OXFORD Stadium could soon be given a new protected status which will make it harder for developers to knock it down to build homes.
Officers at Oxford City Council are looking into the possibility of making parts of the stadium a conservation area, giving the structure the same level of protection as some of the most historic parts of the city.
A public consultation has been launched and information gained will feed into the city council’s decision on whether to formally approve the status. It is hoped that making the stadium part of a conservation area will scupper plans to build 220 homes on the site.
City council leader Bob Price said: “Having had the focus on it that we have had for the planning application, it has been evident that the stadium has a very important heritage and conservation aspect to it.
“Having realised that, we thought we should use what powers we have to protect it. This will be another clear obstruction to it being a housing development.”
City council leader Bob Price
Mr Price said council officers have been asked to explore whether parts of the building can be given listed status.
If approved, the conservation area would cover the tracks, the speedway pits, the greyhound paddock, car parks and parts of Sandy Lane.
Conservation areas are defined by central government as “areas of special architectural or historical interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”.
Oxford currently has 16 such areas including the Central conservation area which includes the Radcliffe Camera, the Sheldonian Theatre and Christ Church.
The stadium was opened in 1939 by Lord Denham and was used for greyhound racing until 2012 when its owners, the Greyhound Racing Association, closed it claiming it was no longer viable.
It has also been home to speedway, with local team the Oxford Cheetahs winning three British League titles.
Galliard Homes has applied for permission to demolish the stadium and build homes there but the plans were rejected by the city council and are now the subject of an appeal – set to be heard this summer.
Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, who has been campaigning for the stadium to be kept, said: “Conservation area status will also give the council stronger planning control of what can happen on the site.
“It sends another very strong signal that our community is determined to save the stadium and make the most of its enormous potential for the future.”
Galliard Homes declined to comment.
The Oxford Mail reported on Monday that Steventon farmer Robert Tyrrell hopes to buy the stadium and is being helped by Nick Budimir, a friend of football manager Harry Redknapp.
- The public can comment on the council plans by visiting consultation.oxford.gov.uk or by contacting senior conservation officer in the planning department Robert Lloyd-Sweet before April 1.