A PLAN which could bring Oxford Stadium back into use has been put in motion by the city council.

At the Oxford City Cabinet meeting tonight, councillors approved a special policy to bring the stadium in Blackbird Leys back into use.

There was clapping from a small group of Save Oxford Stadium campaigners in the public seating area.

Though the special policy has been approved by the cabinet, it is only part of a wider new Local Plan 2034, which is due to be examined by Government-appointed planning inspectors at the end of November.

A Local Plan is a document which sets out what areas within a council's remit can be built on, and also sets out the rules for what sorts of buildings can be constructed.

Oxford Mail:

Oxford Stadium earlier this year. Picture: Ed Nix.

Without the special policy, the council would be unlikely to be able to stop the permanent loss of the former Speedway stadium.

Cabinet member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, Alex Hollingsworth said: “What we are looking at here is the last piece of our local plan work around the stadium. The local plan inquiry work begins later this month and all the local plans are being judged against their deliverability.”

Mr Hollingsworth said government inspectors might not approve the council’s policy for the stadium if they did not think it was deliverable, but said if they did, the council would try to make it a reality.

He added the council would consider a compulsory purchase of the stadium from current owners Cowley Property Investments Ltd as a ‘last resort’ measure as part of the plans, if it was approved by the inspectors.

Mr Hollingsworth said: “The current landowner may not wish to wholly co-operate.

“It is in these circumstances and only in these circumstances that we will use a compulsory purchase order to go ahead.”

Oxford Mail:

Picture: Ed Nix.

A report to the council cabinet gave options of how it could bring in a third-party operator to return Oxford Stadium to use.

This third party operator would likely be a private company.

Mr Hollingsworth said: "We are not looking to take Oxford Stadium into public ownership. Running a sports stadium is something we at the council would not decide to do."

The report to the cabinet made clear that the council would not buy Oxford Stadium using taxpayers’ money and has no intention of bringing the stadium into public ownership.

Instead, the council would aim to act as ‘a facilitator’ so that a private company could buy the Sandy Lane stadium from the current landlord in order to reopen it as a leisure or community facility.

The special policy was welcomed by Councillor Linda Smith, who said it showed the council’s ‘commitment to not letting the stadium fall into further rack and ruin.’

Councillors and officers urged members of the public to contact the planning inspectors to express their views about the stadium.

There are two upcoming dates which Save Oxford Stadium Campaigners have urged members of the public to attend.

The first is a public meeting at the Chequers Inn in Headington Quarry on Tuesday, November 26, at 7pm.

The second is December 3, when the next stage of discussion about the Local Plan will begin.

Speedway came to a halt after 59 seasons at the stadium following the 2007 season, with greyhound racing also ceasing in 2012.

The council then placed both heritage status and conservation status on the stadium, which have tied the hands of stadium owners Cowley Property Investments Ltd, in terms of any housing development on the site.

Earlier this year, all the remaining businesses at the stadium - the go-karts, dance studio and motorcycle training – ceased to operate.