Jaguar Land Rover plans to turn staff social club sports field into car park

Jaguar Land Rover has called time on the sports and social club for staff which neighbours the car maker’s Solihull site. The car giant says it plans to use the sports field as a car park and ultimately needs the land the club itself occupies in order to expand. The situation was brought to the attention of members of the Jaguar Land Rover Sports & Social Club based in Rowood Drive on the club’s Facebook page. The move will also impact on local residents, as well as sports clubs, community groups and members of the public who use the facilities. Jaguar Land Rover owns the entire site. As well as the extensive sports field the club itself is a large facility which has a number of bars and function rooms, with some available for hire by members of the public. The main function room at the club, which sits right nest to the Lode Lane factory, is a huge hall which regularly holds entertainment events aimed at both club members and the wider Solihull community.

The Land Rover Sports & Social Club in Solihull

In a lengthy post the club initially addressed the matter of the sports field, which has a number of football and rugby pitches, and said: “Following a meeting with JLR’s estates team, we have been notified of their intentions for the future development of the land we lease/occupy which will affect our current position. “JLR haven’t supplied any further detail other than they will be serving notice and submitting planning applications for the sports field to be turned into a car park for JLR parking. “The application will be a two stage process, the first stage will result in the football pitches being lost and local residents access denied. We are expecting this first notice to be served on us in the next two weeks which gives us 12 months.”

The Land Rover Sports & Social Club in Rowood Drive, Solihull. Image: Google

The post goes on to address what is likely to be the closure of the club itself, further down the line. It adds: “The second stage involves the current end of lease in 2022 and JLR’s intention is to reclaim the land in its entirety incorporating the rugby pitches and the social club.” The club also announced its intention to resist the car maker’s plans and said that it is putting fundraising plans in place to do that. It said: “As a social club, we have our legal team investigating this and we will be looking to reject this notice. “This is a costly exercise, so our committee and staff will be fundraising to help with the costs. “We will also set up a Just Giving page as the club is a ‘not for profits/mutual trading club’. “The impact on staff, committee, club users, all sports teams and local residents will be huge and we would welcome support from you all. “We at LRSSC would welcome any help to raise funds and would welcome any help/advice that can be given.” What Jaguar Land Rover said Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed the plan to reclaim the land as part of its growth on the Lode Lane site. A Jaguar Land Rover spokesman said: “In June 2018 we confirmed Solihull would be home to the next generation Range Rover and Land Rover vehicles and will be upgraded to an all-new flexible vehicle architecture. “To deliver this, the plant will undergo significant technology upgrades, including the development of new staff facilities. “In support of this, Jaguar Land Rover has served notice on part of the sports field, and has advised the Land Rover Sports and Social Club that the current lease on the remaining land and property will not be extended when it expires. “Jaguar Land Rover is working closely with the club and relevant parties to ensure a smooth transfer over the next 12 months.”

A football match being played on the sports field at the Land Rover Sports and Social Club
(Image: BPM)

The initial response to the Jaguar Land Rover move has been one of shock. One former employee Mike Gould spoke to CoventryLive about the plan. Mike, who is an acclaimed author and worked in several departments at the Lode Lane factory including public relations, said: « The old Rover Sports and Social Club must hold many fond memories for both current and past Solihull-based staff. “Mine include a concert by 60s chart-toppers The Searchers and – no less entertaining – an address by the then-new MD, Tony Gilroy laying it on the line about the future of the plant and company. »

The Land Rover Sports & Social Club in Solihull
(Image: Paul Thomas)

Mike reminisced about the ‘family feel’ the company had when he first worked there. He said: “When I started my career at Solihull in 1972, it still had a family feel about it despite being part of the British Leyland Motor Corporation. “There was a personnel rather than a human resources department aligned to a welfare organisation which included a company doctor, dentist and ophthalmologist. “It was also possible to get a lunchtime drink at the onsite social club as well as there being easy access to the sporting facilities. “Those days are long gone as Jaguar Land Rover seeks to ‘sweat the asset’ of its venerable Solihull plant. »

The Land Rover Sports & Social Club in Solihull
(Image: Paul Thomas)

Mike also questioned the need for more car parking space and added: “Given the recent layoffs, it’s a bit unclear as to who will benefit from the extra parking space – although the park and ride scheme from Birmingham Airport recently closed requiring employees to find space on site. “So, this move could be part of the Project Charge cost reduction plan. “While building cars after enjoying a lunchtime pint or two is a practice best consigned to history, turning your back on your employees’ recreation is probably bad for business and won’t help the morale of the Solihull workforce – the timing being particularly bad coming in Mental Health Awareness week. “It’s not going to help the company’s relationships with its residential neighbours who must be very worried about how the new car parks are going to be accessed. “Neither is putting acres of well-toned grass under tarmac going to do much for the JLR’s environmental credentials.”
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