DOG racing fans were last night celebrating after winning a battle to save Oxford Stadium.
Galliard Homes, which owns the stadium, announced yesterday it had withdrawn its appeal against Oxford City Council.
The news comes after Galliard advertised the Sandy Lane stadium was available for lease. Now, campaigners like Mick Wheble, hope a stadium operator like William Hill will be able to run racing at the stadium once more and turn its fortunes around.
Mr Wheble, 65, the stadium’s former promotions manager, said: “We fought long and hard with intense negotiations for this, and I’m overwhelmed by this news.
“I told them the absolutely minimum we would want to see is a long-term lease.
“Now we will see if the interest is there, and I think there will be.”
Galliard did not why it had withdrawn its appeal, but Mr Wheble said he believed it was pressure from his campaign and the city council.
He added: “The business opportunity here is enormous.”
Galliard Homes and Risk Capital, which co-own the stadium, advertised the lease at £250,000 a year.
The firms’ agent CBRE, said it had already received a “flurry” of enquiries by the end of the day on Thursday, but declined to say who from.
CBRE agent Josh Garside told the Oxford Mail he expected bids to come from firms hoping to run it as a greyhound stadium.
However, Andy Cooper, who runs Oxford Karting at the stadium said he was “very sceptical” about the move.
He said: “We’re no further now than we were the day before.
“If they said they had no intention of building houses here I would celebrate, but all they’ve done is acknowledge the plan they submitted has no chance.
“Who’s going to invest huge sums of money into a stadium without the certainty it won’t be sold for houses?”
The greyhound and speedway stadium was closed in December 2012 when owners, the GRA, said that it was no longer financially viable to hold racing there.
Galliard Homes’ plan to demolish the stadium and build 220 homes on the site was rejected by city councillors in January last year.
The developer’s appeal to the planning inspectorate was due to be heard in September.
Former greyhound owner Nick Budimir, who previously put in a bid on the stadium for an undisclosed amount, said he would not be looking into leasing the stadium but still hoped to buy it at some point.
Galliard and Risk Capital refused to comment when contacted by the Oxford Mail.
Timeline of events
- 1938: Stadium built
- 1999: Owners Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) add more seats
- 2005: GRA taken over by body including Galliard Homes
- 2012: Site shut down by GRA
- 2013: Galliard applies for planning permission to
demolish stadium and build
- Campaign to save it launched 2014
- January: Oxford City Council rejects application and Galliard appeals
- April: City council grants the stadium heritage status
- May: Galliard drops its appeal and offers stadium for lease