Portsmouth greyhound track set to close for redevelopment

PORTSMOUTH'S Greyhound Stadium is set to close after 79 years.

In less than two weeks the dog racing tracks in Target Road, Tipner, will shut forever to pave the way for a huge new redevelopment.

The clock has been ticking since the stadium was sold to the Tipner Regeneration Company and South East England Development Agency as part of the long-awaited transformation of the gateway to Portsmouth.

It was agreed the site could be leased for a 1,000-a-year peppercorn rent for two years.

But that deal runs out at the end of the month.

Now 47 jobs will go and dozens of charities who rely on income from fundraising events held at the stadium will lose out, according to leaseholder Eric Graham.

Mr Graham, who has worked there for 18 years, wanted the lease extended but the landowners have refused.

'We were hoping that they would extend the lease as nothing appears to be happening here,' he told The News.

'We want to keep the stadium for as long as possible. It's part of Portsmouth's heritage.'

Portsmouth Association for the Blind is among the charities which will be affected by the closure.

Fundraising manager Paul Oakley-Cleife said: 'I am alarmed that a valuable source of income could disappear for good.

'The stadium staff support a number of charities over the year and we have built up a warm fondness for our dogs night.

'Not only will this closure effect us and our visually impaired members but the 47 staff and it's local business support network.'

Once the stadium has shut, workers will investigate the site before a planning application is submitted to Portsmouth Council.

The Tipner redevelopment will include a new junction off the M275 with up to 1,600 new homes built and 1,500 jobs created.

Tipner Regeneration Company director Steve New says the site was bought for redevelopment and it was always the intention to shut it.

Mr New said: 'There was never going to be a renewal of the lease.

'We negotiated a long-term run down period which gave adequate time for the dog owners, trainers and staff to relocate to other stadiums.'

Portsmouth's greyhound stadium opened in 1931 and is among the oldest in the UK.

Mike Hancock, Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South, said: 'It was inevitably going to happen with the regeneration of Tipner. I'm sure local residents will welcome it and see it as a positive stop in terms of some development starting to happen at the site.'