MEMBERS of Rugby Council’s planning committee have unanimously voted to REFUSE the application submitted by developers to replace the iconic Brandon Stadium with a housing estate.
Despite a recommendation for approval from the planning officer, committee members carefully assessed the evidence during Wednesday’s meeting, and then threw out the Brandon Estates scheme.
The prime reason for refusal was the failure of the plan to comply with Section 99c of National Planning Policy Framework, and the associated local guidelines, in that the ancillary 3G football pitch which was proposed in no way compensated for the loss of the world-famous motorsports venue.
This was a point repeatedly made by the Save Coventry Speedway & Stox Campaign Group ever since the developers switched their focus away from a failed attempt to prove that the venue as a motorsports stadium was unviable and that it had no ongoing need, having closed it themselves at the end of the 2016 season and allowed it to fall into a state of disrepair.
Following the initial presentation from the planning officer, confirming the recommendation to approve, committee members heard statements from Dave Carter on behalf of the Campaign Group (objecting), Gareth Hooper on behalf of planning agents DPP (in favour), and an impassioned address from Ward Councillor Tony Gillias which drew spontaneous applause from the packed gallery.
Committee members were then invited to ask questions and debate the proposals – where it quickly became clear there was no appetite to back the recommendation to approve.
A motion to refuse was proposed and seconded, with no hint of any motion to approve, and the vote to overturn the recommendation was carried unanimously.
Campaign Group spokesman Jeff Davies said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the verdict of the Planning Committee, and we’re very grateful to the elected councillors of Rugby Borough for making this unanimous decision.
“Six years of hard work has come to fruition tonight, and we couldn’t be more pleased.
“We can only take each step at a time, and so far the developers have failed to get onto the Local Plan, they’ve failed with their original speculative application, and they’ve now failed with a second speculative application, this time at Committee.
“Whatever comes next, we will fight that too, and if it’s an appeal on behalf of the developers we will fight it with the same enthusiasm and vigour as we’ve done with this one.
“In the light of this decision, though, we would urge the current owners to come forward and do the right thing, and talk to Warren Hunter about selling the stadium to him, for the sports to be able to come back to Brandon.
“We want to see the stadium reinstated to its former glory. We have always argued that a sports pitch in no way compensates for the loss of the motorsports stadium, and we’re very grateful too for the support of Sport England, who also reiterated that point recently.”
The next key date is November 14, which is when the stadium owners are due to stand trial in a case brought about by Rugby Borough Council for their alleged failure to comply with a Community Protection Notice.
The Campaign Group would like to send a massive thanks to everyone who turned out at the Town Hall and showed their support such an appropriate and positive way – including Bees legend Chris Harris and F1 stock car drivers Nigel and Jake Harrhy, as well as BBC Midlands Today and BBC CWR for their excellent coverage throughout the day.