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New Swindon speedway stadium moves ahead
Planning inspectors have cleared the new for Swindon's new speedway stadium plans to progress.
They said they will not call in plans for the new Abbey Stadium - meaning the project can now move ahead.
It is hoped that the new venue, which is included in plans for 450 houses, as well as office space, will be ready for the 2010 season.
Alun Rossiter, the boss of Swindon Robins, said: "This is absolutely fantastic news. It's the best thing that could have happened for Swindon Speedway.
"We were a little bit worried about what would happen and when, but this is a brilliant step forward for us.
"It's very exciting to have such a unique new speedway stadium in Swindon and I think it's something that will be great for the town as well.
"There have been a lot of negative comments about the new stadium, so it's great to have some good news instead.
"The owners have been very helpful to us throughout and it's clear that we, the owners and the fans are all striving towards the same thing - a fantastic new stadium.
"Some of the fans have been critical about the car parking issue but with the park and ride in place it will be less of a walk than from the railway station to the County Ground. Some people just don't like change."
Darcia Gingell, the chairwoman of the Pit Crew supporters' group, said: "I'm delighted to hear that this major hurdle has been cleared.
"It's really exciting that we will have a brand new stadium with improved facilities to give Swindon a speedway venue that it can really be proud of.
"I don't think Swindon fans are too concerned how long it takes for the new stadium to be up and running as long as we can carry on using the old one and that there isn't a break in the speedway."
In 2006, the developers behind the new stadium, Gaming International, threatened the future of the Robins at the Abbey Stadium when their plans failed to include a speedway track.
But, after an Advertiser-backed campaign the company made a U-turn and included both a speedway and a greyhound track in their plans.
Councillors gave the green light to the latest project in February.
But there were still concerns that the Government would put a spanner in the works after it demanded to look more closely at the plans.
David Potter, the director of planning and transport strategy at Swindon Council, said that the Government's present policy was not to interfere unless necessary.
He said: "The Secretary Of State decided that there was not sufficient conflict.
"Now we need to conclude the legal agreements.
"It's not easy to say how long that could last but we want to make sure that the plans will deliver.
"We are determined to deliver a stadium, not just the promise of a stadium."
Coun Justin Tomlinson (Con, Abbey Meads), the cabinet member for leisure, culture and recreation, said: "This news is absolutely fantastic.
"It's great for the speedway fans as this is the final hurdle to secure the long and short-term future of speedway in Swindon."