Coventry Stadium planning inquiry: Deadline passes with no legal challenge over housing refusal

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Site owners and potential developers Brandon Estates has not triggered its last available option, which would have involved heading to the High Court

The decision to prevent Coventry Stadium being knocked down for housing has been rubber stamped after campaigners confirmed no legal challenge had come forward.

Save Coventry Speedway and Stox (SCS) announced today (Wednesday, March 13) that site owners and potential developers Brandon Estates had not triggered its last available option, which would have involved heading to the High Court.

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Planning permission for 124 homes, a 3G football pitch and pavilion at the derelict home of the Coventry Bees speedway team and stock car racing was refused by Rugby Borough Council in November 2022 with the appeal heard through a full inquiry – the most formal procedure by which appeals are decided with legal representatives cross-examining parties and expert witnesses.

The decision to prevent Coventry Stadium being knocked down for housing has been rubber stamped after campaigners confirmed no legal challenge had come forward.The decision to prevent Coventry Stadium being knocked down for housing has been rubber stamped after campaigners confirmed no legal challenge had come forward.
The decision to prevent Coventry Stadium being knocked down for housing has been rubber stamped after campaigners confirmed no legal challenge had come forward.

The council’s refusal was based on paragraph 103 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the overarching set of rules that is the backbone of all local planning policies.

It states that “existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the benefits of which clearly outweigh the loss of the current or former use”.

Planning inspector Helen Hockenhull was “not persuaded that there is a clear case that the site is surplus to requirements or is no longer needed” and decided that “the value of a 3G pitch cannot compare to a facility of which there are relatively few in the country, which can hold events generating such wide interest with the social and wellbeing benefits for those that attend”.

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The only way to overturn her call would have been to satisfy the High Court that Ms Hockenhull had made a legal error but with the six-week period to come forward now passed, SCS can begin to think about the next steps.

“We are naturally delighted that this marks the end of this particular part of the process, and also that our approach to each stage has been vindicated,” the group’s statement read.

“We must once again place on record our thanks to everyone from the sporting and local community who stepped up in such spectacular numbers last summer to assist us with the cost of legal representation.

“Anyone who watched the planning inquiry, and will therefore now understand the way it was conducted, will have seen how being represented in this manner was crucial to our chances of success.

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“Likewise to our witnesses and those who spoke in support of the stadium at the inquiry, your honesty and passion shone through under difficult scrutiny, and it is sincerely appreciated.

“There is now much for us to consider, doubtless with further meetings to be arranged over the coming weeks."

Now it is all about what Brandon Estates choose to do with the land. The decision does not force the reinstatement of its former use but as things stand, there seems to be little prospect of getting any kind of return from the land without it.

“At this stage it is too early to give any clear indication over what is to follow, or any timescales," the SCS statement continued.

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"At every stage of the planning application we have worked through potential scenarios and considered our strategy under every likely circumstance.

“We thank everyone for their support – it has been hugely appreciated, and never more so than during the time of the appeal.

“We can assure you that with this huge hurdle cleared, we retain an unstinting commitment to get speedway and stock car racing back to their rightful place at Brandon Stadium, and finally bring this saga to an end for the benefit of both the sports and the local community.”

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