International support for campaign to save Coventry Bees stadium as Rugby council closes in on decision
The once-proud venue has fallen into disrepair since racing ended and now council officers are recommending the go-ahead for the revised application by owners Brandon Estates to clear the site for 124 homes, an artificial sports pitch and pavilion, plus open spaces including a play area.
The decision is set to be taken by councillors next Wednesday, November 9, at 5.30pm, at Rugby Town Hall.
Though the report comes down in favour, it acknowledges the scheme is a departure from the council’s Local Plan and as Rugby exceeds its duty to have a five-year supply of housing on the books, it also recognises it doesn’t need the extra homes.
When councillors gather next week they can expect a packed public gallery as campaign group Save Coventry Speedway remains a fierce critic of the plans and the council’s response.
Councillors will also have to consider a wide range of voices raised in support of the stadium being restored to its use as a sports venue, having hosted speedway, stock cars and greyhound racing in the past.
The latest report lists a wide range of objectors to the original scheme from 2018 for 137 homes and the updated version of it.
There can be few applications that go before planning committee listing objections from around the world.
Beyond the comments from the area, the report notes that in response to the 2018 plan, ‘1,400 further objections have been received from wider demographics. These objections are from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, USA, New Zealand, mostly either speedway or stock car fans’.
And to the revised scheme, ‘Approximately 1,000 further objections from wider demographics. England, Netherlands, Holland and France, mostly either speedway or stock car fans’.
It also lists a number of objections from MPs to the original scheme. Mark Pawsey’s view is described thus: ‘Objects as site is in the green belt and a much-loved community asset. Rich sporting heritage should be protected and not an identified site in the Local Plan’.
It is also noted that Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones said: ‘Objects as site in the green belt and a viable site with a good sporting heritage and should be protected’.
Two Coventry Labour MPs also objected and there was a further cross-party objection.
Save Coventry Speedway produced a response to the council report prepared for the meeting postponed in September after the Queen’s death and which was then withdrawn from the next planning committee, so the application could be readvertised as a departure from the Local Plan.
The council report has been rewritten and the campaigners are preparing a response to it – but claim it does not recognise comments made by itself and Sport England: “The report remains totally deficient.
"We trust the elected councillors who constitute the planning committee and make the final decision, will study our critique and assess whether the officer has properly considered the points raised.”
The latest from the campaign group can be found by clicking here. The application is number R18/0186 and the agenda for the planning committee is available here on the borough council’s website.