Stadium’s business and leisure dream

The disused Witney Community Stadium

The disused Witney Community Stadium

First published in News

WITNEY Community Stadium could be developed for business and leisure but not housing bosses said, after a failed bid to bring top flight rugby to the site.

They spoke after last week’s news that London Welsh will remain at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium for three more years.

The Greene King IPA Championship team had been in months of talks about Witney’s mostly unused stadium since Witney Town left last year.

On the Edge, which owns the Downs Road stadium had planning permission to build stands for 10,000 spectators.

Co-director Gavin Brown ruled out housing as the site is not earmarked in West Oxfordshire District Council policies for residential use.

He said discussions are at an early stage about its future. “There may well be companies and businesses that want to expand, Witney is growing at a tremendous rate.”

“It’s still a sports stadium and it could potentially cope with Premiership rugby so the door remains open.

“Whatever we do we have to provide sports facilities for West Oxfordshire and we want to do that. That will become part of the next plan.”

Mr Brown said of talks: “We’re bitterly disappointed, we can’t hide the fact it was a blow.

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“We saw huge opportunities, not only from London Welsh but for the whole of Witney and West Oxfordshire.

“Potentially, a wonderful thing could have happened for tourism, sport and everything.

“A lot of people have been involved with getting to where we have and it’s cost us quite a lot of money, so to suddenly lose it all pretty quickly is annoying.”

Tower Hill junior teams have recently used the ground for free after its own pitches flooded.

Former Witney Town club director Andy Lyne said: “The whole problem that the club had was the operating costs playing in the stadium because the rent and rates were quite high.

“Whoever plays there has got quite considerable overheads to concern themselves with. Whether or not anyone has got the wherewithal to take on the challenge of trying to run a football club in a stadium that big is a totally different ball game.

“It was built for football and that’s what it should be used for.” Mr Lyne said: It’s very sad the way it’s all panned out.”

West Oxfordshire District Council’s Richard Langridge said: “It’s a great shame for Witney that they won’t be coming here.”

The cabinet member for local economy, communities and culture said: “It would have had a great impact on sports throughout the district.”

London Welsh chairman Bleddyn Phillips said: “We are very grateful to both the current owners and West Oxfordshire District Council.

“We will continue to have a good relationship with Witney.

“We never used Witney as a stalking horse, that’s just not the case. There still remains a very good option at Witney.”

He said the club would have needed millions to develop the Witney stadium for rugby.

Comments (1)

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8:14pm Thu 10 Apr 14

The-Oracle says...

If the stadium is developed for any thing other than Football. I look forward to the new facility which must be up and running to provide equal or better provision for Association Football in Witney, which I believe is within the covenant placed on the ground at Downs Road.
If the stadium is developed for any thing other than Football. I look forward to the new facility which must be up and running to provide equal or better provision for Association Football in Witney, which I believe is within the covenant placed on the ground at Downs Road. The-Oracle
  • Score: 2

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