Protections for historic Coventry Bees stadium at Brandon ordered by inspector - The Coventry Observer

Protections for historic Coventry Bees stadium at Brandon ordered by inspector

Coventry Editorial 17th May, 2018 Updated: 17th May, 2018   0

PROTECTIONS which could potentially save Coventry Bees’ historic stadium in Brandon from housing development have been ordered by a government-appointed independent planning inspector.

In encouraging words for the Save Our Bees campaign, inspector Mike Hayden has dedicated a section on the Coventry Stadium site in his initial findings on his crucial examination of Rugby Borough Council’s ‘Local Plan’.

The Local Plan will decide where land is allocated over the next two decades for housing, employment, leisure and other uses.

A multi-party dispute at the stadium in Brandon has resulted in Coventry Bees riding in Leicester in the short-term, but with hopes of returning to the Coventry and Warwickshire area.

Campaigners – supported by the Observer’s Save Our Bees campaign and Rugby MP Mark Pawsey – have taken their call to Parliament for a long-term return as soon as possible to the Coventry Stadium or an another suitable site in the area.

But the site’s owner, Brandon Estates, has submitted a planning application to the borough council for 130 homes.

Mr Hayden, in a letter to the council, outlines more “main modifications” he deems necessary to the draft Local Plan, following public hearings earlier this year.

As well as extra protection for Coventry Stadium for sports use, he recommends removing housing proposals at the Lodge Farm, Brinklow and Coton House, to be replaced with additional housing at Long Lawford and Binley Woods.

The modifications will now be included in a public consultation.

Of the Coventry Stadium at Brandon, he says more safeguards are needed in the Local Plan for sports buildings, similar to local protections for open space and community facilities.

Without those added protections, the Local Plan is ‘Unsound’, he warns, which would leave it open to legal challenge and being over-ruled.

Any developer for the site would have to prove there is a need for housing on the site, the plan is viable, and that the homes could not be better provided elsewhere.

Mr Hayden states: “I heard evidence at the hearings about the potential redevelopment and loss of the Brandon or Coventry Stadium.

“Notwithstanding the current condition of the site, it is evident that the stadium was until recently in active use for speedway and stock car racing.

“In the light of this, the absence of a policy to safeguard existing sports and recreational buildings from being built on unless surplus to requirements or replaced elsewhere, in line with paragraph 74 of the NPPF, (National Planning Policy Framework) renders the Plan unsound.

“Such safeguards are in place for open space and community facilities in the borough, but not sports facilities.

Accordingly, main modifications should be included to apply the tests in Policies HS3 and HS4 (which relate to open spaces and community facilities) and their supporting text to sports facilities.

“This would also ensure that any planning application for the redevelopment of the Brandon Stadium could be assessed against evidence for its need, viability and alternative provision.”

Councillor Heather Timms, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for growth and investment, said: “Residents, parish councils, developers and other partners have all had the opportunity to make representations to the inspector for independent consideration against the requirements of the town and country planning regulations.

“These initial findings from the planning inspector show that he has considered carefully all of the evidence before him, as was our wish when councillors agreed to submit the plan for examination.

“They are another significant step towards delivering planned, sustainable growth with the supporting roads and other infrastructure that we need.”

The council adds that, once the wording of the proposed modifications has been agreed with the inspector, they will be the subject of a six-week public consultation.

Responses will be considered by Mr Hayden when he prepares his final report.

Further information on the local plan, along with a copy of the inspector’s letter to the council, can be found at

UPDATE: Jeff Davies tweeted in response to our story: “It was the outcome we’d hoped for and worked hard to achieve. The #SaveCoventrySpeedway & Stox campaign group will issue a press release and website statement later today.”

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