Peterborough Panthers: Speedway fan club launches bid to make stadium a protected community asset

The motorcycle racing team have been left without a stadium while the East of England Showground undergoes redevelopment
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Peterborough Panthers Speedway Supporters Club is launching a new initiative to try to save its team’s stadium from demolition.

The fan club, backed by Orton Waterville Parish Council, has said it will mount a bid to have the East of England Showground stadium designated an Asset of Community Value (ACV), offering it extra protection from redevelopment.

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The club agreed with the parish council at a meeting this week that it’ll fill out the necessary Peterborough City Council (PCC) forms to submit an application to this end as it continues its campaign to save the track.

Peterborough Panthers supporters attend an Orton Waterville parish council meetingPeterborough Panthers supporters attend an Orton Waterville parish council meeting
Peterborough Panthers supporters attend an Orton Waterville parish council meeting
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But members acknowledged that demolition works at the stadium have already begun – with a safety fence and shale of the track surface removed – although they said that these works are “cosmetic” and that it could hypothetically return to use in under a month.

There will be no motorbike racing at the stadium next year, though, as the deadline for entry into the speedway league has passed, and its long-term future remains in jeopardy.

This is because the Showground, including the stadium on its grounds, is at an early phase of complete redevelopment.

Stadium at risk of redevelopment

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Planning applications have been submitted to build 1,500 new homes on the site as well as a hotel, school and ‘leisure village’.

Supporters club members say they want the speedway track to be part of this offering, but developers maintain that this is simply unviable.

AEPG, agents of the Showground’s owners – the East of England Agricultural Society (EEAS) – say that speedway would have to cease at the site regardless of any planning applications for new developments on the land.

It was already causing a significant financial loss, AEPG said, and would only continue to do so in future.

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Despite this, Peterborough Panthers fans hope that community value status will help support their campaign.

What is an Asset of Community Value?

ACV status, which lasts for five years, can be considered when determining planning applications, including as a reason for refusing demolition, and means its owners must inform the council if it wishes to sell it.

If the community group which bids for ACV status wants to buy it, this can trigger a six-month pause in the sale to allow them to raise funds to buy it. An ACV can also be compulsorily purchased by the local council.

But ACV status doesn’t mean an asset is definitely protected from redevelopment even if it’s granted – which it may or may not be.

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Orton Waterville Parish Council parish councillors raised concerns at their meeting with the Panthers fan club that a PCC staff member had written on social media that it won’t go through.

Cllr Julie Stevenson (Independent, Orton Waterville) said that “whether or not it goes through is not the point”.

“We’re going to show good faith and apply," she added.

Cllr Stevenson continued that PCC’s head of planning recommended this course of action to the parish council – so it was unclear why this view had been shared online.

Panthers to be discussed by Peterborough City Council

The councillor has also submitted a motion to PCC’s next full council meeting calling on its leader, Cllr Mohammed Farooq (Peterborough First, Hargate and Hempsted), to meet with Peterborough Panthers’ owners to see “if there is any way the council can help to keep the sport of speedway alive in Peterborough”.

This meeting will be held on 6th December.

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The Panthers have raced at the East of England Showground stadium for more than five decades, since their formation in 1970.

An earlier version of this article stated that roofing had been removed from the grandstand. This has been corrected.