Brandon. A state – Coventry Stadium Update

Brandon Estates, owners of the Coventry Stadium site, unveiled their latest plans for the housing development they are hoping to build on Thursday 19 October in a display at the Mercure Brandon Hall Hotel.

The original proposal, first mooted a couple of years ago, was for 250 houses – this figure has now reduced to 137 dwellings but of course this could just be the first stage in a much bigger overall plan. The Brandon Estates presentation consisted of a number of display boards spelling out their proposals, the surveys they have carried out so far and what they intend to do to overcome issues such as a small number of bats roosting in the grandstand roof – reason enough I would suggest to keep the stadium intact but apparently there are procedures to relocate such creatures.

Brandon Estates (BE) say that speedway and stock car racing at Coventry is no longer viable. Given the state of the place at the moment, they are probably correct. A formal notice was issued by Rugby Borough Council (RBC) giving Brandon Estates until October 9 to meet several key requirements regarding security and rubbish dumping following incursion by travellers. BE reacted to this by dumping earth outside the main entrances and securing the site with a padlock (singular!) and metal plates screwed to gates.

RBC were not satisfied and have given Brandon Estates until 30 October to comply with the order. Not surprisingly BE stated their intention to appeal the notice at the magistrates’ court.

The Save Coventry Speedway group also had a display at the hotel in a separate room, with a number of tables showing the history of the stadium, lots of old programmes, photographs and speedway items. Nigel Harrhy brought his dad’s old speedway bike to add to the display while Paul Hines (259) had his stock car parked outside the main doors. Dave Carter from the BMB was also present to answer questions and there was a steady flow of visitors to both “sides” presentations.

The Save Coventry Speedway display

What was apparent to me from conversations I had with some of those present was that speedway and stock car supporters need to show a united front, something that was perhaps missing when this whole sorry mess first arose. It is also abundantly clear that local residents, by an overwhelming majority, do not want a housing estate on their doorstep and would prefer the stadium to stay.

Nigel, Paul and Dave are to be congratulated on giving up their time to support this event, as are the Coventry Bees fans who were on hand to discuss issues with fellow supporters and local residents. Although I did not see it I am told there was a piece on local television that evening about the campaign.

Paul Hines’ car on display outside the hotel

I know from reading Stoxnet that some fans think we need to draw a line under Coventry Stadium and move on but despite the recent damage the venue is still there – yes it needs work and the longer it is left to rot the more work it will need which is probably the outcome Brandon Estates are hoping for. Make the old place a community project, get volunteers in to clear it up if necessary. Tarmac the car park and use it for driver training, go-karting or even drifting if you must. How about tennis courts, or dig up the centre green, turf it and let Coventry City play there – just not on the first Saturday of the month?

Yes I know this is all a pipe-dream but after attending almost every F1 meeting at Brandon since 1969 it is hard to let go and I know I am not the only one who feels this way.

Words and photos: Mick Jenkins

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