no longer viable.
It has also been home to speedway, with local team the Oxford Cheetahs winning three British League titles.