The resurgence of Oxford Stadium and the Cheetahs/Chargers, the return of speedway to Workington, healthy attendances across the country, the rejection of the redevelopment plans for Brandon Stadium and the possible return of Speedway to Rye House are a boost to our campaign to return Speedway to Thurrock.
The members of the Hammers management team are, of course, aware of the challenges currently being faced by clubs like Wolves and Peterborough which are, in our view, mainly caused by the longstanding issue of clubs being tenants and often operating under restrictive licensing arrangements.
To that end and to avoid the risk of a landowner shutting the gate our plan is deliberately focused on ensuring that Speedway has a significant ‘stake in the ground’ at any new facility.
We are appreciative of all the support we get from you, our supporters, as was demonstrated following the Thurrock Council decision to formally adopt a resolution to ‘use the Local Plan process to support the retention of speedway in Thurrock…’
This decision provided us with a firm democratic basis on which to proceed as it reflected the feelings of the Community and makes us confident that speedway WILL be included as an integral part of any forthcoming Local Plan.
The January decision quickly prompted a series of meetings and conversations with local Planning Officers which were generally positive. Following the appointment of Commissioners to oversee the Council’s affairs, there are several new holders of Executive positions at Thurrock Council and we have noticed a new more pragmatic approach with respect to matters relating to Planning and Place.
The recent Council elections required a six-week period of ‘purdah through March and April but Brian Connolly and Mark Sexton attended Thurrock Council’s Developers Forum in May to take part in the Local Plan process.
Unfortunately, this is quite a lengthy, and drawn-out process and one that is unlikely to be completed until mid-2024 at the earliest.
This does NOT necessarily mean that we could not make progress before that date. Armed with the positive decision from January and other existing policies, we are confident that we can unlock the development potential and bring much needed community benefits to Thurrock as part of the planning process.
The current owner of the Arena Essex site continues to be hostile to Speedway. Its residential planning application (18/01671/FUL) has still not been presented to the Planning Committee for a decision and we have refocused our plans in case the current plans are abandoned.
Despite the challenges presented by what appears to be a stalled planning application, we believe that we will return Thurrock’s most popular team sport to the borough and look forward to updating you in the future.