Manchester’s Belle Vue greyhound stadium appears set to be demolished following the approval of plans to build new housing on the site.
The stadium is one of the most historic greyhound-racing venues in the UK having first opened in 1926. Plans to convert the site into housing were first unveiled last year and fans have since campaigned to ensure the stadium is not demolished.
The campaign appears to have fallen on deaf ears and the Manchester Evening News reported that councillors have now approved plans to build nearly 250 new homes on the site currently occupied by the venue.
The stadium previously held speedway events and continues to host greyhound-racing as well as stock-car racing.
The MEN notes that councillors did not consider animal welfare when approving the plans, instead basing their decision solely on planning grounds. Officers concluded that “the loss of the facility is outweighed by the provision of a good quality residential development that provides a wide range of new accommodation for the residents of Manchester”.
Councillor Gavin White conceded that he will be “sad to lose a historic venue”, but cited Manchester’s “major housing crisis” as a reason for approving the plans.
Simon Walmsley, chairman of the Friends of Belle Vue Stadium campaign group, had told the meeting: “We have all attended both sports (greyhound and stock-car racing) over varying numbers of decades.
“We are unashamed to say these are both working-class sports. Manchester has a global reputation for being diverse and of rich heritage in culture, music and sport. This is not the first greyhound stadium in the country but the last in Manchester and indeed the north west.
“If this closes you take away two sports from the area for good and this surely goes against the rights of those two groups of working-class supporters. You cannot simply shut down a sporting venue that has existed since 1926 and that is surrounded by leisure and sporting facilities – and replace it with housing. The two do not belong together.”
Earlier this year, the stadium was acquired by Arena Racing Company (ARC) from the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA). ARC also acquired Birmingham’s Perry Barr venue from the GRA.