Rugby councillors told planning appeal for Coventry Stadium is set to start next month
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The action group seeking to save Coventry Speedway will go into the planning appeal over its derelict home on an equal footing with the developer that wishes to demolish it.
Coventry Stadium, the home of the Coventry Bees speedway team and stock car racing, is the subject of plans from site owners Brandon Estates to replace it with 124 homes, a 3G football pitch and pavilion.
Planning permission was unanimously refused by Rugby Borough Council’s planning committee in November 2022 but Brandon Estates launched an appeal that will be heard through an inquiry led by national planning inspector Robert Wordsworth. It is scheduled to start on Tuesday, September 19.
Inquiries are the most formal procedure by which planning appeals are decided with legal representatives cross-examining parties and expert witnesses to investigate evidence.
The borough council this week updated councillors on its planning committee by confirming the start date, that it was expected to last up to eight days and that Save Coventry Speedway and Stox – the campaign group behind efforts to save the historic venue – had been granted rule six status. It means they will be considered as a main party throughout proceedings.
One of the key arguments for allowing housing on the site is that speedway is not viable but the campaign group has consistently refuted this, naming Warren Hunter as a potential buyer and backer to restore the Brandon circuit to its former glory.
That argument will be key as the single reason for Rugby Borough Council refusing permission for the housing was based on national planning policy which states sporting provision should not be repurposed “unless the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the benefits of which clearly outweigh the loss of the current or former use”.
Addressing councillors on Wednesday – while Coventry fans were watching a Bees select team represent the club at Birmingham – development and enforcement manager Richard Holt said: “This will now be heard by the Planning Inspectorate on Tuesday, September 19 for up to eight days and it will commence at 10 o’clock.
“Both the council and independent expert witnesses will give evidence over the course of the inquiry and they will also be cross examined by legal representatives from both sides.
“In addition, Save Coventry Speedway (and Stox) action group has been granted rule six status by the Planning Inspectorate, which means they will play an active part throughout proceedings. It is understood they have legal representation themselves so they will input into the inquiry in the same way the council and appellant will.
“Councillors and members of the public are welcome to attend each day and speak at the inspector’s discretion, however, the inspector will be setting out a timetable for the event on September 12, a week before it commences.”