Jo’s Review of Responses to EcoPark

Findings of Desk Top Review of  Documents  Submitted to SDC  Planning (15/05/2017)

At the time of writing,  approximately 530 supportive statements have been received (many on a pre-printed ‘form’), some coming from as far as Edinburgh, Bradford , London and Norwich.  To date approximately 155 objecting statements have been received.

I have outlined below the main reasons that have been given in support  of the proposal.  More often than not, they are the same reasons that other people are using to oppose the development so hopefully this will give you a clearer insight into the debate…………

“It will be great for the local community”

Eastington is the local community for this development and it is fair to say that not too many think it will be great for us. Although not everyone is against this development, a meeting held in the village  hall last year attracted 115 people to turn out mainly to object. At the last count over 155 people had logged a formal objection with the planning office; Eastington Parish Council has formally objected, submitting a fully evidenced report .

This development also goes against the Eastington Neighbourhood Plan which was signed off last year and the Stroud Local Plan. This is important. These plans represent the strategic planning direction for our local community and our district; both having been developed, agreed and signed off following a formal democratic process and all planning requests should align to them BY LAW.

In addition to Eastington Parish Council, many other parish councils have objected (Cam, Arlingham,  Standish, Moreton Valance, Hardwicke and Caincross). Some have asked for further information (Stroud) or have offered support with certain caveats (Stonehouse). A few have offered full support for the application (Rodborough and South Gloucestershire). Strangely Nailsworth had no comment to make, just stated they expected the current football ground to be used to support the community if FGR was to relocate.

“An Eco Park would be great for Stroud”

It is the site of this development, not the development itself that people are objecting to.

The site is already an ‘Eco Park’ in its truest sense;  100 acres ( 40 Hectares)  of Eastington green fields would be covered by this development. Within these fields there are active aqua and land habitats (river life, wildlife, birds and fauna) including badger sets and bats. Within these fields there are sites of significant archaeological interest; such as a Roman Villa. (However, the proposal makes a great play of the fact the 4.6 Hectares of it will be designated a ‘nature reserve’!)

The site is prominent from many public viewpoints; short and long range.  The area is intrinsic to the Severn Vale and the Cotswold escarpment is very obvious on the skyline. The site is visible from outward views from the Cotswold escarpment, including Doverow Hill, Haresfield Beacon, Selsley Common, Coaley Peak and Cam Long Down and could be visible from the Forest of Dean AONB.

The Planning Environmental statement notes that there would be long term adverse impacts on the visual landscapes mentioned  and cycle route 45.

“We will get the improved roads we need to make the flows of traffic much better round J13”

The Highways Agency has not fully supported the application since they were first asked to comment, stating that permission should be delayed for a specific period of time (three months) whilst the applicant answers their questions

They have repeatedly asked for improved modelling to be conducted and credible simulated figures to be provided; the J13 aspect is still outstanding, and traffic models to date do not cover a wide enough area.

The Highways Agency believes the original proposed predictions of 5% of people going to site by foot/cycle and that each car will include on average three people are too optimistic.

Nailsworth will be saved from the congestion and traffic problems currently experienced because of Forest Green Rovers”

Yes they would and it would all be coming our way; via the backroads past Frocester, up and down the M5 and along the A419. With this traffic comes congestion, road safety concerns and additional noise and air pollution.

FGR has just been promoted to the football league so the traffic numbers are likely to increase; and supportive comments have started to come in since May 14th saying this is why the planning permission should be granted – to shift the problem over here!

Much more relevant  and sustainable for FGR to look for somewhere better served by public transport.

We need more specialist sports facilities”

Whilst we would all think this is a good idea in principle, Sport England rejected the original proposal on the grounds that no strategic need for such sports facilities was demonstrated.   The original plan contained a more varied sports provision, but this was later removed and Sports England now only supports a very much narrower provision of artificial pitches.

“4,000 new jobs will be created”

It is not clear that these additional job spaces are needed given the other plans that are set out for the district and it is not clear if these would be additional or just moved from other areas in the district.  Very few jobs would actually be ‘created’ – only the available space.

Stroud District Council (SDC) says its overall planning blueprint up to 2031  identifies a more than adequate supply of land for employment development throughout the district.  Ecotricity have commissioned their own study  indicating a shortfall which favours their development, and a third study shows only a tiny shortfall.  The argument appears to be over whether land identified for employment use will actually ‘come forward’ during the next 14 years, not it’s actual availablity – which right now seems unproductive.

There are also concerns that Ecotricty themselves, (employing 500 people) would leave the centre of Stroud, which would  damage the economic viability of the town.


Jo-anne Bradford

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