Last chance to fight for Coventry Stadium as Rugby council extends consultation on site that is in green belt

The forlorn entrance to Coventry Stadium. Photo: Google Street View.The forlorn entrance to Coventry Stadium. Photo: Google Street View.
The forlorn entrance to Coventry Stadium. Photo: Google Street View.
It’s a tragedy a modern-day Shakespeare could write about and the final scene will soon play out for the once-proud stadium in Rugby borough that was the home of Coventry Bees speedway.

The legendary nights of top-flight sport will be formally consigned to history if Brandon Estates gets the go-ahead from Rugby Borough Council to clear the site, build 124 houses and all-weather sports facilities – but not a new stadium.

The site has had a troubled history since speedway and stock car racing stopped a few years ago – while supporters have fought hard to bring racing back with an alternative to the homes plan, the stadium has been trashed and was twice hit by fire earlier this year.

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Save Coventry Speedway campaigners had geared up for the crunch planning meeting last month but that was delayed by the death of the Queen and the expected replacement date for next week has also been dropped, with the planning notices having been republished and consultation extended to October 20.

The planning notice now records the application ‘is a departure from the development plan’ – better known as the Local Plan – a late addition that has added to the opponents’ frustration.

In a statement issued last Tuesday, September 27, the group said: “It is somewhat surprising that this was the case, given that the application has clearly conflicted with the Local Plan from the outset, a point we have repeatedly made throughout all of our representations over the past six years.“And the Local Plan itself was only adopted after the Government Inspector in 2018 had declared the initial plan ‘unsound’ without modifications to safeguard existing sports and recreational buildings, making the specific requirement that additional protection should be given to Brandon Stadium.“We await further information regarding a confirmed new date for the planning committee meeting, and can confirm we will be submitting an extensive response to the planning officer’s report.”

They believe officers were due to recommend approval of the application but all eyes will be on whether the local plan conflict prompts any kind of rethink.

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The application reference number to find the plan on the council’s website – R18/0186 – gives access to a full range of documents, including the council’s own analysis of how the scheme fits with the Local Plan, labelled on the planning site as LP_response.

This document from the council’s development strategy team highlights that the council will have to consider several conflicts with its Local Plan.

These include key comments that highlight it is a green belt site, the mix of housing for sale does not meet the plan standards with no one-bed homes and that the borough already has enough homes due to come on stream: ‘The last authority monitoring report, published in October 2021, shows that the authority has more than a six-year supply of dwellings, so although any permission would contribute to supply the authority does not ‘need’ this contribution to meet its requirement to have a five-year supply’.

With so many areas of the borough under siege from developers, campaigners elsewhere will be keen to see how willing councillors are to bend their own rules – and speedway suppporters will no doubt be out in force when the planning meeting eventually takes place.