Royal Showground sale shrouded in mystery

The proposed sale of the Royal Show showground has become clouded in secrecy and rumour this week.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England has refused to comment officially on how the plan to market the site is progressing.

RASE chief executive John Moverley told Farmers Weekly last week (News, 13 July) that the 100ha (240-acre) showground would be valued and potential suitors invited to tender thereafter.

But, although Monday 16 July was put forward as the date of valuation, nothing more has been said officially and requests for information and invitations to comment have been turned down or left unanswered, sparking rumours.

At the centre of those rumours is Advantage West Midlands – the regional development agency and a government-sponsored organisation with an annual budget of more than £300m. It has been suggested as the most likely bidder for the site.

AWM already has rights to a parcel of land within the showground and is believed to be the body prepared to underwrite the cost of the proposed Centre for Excellence, itself a £100m-plan to develop the showground as a specialist centre for agriculture, horticulture and the food chain.

It has a track record of developing other sites to fulfil its remit. But no-one from AWM was available for comment.

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