OXFORD’S greyhound racing stadium could be facing closure to make way for a major housing development.

A number of sites are proposed to take new homes and a city council report suggests that Oxford Stadium, in Sandy Lane, “is unlikely to continue trading” for much longer.

The document claims the stadium’s owner believes the site could be used to provide new homes in a regenerated Blackbird Leys.

The Town Hall said the stadium’s owners no longer believes greyhound racing is viable at the stadium.

However, the Greyhound Racing Association said it was “not about to cease racing at Oxford”.

The new housing development plan will be presented to members of the council’s executive today.

It says: “The owner has indicated the greyhound stadium is unlikely to continue trading in the near future, so the landowner is exploring other opportunities for the site and has suggested housing.

“With the viability of a greyhound stadium in question, it is unlikely that other commercial leisure uses would be viable in this location, considering that the Ozone leisure complex is nearby and they would also be likely to be a high traffic generator.

“Housing would be a more suitable use and would help bring much needed housing into the Blackbird Leys regeneration area.”

But Michael Crofton-Briggs, the city council’s head of planning, said: “It’s a major leisure activity for local people, but we do not have the ability to stop an individual leisure activity being shut.

“Our understanding is that the nature of greyhound racing has changed and there’s a lot of online betting rather than people going to the dogs.

“The planning system has to recognise that these things change.”

He admitted the council had already had tentative discussions with the stadium owners about the site’s potential use for housing.

Mr Crofton-Briggs also suggested the number of homes on the site would be in the low hundreds.

If the housing development did go ahead, it is thought the council would seek a contribution from developers towards a community facilities for Blackbird Leys, he said.

Gordon Roper, the chairman of Blackbird Leys Parish Council, said: “It would be very sad to lose the stadium. I have lived in Oxford many years and we all have memories of great times at the dogs and speedway.

“I hope they will see what could still be done perhaps to reintroduce speedway or track racing, which I’m sure would be well supported.

“But if not, I hope it will not just be housing.

“We would want to see some sports or recreational area for local people.”

Dog owner John Alcock, the chairman of the Oxford Retired Greyhound Trust, said: “If this comes to fruition it would be a great loss. I have been an ever-present here for 30 years – it’s my second home.

“We have one of the best speedway stadia in the country, but they refuse to have speedway. What’s more, what will happen to the 400 dogs if it is closed?”

Trainer Gilly Hepden, who been racing greyhounds at Cowley for 14 years, said: “It’s my livelihood. There would be no income, not to mention what I would do.

“I have 56 hounds in my Chipping Norton kennels. Where would they go?

“There’s no alternative for local trainers for miles around, with Reading, Milton Keynes and Coventry going by the wayside.

“Oxford makes money, make no mistake.

We have a brilliant general manager in Maureen Ridley, who works her socks off to make it a success.”

Bookmaker Richard Dunn, owner of RD Racing, said: “I would be absolutely stunned if it were to happen.

“A few years ago I was a little worried, but the stadium has picked up very well and I think it is the most profitable track in the group.”

The GRA insisted there are no immediate closure plans.

Managing director Clive Feltham said: “We’re not about to cease racing at Oxford Stadium.

“A lot of the planning issues are about explaining what the alternative positions are.”