Late new bid to return dog racing to Oxford Stadium

Oxford Mail: Late new bid for stadium Late new bid for stadium

A LATE runner has stepped in to buy Oxford Stadium just days before the deadline for bids closed.

Wimbledon-based estate agent Robert Brinkley, who owns around 50 greyhounds, revealed he has put in a formal bid with agents CBRE to buy the Sandy Lane site for an undisclosed sum. The 28-year-old, who owns the Hillside Kennels in Surrey, put the bid in on Thursday ahead of last night’s 5.30pm deadline for proposals to either buy or lease the stadium.

But CBRE was unable to confirm how many bids it had received.

It has also emerged that GRA Acquisition, the registered owner of the site, is hoping to overturn the city council’s decision to register the site as a conservation area with a judicial review.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail yesterday about his bid, Mr Brinkley said: “It is an opportunity for me to do what I have always wanted, which is to own a greyhound track. Hopefully I can bring greyhound racing back to Oxford sooner rather than later.

“It is a great track, and has been for many years. It is not often that a track of that calibre comes up.”
Mr Brinkley, who has been an estate agent for 10 years, said he would also be interested in bringing speedway back to the stadium.
He said he became interested in greyhounds six years ago because his first office in Wimbledon was near a dog track.
Former promotions manager at the stadium Mick Wheble said: “I know Robert’s father from years back in greyhound racing and he is a very good man for the sport
“He is purely interested in
greyhound racing and bringing it forward.”
Last night businessman Nick Budimir confirmed Oxfordshire farmer and greyhound owner Robert Tyrrell had also put in a bid to buy the stadium.
Mr Budimir, who is helping Mr Tyrrell in his bid to buy the stadium, said GRA Acquisition’s bid to challenge the decision to include the stadium in a conservation area would not succeed.
He said: “It is absolute nonsense. I don’t think the judicial review will go through.”
Oxford City Council’s decision to designate the site as a conservation area effectively halted in their tracks plans to demolish the stadium and replace it with 220 homes.
Shortly after it was made development company Galliard dropped its planning appeal and the site was put up for lease.
City council spokesman Chris Lee said: “The owners of Oxford Greyhound Stadium have applied for a judicial review in relation to the council’s decision last month to designate a conversation area at the stadium. 
“We have issued instructions to our lawyers to defend our decision through the courts.”
This is the first time a city conservation area has been taken to a judicial review.
The news has been taken by some campaigners as proof that the developer remains committed to demolishing the stadium.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “It is very disappointing, but maybe predictable, that they are trying everything they can to keep alive their plans for housing when it is absolutely clear that it is contrary to planning policy and not what the people of Oxford want.”
Former speedway world champion Sam Ermolenko is among those  backing  the campaign to save the stadium.
The 1993 world champion, known as Sudden Sam, was one of the guests of honour at last week’s charity golf day which raised more than £10,000 for the campaign’s fighting fund.
Mr Ermolenko, who beat Oxford Cheetahs legend Hans Nielsen to his world title, said: “It is so sad to see that place closed. The memories I have around there are amazing.”
The Greyhound Racing Association closed the stadium in December 2012, claiming it was no longer financially viable.

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