Arena Essex Site Sold

We are pleased to report the end of the planning application designed to remove Speedway from the Arena Essex site.

And we are pleased to claim a part in its demise through our campaign to return Speedway to the Borough.

After 6 years of largely non-productive possession, in which time the Raceway Tavern was demolished without planning permission, the owner of the Arena Essex site, London Strategic Land Partners Limited, has finally given up on its plans to develop the land for housing and has withdrawn its planning application, a decision no doubt influenced by our 2019 objection to its failure to comply with local and national policies to preserve sporting facilities at risk from development.

As confirmed on the LSL Partners Limited website here the new owner of the Arena Essex site is a hyperscaler* which we can reveal as Global Infrastructure UK Limited which acquired the site for £47 million (excluding VAT) in a deal completed on 31 July 2023.

The sum paid represents a considerable windfall for the previous owner in an example of failure being amply, and some might argue unfairly, rewarded.

According to Companies House, Global Infrastructure UK Limited has two active Directors,
including one who holds a senior position with Google. Both Directors are located overseas
although the company has a registered office address in London.

The hybrid planning application previously lodged with Thurrock Council in 2018 (ref 18/01671/FUL) which sought permission for the construction of up to 2,500 units of housing has now been withdrawn.

During the past six years, the Arena Essex site has been largely unused, with the exception of a short-term arrangement during the 2020-21 COVID pandemic whereby international truckers were able to take COVID related tests.

London Strategic Land Partners Limited’s decision not to allow speedway to operate at Arena Essex after the 2018 season brought Thurrock’s highest quality and best attended spectator sport for 35 years to an end.

Thurrock Hammers Limited, which was incorporated in 2019 to lead the campaign to return Speedway to the borough, submitted an objection to the 2018 planning application in November 2019.

Since its inception, the company has spent considerable time and energy securing local political and democratic support which culminated in the successful adoption of a Full Council resolution in January 2023 that requires that the “restoration of speedway be included in the Local Plan process.”

The Thurrock Council Local Plan is still being written and has several steps to make before it can be formally proposed, let alone adopted (the latest suggested adoption date is mid 2026).

The recent financial and political turmoil at Thurrock Council has been well reported. The Planning Department is the subject of an upcoming review into its recent management and operation and is currently under relatively new, albeit interim, executive leadership. We are currently liaising with Officers in connection with the creation of the Local Plan.

Thurrock Hammers Limited Director Mark Sexton commented:

“The change of ownership of Arena Essex signifies a new start and we have already contacted a representative of the new owner of the site with the aim of preserving Speedway by using current planning regulations and policies.

Supporters will remember that we secured the backing of Thurrock Council at a meeting of its Full Cabinet in January 2023 which should be key in the Local Plan process and any application for planning permission on the Arena Essex site.

Our land use plans are well developed and while our focus is to return Thurrock’s most popular spectator sport to the borough, we are also looking to add much needed community value as part of our plans to weave Speedway into the fabric of the community.

British Speedway and its thousands of fans are crying out for a modern, up to date facility
close to London and covering the South East. Our circumstances are different to most other
speedway clubs around the country but the withdrawal of the 2018 planning application has provided the Hammers campaign with a massive shot in the arm.

After four and half years of campaigning against well-resourced and motivated opponents, we remain as determined as ever to bring the sport back to Essex and appreciate all the support we receive, locally, nationally and from further afield.”

*A hyperscaler is a large-scale data centre that offers massive computing resources.