Campaigners are set to lose their fight to save a disused speedway track from redevelopment.
Plan to build industrial units on the site of the Stoke Speedway Stadium, in Chesterton, have been recommended for approval by planners at Newcastle Borough Council.
Members of the planning committee will make a decision at tonight’s (Tuesday, May 26) meeting.
The Loomer Road track had been used for speedway and stock car racing for more than 40 years, and was the home of the now-defunct Stoke Potters club. But it has been out of use since last autumn.
Peveril Securities Ltd is requesting outline planning permission for an industrial development on the 6.5 hectare site, which it says would provide 27,725 square metres of employment space and create 400 jobs.
Motorsport enthusiasts campaigned against the proposals, and more than 700 people signed a petition to save the track. The campaigners claimed that redeveloping the site would breach national planning policies which protect leisure facilities, unless an equivalent site was provided in the area.
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But planning officers at the borough council do not believe that scheme would be contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework, partly due to the declining popularity of this form of motorsport.
The planning report states: “It is clear from the submitted assessment that the loss of speedway facilities and uses are part of a national trend due to their decline in popularity and the financial implications that this has on their operations, which makes them unviable to be retained for such uses.
“In particular, this site would require significant investment to improve its facilities, which are of a poor quality primarily due to their age and a lack of meaningful investment in recent years. There is limited demand for such investment, which makes the future use of the site for motorsport unviable.
“Furthermore, it has to be accepted that, due to the decline of the sport and other factors, a suitable site elsewhere in the borough is unlikely to be viable also.”
Oval Racing Council International, the governing body for sports such as stock car racing, expressed disappointment at the proposals when it was consulted on the scheme.
Secretary Lesley Wootten wrote: “The ORCi are a governing body for short circuit motor racing in the UK, therefore, our concern is the loss of another motor racing stadium and facilities.
“To that end, we are disappointed and would therefore encourage the local authority to assist in re-homing the facility within the area.”
Staxtrax Oval Motorsport Ltd, which operated the track until November, did not object to the proposal, but also suggested the venue could be replaced.
Campaigners had tried to get the track listed as an asset of community value. But the council rejected the application as it ‘would not further benefit the social well-being or social interests of the community based on the current state of the site’.
Planning officers also say the Chesterton area is currently ‘well served’ by open space and sports facilities.
Most of the residents who commented on the application were positive, welcoming the proposal to bring the site back into use. But some raised concerns about traffic and parking issues in Loomer Road.
Vehicular acccess to the site would be via Pit head Close, which serves the wider Lymedale Business Park. All other matters, such as appearance, landscaping, layout and scale, have been reserved for a future application.
The planning report states: “The redevelopment of the site for employment provision is considered acceptable on the basis that it would promote sustainable economic growth, that it has been demonstrated that the loss of the former stadium as a motor sport facility would not be contrary to paragraph 97 of the NPPF and that the retention of the site for community and recreational uses is not justified.”