Work starts soon on the all new Abbey Stadium stadium at St Andrew’s Ridge in North Swindon, following Swindon Council’s approval of plans submitted by site owners Gaming International.
The existing Abbey Stadium, which has been the home of Swindon Robins speedway and also greyhound racing for over 50 years, will continue to operate whilst construction takes place. This should be completed by March 2017 and a move to the new facility is planned for the following month.
Extensive plans have been made to provide for ‘business as usual’ during the construction so that speedway meetings, greyhound racing, and the Blunsdon indoor/outdoor market is maintained without interruption.
The design of the new stadium will be state-of-the-art from a spectator and a TV audience point of view. The developers have worked closely with Sky to ensure remotely operated cameras can be quickly plugged into networks so that broadcasting race meetings can be made cost effective.
Clarke Osborne, CEO at Gaming International said: “We are delighted to have permission granted and are keen to get underway with the construction of this new facility for Swindon. We have plans to keep the disruption to our customers at a minimum during the construction and I ask that everyone allows a little more time to arrive and park when attending a function.
“I would like to thank Councillor Toby Elliott and the excellent team at Swindon Borough Council who have remained supportive throughout this necessarily complex planning process and I have particular thanks for Justin Tomlinson MP, who’s encouragement and desire to make things happen has been a key element in this long journey to develop a new leisure facility here.”
The land adjacent to the old stadium was allocated for employment use in the late 1980s but was never developed. In 2005, following a public inquiry, the planning inspector’s report into the Swindon Unitary Development Plan recommended that the site should remain for employment use, though the policy provides for the possibility of other uses as part of a mixed use development.
When the financial viability of the stadium was called into doubt in 2006, then Abbey Meads councillor Justin Tomlinson backed a campaign by Swindon Robins fans to save the historic site
Justin, now MP for North Swindon, commented: “This has indeed been a long road, but we are finally at the point of starting work on a new stadium and I want to thank everyone concerned in getting here.
“This is a prime example of the council working closely with operators and developers to make things happen and bring brand new, modern leisure facilities to Swindon. I made a commitment as a councillor, back in 2006 that the council would support this venture and they have delivered.
“It is very exciting and I look forward to the opening next year.”
Read how SwindonLink covered the submission of plans by Gaming International at the beginning of 2016.
Pictured top, Clarke Osborne of Gaming International, right, with Justin Tomlinson MP, centre, and Alun Rossiter, manager of Swindon Robins. Image: Calyx. Below, the location of the old and new Abbey Stadiums. Bottom, crowds in front of the grandstand at the old Abbey Stadium