Dreams of bringing speedway to Norfolk Showground lie in tatters

Artist's impression of the proposed Norwich Speedway track at the Norfolk Showground. Artist's impression of the proposed Norwich Speedway track at the Norfolk Showground.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
1:04 PM

Dreams of bringing speedway to the Norwich Showground look to be in tatters.

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At a press conference at the Norfolk Showground the proposals and plans for the News Firs Stadium and the return of speedway to Norwich on the site of the former driving range on the show ground.
Photo by Simon FinlayAt a press conference at the Norfolk Showground the proposals and plans for the News Firs Stadium and the return of speedway to Norwich on the site of the former driving range on the show ground. Photo by Simon Finlay

A consortium first announced its intention to revive the sport in the area for the first time in 50 years in July 2012. The company, New Firs Ltd, hoped to put a planning application in for the track and stadium last autumn.

But their dreams hit delays when New Firs and their planning consultants Lanpro had a disagreement over fees.

Lanpro said the project required “greater resources than initially envisaged” and Steve Ribbons from New Firs said the consortium had moved on and new planning consultants had been hired, meaning the track and stadium could be built by the summer.

It is now understood Lanpro is no longer working on the project, and Mr Ribbons declined to comment when contacted by the Norwich Evening News.

At a press conference at the Norfolk Showground the proposals and plans for the News Firs Stadium and the return of speedway to Norwich were announced by(l to r) former speedway star Ove Fundin, promoter Steve Ribbons, Louise Wilkinson from the show ground and ambassador Roy Blower.
Photo by Simon FinlayAt a press conference at the Norfolk Showground the proposals and plans for the News Firs Stadium and the return of speedway to Norwich were announced by(l to r) former speedway star Ove Fundin, promoter Steve Ribbons, Louise Wilkinson from the show ground and ambassador Roy Blower. Photo by Simon Finlay

Mystery now surrounds whether the project has collapsed but it seems clear that it will not be at the Norfolk Showground.

Greg Smith, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, which owns the showground, said: “Our trustees took the decision to not lease the land to the developers (New Firs) due to uncertainty about the amount of time being taken to bring the project to fruition.

“From our trustees’ point of view there were concerns that the project had become unviable and because time was drifting on and we had other priorities to concentrate on.

“We are continuing to look at a range of other options for the use of the site.”

Mr Ribbons, a businessman who has previously been involved in speedway projects at Rye House in Hertfordshire and Wimbledon, had been working alongside business partner Tim Dockerty on the project.

They had hired Leicester Lions Speedway boss David Hemsley, speedway track designer Clive Williams and appointed a new director, Adrian Brill, to submit the plans.

Mr Williams, an architect, designed the track at Leicester Speedway and brought the sport back to the city in 2011 with Mr Hemsley.

The plans were for a 360-metre track with a 480-seater temporary stadium on an 11-hectare development on the site of the former golf driving range.

It would revive the sport in the city for the first time since the Firs stadium in Hellesdon closed in 1964.

The team would enter the national league, the third division of speedway, and Mr Ribbons said he hoped to establish the team over a couple of years and be promoted to higher leagues.

When the plans were revealed last July, opinion was split over whether a track should be built on the showground’s eastern edge.

Opponents believe speedway would be too noisy for a track to be built close to homes in Costessey and Easton and new housing developments at Queen’s Hills and Lodge Farm.

But supporters argue the noise is far less than opponents make out and want to see the sport brought back to the city.

Tim East, county councillor for Costessey, said: “I’m not delighted that the project is not going forward because I am a supporter of speedway coming back to the city, but the showground was an inappropriate location. That is what has caused this scheme to fall by the wayside.

“It’s sad, but it’s not a viable location, in the middle of potentially three and a half thousand houses. Any objector developing those house would have objected to it.”

- Do you think there is still potential for speedway to return to Norwich? Leave your comments below.

Related links

VIDEO: Plans for speedway’s return to Norwich revealed

Dreams of bringing speedway back to Norwich delayed but not dead

Norwich speedway bid at Norfolk Showground “back on track”

Video: New Norwich speedway track would be “a force for good”

Photo Gallery: Derek James looks back on the history of speedway in Norwich

10 comments

  • Sadly the sport just isn't viable anymore. This season has only just finished and it now looks as though Sky Sports have pulled the plug. Eastbourne, the aforementioned Isle of Wight, Swindon and Glasgow are all possible casualties before the season starts in March. Eastbourne are an Elite League club but their attendances average at around 770, Would still love to see the land used for some sort of sporting purposes rather than staying empty or used for yet more housing. I also failed to see why speedway on a Saturday night would cause more disruption on those roads than the proposed Next Superstore open 7 days a week. Tim East didn't even bother to attend the Parish Council meeting when Next was discussed.

    Report this comment

    Ash Lewis

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

  • Ash - if Sky pull out then it will leave a big hole in club finances. I have been to the 'new' stadium at Leicester a few times. Though it is far from ideal ,having little cover for spectators and in the middle of nowhere, they always seem to get a reasonable attendance. I would think the only prospect for a stadium in Norwich would be on a piece of land next to an industrial estate.

    Report this comment

    Steely Dan

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

  • Restore speedway to The Firs: I'm sure Tecso's will gladly lend out their car park for one day every so often.

    Report this comment

    NigelS

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

  • ".......said the consortium had moved on and new planning consultants had been hired, meaning the track and stadium could be built by the summer." So where, like the headline says, does it "lies in tatters" ?. More sensationalism by the EDP.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

  • With the increasing urbanization of the city there is more chance of an incinerator being build there than a noisy speedway track

    Report this comment

    Yellow Fox

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

  • We should never had speedway in the first place. It is ridiculous that a City the size of Norwich does not have a team. Even the Isle of Wight have a team, and so do much lesser towns. It is no where as noisy as it used to be

    Report this comment

    Derek McDonald

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

  • The decision is nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to anything connected to motorcycling. A grey little man hears the words speedway and due to his own prejudice immediately jumps up and down about noise and aggravation brought about by those mean, dastardly biker types, even though most of us are nothing more than middle-aged enthusiasts with kids and a mortgage. Strange how we tolerate a football stadium in the middle of the city which sounds more like a Nuremburg rally on match days and all the problems that entails. Could we not do a swop?

    Report this comment

    frank young

    Thursday, October 31, 2013

  • I cant see why there is no speedway in the city. Planners seem to pass plans for more houses and retail store which increase traffic to Norwich and surrounding areas. This increases noise and disturbance but seems to have an issue with a motor sport. I have a motocross track less than a mile form where I live and can hardly hear it so why not have speedway at the show ground. It would promote Norwich even more.

    Report this comment

    budgie boy

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

  • "Speedway track Designer"? It's an oval, surely not that difficult?

    Report this comment

    Chilly62

    Thursday, October 31, 2013

  • Re previous message should read "We should never had lost the Speedway"

    Report this comment

    Derek McDonald

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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