THE planning application submitted by Brandon Estates to replace our motorsports stadium with a housing estate and ancillary 3G football pitch will be taken to committee at Rugby Town Hall on Wednesday November 9, from 5.30pm.
Despite assurances given to us that the new planning officer would be reviewing all of the information of the past six years with a clean slate, her revised Report still unbelievably recommends approval of the scheme.
This is despite the biggest and most overwhelming consultation response in the history of RBC, and the fact that the application is clearly deficient in numerous ways â€“ most pertinently, it conflicts with both the Local Plan and the Brandon & Bretford Neighbourhood plan (dismissed by the Officer), conflicts with Green Belt Policy, and conflicts with National Planning Policy Framework which it attempts to get around via a misapplication of paragraph 99c.
The final decision rests with the 12 elected councillors who constitute the planning committee, who have the power to overturn the officerâ€™s recommendation and reject the application.
We would like to invite all speedway and stock car fans to join us at the Town Hall on Wednesday evening in a respectful show of support for our sports.
Whilst attendance in the gallery at the planning meeting itself will be extremely limited, we can still send a powerful message outside on the night to those who will be attending, and therefore we would advise arrival from around 4.30pm.
We have already had confirmation that Bees legend Chris Harris and Formula 1 stock car driver Nigel Harrhy will be in attendance.
This could, in fact, be a landmark case for all the wrong reasons, because if RBC do proceed with approving the application, they will be sending out a clear message that there is no point whatsoever in holding any future consultations, either public or statutory, as views expressed will be completely ignored if they happen to differ with the officerâ€™s own narrative.
We should also point out that in our Briefing Paper 9, we made reference to the fact that, 23 weeks after the consultation period into our own application had ended, we had still not been afforded the opportunity to see the public response.
Remarkably, this was forthcoming this week, and confirmed that there had been 943 letters of support and only eight against. 99.2% of the response was in our favour.
Whilst the two applications are separate issues (and therefore reference to our own application should not have been included in the revised officerâ€™s Report, as planning permission is not required to bring back the sports) it does highlight the incredible strength of feeling of the local and wider world. The reactions to these applications are almost diametrically opposed, and yet which one are the officers of RBC putting their weight behind?
It is all the more distasteful that yet again, in the revised Report, the current condition of the stadium is used as a reason why the sports could never return. Let there be no doubt that this is a condition enabled by the shameful tactics of the applicants and their non-existent security and alleged failure to comply with a Community Protection notice â€“ for which they will stand trial, in a case brought about by RBC, less than a week after the planning meeting!
The treatment of speedway and stock car fans, and local residents, over the past six years, has been truly shocking. Wednesday evening is an opportunity for the committee members to do the right thing and block the planning application â€“ and it is also an opportunity for a huge show of support for our sports.