The plans for a new speedway and greyhound racing stadium could be entering the home straight, says Clarke Osborne, managing director of site owners and stadium operating company Gaming International.
The site between St Andrew’s Ridge and Tadpole Lane has been under consideration since 2007 when North Swindon councillor and now MP Justin Tomlinson backed a campaign by Swindon Robins speedway fans to ensure the team would have a home after the future of Abbey Stadium came under threat.
After much negotiation, including a change of use of the surrounding land from light industrial to housing, and having to delay the project after the 2008 recession hit, Persimmon Homes are about to start on the first of 500 houses which will fund the stadium.
George Osborne, right, holding the stadium plans with Gaming International development manager George Edwards. Below, the site layout
Subject to detailed planning permission from Swindon Council, construction could start at the end of September with completion in the Autumn of 2015.
To ensure there is no disruption to greyhound and speedway seasons, the new stadium will be built adjacent to the existing facility, next to the access road to the A419.
“Everybody knows that Abbey Stadium, which has been there for over 60 years, is in urgent need of replacement, said Mr Osborne. “What we have come up with is a state of the art facility with added elements for education and entrepreneurs.
“The track will be slightly shorter than at present and the design of the grandstand itself will ensure that the experience will be more akin to going horse racing.
“Speedway and greyhound racing nowadays is very much a leisure activity, rather than for betting. Visitors will be able to enjoy a large glass walled lounge which will look out onto the track lit from above so there are no low level pylons and cables obscuring the view. People will only have to step a few feet onto a large open air terrace to watch all the action.”
The existing market hall, currently in a separate building, will be incorporated in the ground floor of the stadium complex. It will be more compact than now and there will be an emphasis on giving start-up businesses and entrepreneurs a chance to establish themselves.
Mr Osborne added: “Justin has been always been keen that the stadium reaches out to young people of the area and it will provide opportunity to gain motor maintenance skills and the veterinary and kennels area will be used for animal husbandry courses.
“There will also be an entrepreneurs’ centre in which young people can develop ideas with support and put them into practice in the market hall.”
The stadium will offer the most advanced media facilities available whereby cameras are operated remotely and video is streamed to TV companies without having to send an outside broadcast unit. The resulting lower cost will make Swindon an attractive location for international meetings which will boost the economy.
The on-site car parking will be adequate for greyhound racing but the unused park and ride site on Cricklade Road will be utilised for speedway fans.
The stadium building will have low energy requirements, incorporate solar panels and the track sprinklers will use stored rain water.
The directional public address system will be more clear and less intrusive to housing which will be 200 metres away and masked by a tree planting belt.
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “I’m incredibly excited that the plans for the new Abbey Stadium are about to be submitted. We fought long and hard to secure a future for speedway in Swindon. The plans look absolutely fantastic for Robins fans, market traders and the whole community.
“Clarke Osborne and his team at Gaming International have been wonderfully responsive to the ideas put forward. I’m really looking forward to putting the first spade in the ground to get the project underway.”