OUR first meeting of 2019 saw members of the Campaign Group back at Rugby Council offices on January 9.
Attending the meeting were the Leader of Rugby Council Michael Stokes; the new Head of Growth and Investment Stephanie Chettle-Gibrat; the Development and Enforcement Manager Nick Freer; and the Principal Planning Officer dealing with the Brandon Estates application, Erica Buchanan.
One of the main reasons for the meeting was to take the officers through our latest document to be submitted.
Given the volume of material which has been generated over the last two years, and especially since the planning application, we have pulled much of it together – and also included new information – into a single document summarising the errors and untruths contained within the planning material submitted by Framptons. Unsurprisingly, this is once again a hefty document!
Those who were present at our Public Meeting last November will recall Cllr Stokes’ announcement that an independent consultant was to be appointed, at considerable expense to the Council, in order to go through the material from all sides and provide an informed response from within the sporting sector.
We warmly welcomed that news as we are 100 per cent confident that the information we have submitted, which is accompanied by clear and indisputable evidence rather than vague jargon, will stand up to examination.
Supporters are reminded that Framptons/Brandon Estates are attempting to make the case that Brandon Stadium closed down due to the non-viability of running speedway and stock cars (which had successfully run together for over 60 years); and that sufficient alternative venues exist elsewhere in the Midlands to ensure there is no ongoing need for either a return to Brandon or for an alternative site to be provided in the Coventry/Rugby area.
We believe their application and follow-up material are totally non-compliant with National Planning Policy Framework regarding open space, sport and recreation facilities, and we welcome the fact that they will be subject to outside scrutiny.
The independent consultant has now been appointed, and we already have a meeting scheduled with him for later this month.
As to the question of when the planning application will go to committee, we can say that it is not currently imminent for two reasons.
Firstly, it clearly cannot happen until the independent consultant has completed his report, and although this extends the time period we see the appointment as a positive step and proof of how seriously the Council take the matter.
Secondly, the final Local Plan report from the Government Inspector had not been received as of last Wednesday, and another pledge from Cllr Stokes at the Public Meeting was that the application would not be heard until this has been completed.
So although we do appreciate the frustration that this process has so far taken nearly a year from the submission of the application, we urge supporters to be patient – and we can assure them that we have options in mind to react to several potential scenarios in future.
Once again our thanks are due to the senior members of the Council for making the time to meet with us, and fully engaging with what we had to say.
As ever, we will endeavour to update supporters whenever possible as matters develop over the coming weeks and months.