CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Coventry Bees’ historic speedway stadium are calling on the council to ‘do the right thing’ ahead of a crucial planning decision.
The Bring Bees Back to Coventry campaign is battling to save the 90-year-old Brandon Stadium from becoming a housing development.
The ultimate aim of campaigners is to see the speedway club return to its ‘rightful home’ at the Rugby Road stadium.
A planning application by developers Brandon Estates Ltd for 130 new homes – submitted in January last year – is set to go before Rugby Borough Council planning committee within the next few months.
Campaigner spokesman Jeff Davis has urged officers, and councillors on the committee, to reject the application.
He argues public opinion is against the housing proposals, and council chiefs need to take into account protections for sports grounds in the Local Plan and the overwhelming support for the stadium’s survival in the Brandon and Bretford Neighbourhood Plan.
A statement released by the campaign group reads: “The majority of 2019 so far has been spent in a frustrating waiting game, as we have absolutely no control over the timescale of this process – despite our continuing efforts to look to move things forward.
“Our current indications are that the application may well be heard in November.
“Despite the fact that it is nearly three years now since the bikes and cars were evicted from their rightful home, we urge everyone to remain as positive as possible and make sure it’s known that the vast majority of the public are still firmly against the developers’ plans.
“They are attempting to destroy nearly 100 years of sporting heritage, and a venue which was and would still be successful, viable and needed – purely for self-interest and financial gain arising from a completely speculative purchase.
“They must not be allowed to succeed.”
In May, a government-appointed planning inspector ruled Rugby Borough Council’s Local Plan – a now-approved blueprint for future development – must protect such sporting sites.
Inspector Mike Hayden said the Local Plan should state existing sports and recreational buildings should not be built on unless surplus to requirements or they were replaced elsewhere.
A multi-party stadium dispute resulted in the Coventry Bees temporarily riding in Leicester last year in speedway’s third tier.
A council-commissioned independent consultant’s report into the application – which will also inform the committee – is expected to become publicly available soon. The campaign says a draft was submitted to councillors last month.
Campaigners say more than 1,900 letters of objection have been submitted to the council against the housing plans.
A letter signed by 11 MPs including Rugby MP Mark Pawsey also went to parliament.
The club no longer exists. Its promoter Coventry Speedway Ltd dissolved in January.
We have contacted Framptons Planning, acting on behalf of Brandon Estates Ltd, for comment.