Nearly 800 petition to save Solihull social club from Jaguar Land Rover plan - The Solihull Observer

Nearly 800 petition to save Solihull social club from Jaguar Land Rover plan

Solihull Editorial 24th May, 2019 Updated: 24th May, 2019   0

MORE than 800 people have signed a petition to save a historic Solihull social club and its playing fields which are threatened by Jaguar Land Rover ‘car park plans’.

JLR eventually wants to reclaim the Land Rover Sports and Social Club’s entire site but will first submit an application to build a car park on the playing fields, members revealed in a Facebook post this month.

As we reported, passionate staff and patrons – many who work at the car manufacturer’s Lode Lane factory – have come together to oppose the plans.

Now a online petition has been signed by 805 people in just over 48 hours with many commenting on the plans which could ‘rip apart the community’.

In a move which has prompted sadness and anger, the club is expected to be given 12 months before its lease covering much of the playing fields is revoked.

JLR owns the well-used site on Billsmore Green which has been a community hub for Elmdon residents for more than 45 years.

The club says it has more than 3,500 members – about 3,000 of which are workers or former workers at the factory.

In what campaigners are calling a David vs Goliath battle, the club has launched a fundraising drive for costly legal fees and support for the club in the meantime.

It says it is difficult to imagine the club could continue without the playing fields as the clubhouse relies on the money from sports teams who play on the field, who are now also under threat.

The loss of the clubhouse could also jeopardise the future of Solihull Music School and many other local clubs.

The petition states: “JLR has served notice for a change of use for our sports field and club, which is currently classed as open green space and is used for 22 football teams and a rugby team.

“JLR want to change the sports field into a car park for employees. Ultimately, in 2022, the social club will be closed to expand this car park.

“The Land Rover Sports and Social Club was created by the Land Rover employees to be used as a social meeting place and a place to enjoy shows with the family and engage in sports.

“Hundreds of people pass through the club every single week.

“This is the only open green space on the Damson Wood estate and is used every day by the residents.

“Our community needs to retain its green spaces and allow our thriving teams and clubs to continue with full use all of the facilities.”

A JLR spokesman today issued a slightly different statement than one released previously.

It states: “In June 2018 we confirmed Jaguar Land Rover would be investing in its Solihull plant, securing jobs and supporting the local economy to create the home of the next generation Range Rover.

“To enable this investment in all-new flexible vehicle architecture, the plant will undergo significant technology upgrades, including the development of new staff facilities.

“Having explored all other options, Jaguar Land Rover has served notice on a part of the on-site sports field.

“Additionally, JLR has advised the Land Rover Sports and Social Club that it is unlikely that the current lease on the remaining land and property will be extended when it expires.

“Alongside this, Jaguar Land Rover is having ongoing discussions with Sports England to consider a strategy of creating new and enhancing existing sports fields in the Solihull Borough.

“Jaguar Land Rover is working closely with the club and relevant parties to ensure a smooth transition over the next 12 months.”

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