West Row: Mildenhall Stadium row couple claim they had no option but to take their legal battle to the Supreme Court
13:00 01 March 2014
The couple who won their six-year legal battle with Mildenhall Stadium have insisted they never wanted the dispute to reach the highest court in the land – but felt they had no other option.
The Supreme Court this week ruled in favour of Katherine Lawrence and Raymond Shields in their battle with the owners of Mildenhall Stadium about noise disruption.
The couple moved to a house 560metres from the stadium in Cooks Drove, West Row in 2006, and began legal action two years later.
The stadium owners revealed earlier this week that the stadium could close given the restrictions that could be enforced and the potential multi-million pound legal bill, but Ms Lawrence said she made every effort to settle the issue out of court.
She added: “We looked to amicably resolve the situation without going to court. We’ve had no option.” She said that it seemed to her that the operators did not want to resolve the situation amicably. She also claimed the stadium owners ignored their planning permission.
“From April to November there were two activities of racing every weekend, which meant no respite at all,” Mrs Lawrence added.
Five of the most prominent law lords in the country ruled unanimously in favour of Ms Lawrence and Mr Shields. The court’s summary said the activities at the track “constitute a nuisance” and the operators “fail to establish a prescriptive right to carry out these activities”.
The High Court originally ruled in favour of Ms Lawrence and Mr Shields, but this ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal. But the Supreme Court reinstated the original verdict, which entitles Ms Lawrence and Mr Shields to £20,000 damages and the ability to impose restrictions on the stadium should their house - destroyed by fire in 2010 - ever be rebuilt.
The stadium is home to the Mildenhall Fen Tigers speedway team, but also hosts banger, stock car and greyhound racing. Ms Lawrence said activities could last until 1am, with clearing up until 3am.
She said: “It was never our intention to have the stadium shut, but we were never the only complainers.”
Dave Coventry, one of the stadium’s owners, said the couple’s demands at mediation were “unachievable”, adding: “We just couldn’t match what they wanted.
“In terms of the stadium, we’ve never breached our planning permission – we’ve always done exactly as we were supposed to.”