Belle Vue Greyhound Stadium’s future hangs in the balance after the local planning officer recommended a plan to demolish it and replace it with houses.
The announcement comes ahead of a Manchester Town Hall planning meeting on Thursday, December 19, which will ultimately decide on the future of the track that has been in operation since 1926.
The future of Belle Vue has been under pressure after Countryside Properties submitted plans to build 250 houses on the property last December. The plans are awaiting official approval as long as developers agree to providing as affordable 35 of the proposed homes, 14 percent.
The track was the country’s first purpose-built greyhound racing venue, and the Save Belle Vue Stadium Action Group’s online petition received around 13,000 signatures. The Planning and Highways Committee stated in its report before the meeting that a variety of questions were raised during the consultation process.
One of the concerns underlined was the following: “Belle Vue Greyhound Stadium brings nothing positive to the area. Gambling facilities do not help the well-being of people living in an already deprived area and may only drive them into debt”.
The report added: “Additional matters have been raised through the consultation process that require further consideration. It has been confirmed that a covenant was placed upon the stadium by the Critchley family when it was first built, dictating that the land may only be used for entertainment or leisure use.
“This has been investigated and due to the age of this covenant, its current status has been difficult to determine. Notwithstanding this, the existence of a covenant on land is a private matter sitting outside the planning process and is therefore, not a material consideration that can be given any weight in the consideration of this planning application.
“A detailed assessment has been made in respect of the harmful aspects of the material considerations in this case, mainly the loss of the existing local nonstatutory heritage site, the loss of employment opportunities at the existing site and the potential highway impacts from additional congestion created by the proposed residential development.
“However, on balance, this level of harm is considered to be outweighed by the benefits the proposed development would bring, in relation to the provision of good quality affordable residential accommodation, an improvement to the overall appearance of the site, the betterment to the ecological value of the site, and the reduction in the noise currently generated by the existing uses to the benefit of existing residents living around the site.
“Therefore, although it is acknowledged that the proposed development would result in some harm, this harm does not outweigh the overall benefits of the proposals and the determination of the planning application in accordance with the up-to-date Development Plan.”
The news comes after both Perry Barr and Belle Vue greyhound stadia were bought by the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) by Arena Racing Company (ARC).
Belle Vue, based in Manchester, hosts 103 fixtures per year. Therefore, it is estimated that the deal with ARC will host approximately 50% of the 1619 annual BAGS installations at ARC-owned stadiums–which also includes Newcastle and Sunderland.