PLANS have been submitted to the city council to secure the long-term future of Coventry Sphinx Sports and Social Club and the football club.
The venue’s bosses have teamed up with developers Wellington Arch to put together the application after what has been one of the most challenging years in the club’s history.
Proposals include the regeneration of a disused area of private scrubland adjacent to the club’s facilities to create a new neighbourhood, delivering new homes and affordable retirement accommodation based on social rentals. The properties will be offered exclusively to older people of modest means.
The plans feature five acres of accessible green public open space on land that has been closed off to the public for generations.
It will include wildlife corridors, a locally equipped children’s play area, skate park, and multi-use games area – all fully accessible to the wider community.
The site for the new neighbourhood is a disused former private golf club which ceased operating more than 20 years ago and has since become overgrown with brambles and scrub while remaining fenced-off from the public.
The regeneration of the site would open it up to the surrounding community for the first time, creating a network of footpaths and cycleways to improve local links, while the wildlife corridor would promote biodiversity and ecology.
Up to 700 new trees and hedgerow species will be planted on the site and existing significant trees on the site – including a veteran ash and lime protected by a Tree Preservation Order – will be retained,
If approved, the planning application will see the Sphinx Club gifted the freehold of their Sphinx Drive home, which is currently leased.
The development will also generate significant investment into the club’s facilities, securing the club’s future following the extreme challenges faced by grassroots sports clubs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dannie Cahill, Joe Fletcher and Neil Buswell, Trustees of the Sphinx Club, said in a statement: “We are incredibly excited at the potential that this development has to secure our future at our historic home.
“The past year has been incredibly challenging for grassroots community clubs like ours, with Covid-19 having a huge impact on club finances.
“The proposal to develop this disused area of land adjacent to our facilities will enable us to bounce back stronger than ever before, building on the work we do within the city community, including more than 300 young people from the surrounding area.”
Prior to submitting the planning application, online consultation was carried out with the local community in the autumn.
The developers said the majority of respondents supported the plans but concerns were raised by immediate neighbours relating to the potential traffic generated by the development.
The applicants claim detailed transport assessments carried out with Coventry City Council’s Highways Department showed there was more than adequate capacity in the local network to support the development.
However, the applicants have taken on board the feedback, and amended the plans in response to the consultation, with a proportion of the new homes being replaced with a development of affordable retirement accommodation.
This, they say, will provide much needed housing for some of the city’s most vulnerable older residents, while reducing traffic movements between the development and the surrounding road network.
Gary Leigh, Director of landowner Wellington Arch, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Sphinx Club to bring forward these exciting plans.
“If approved, our proposals will open this site up to the surrounding communities for the first time in generations, delivering much needed high quality new homes and extensive open space together with facilities which will be fully accessible to local residents.
“We are pleased there was a positive response to the consultation on our plans, however we were very keen to acknowledge the concerns raised by some neighbours relating to traffic.
“To that end, while our Transport Assessments demonstrated that there was more than adequate capacity in the local road network, we have nonetheless amended the plans to reduce the potential traffic generated by the development.”
And the landowners say the plans represent a windfall opportunity to contribute to Coventry City Council’s housing shortfall.
There have been a number of people objecting to the development and a petition has been signed by more than 600 people.
Campaigners have formed two Facebook groups informing residents of the proposals – Save Our Green Space Stoke, Coventry, which has 187 members, and Save Our Air, Coventry formed by Siddeley Avenue resident Steve Smith.
They say their major concerns are traffic resulting from an additional 500 cars, particularly as residents say Siddeley Avenue is already heavily congested at peak times, and a further increase in already high inner city air pollution levels. The road has also seen a number of accidents including a recent case where a child was knocked over receiving minor injuries.
The loss of a green area and ‘beautiful wildlife haven’ is the other main objection.
For more on the campaign against the development, read our more in-depth story here.