The New Proposal
Following discussions with Stroud District Planners, Ecotricity have been advised that their original proposal would not fly and so have amended their planning application.
It retains the original planning reference S.16/0043/OUT
The planning application no longer includes any employment/business and the proposed Nature Conservation Area to the west of the M5 has been removed.
The ‘Sports Complex’ has been reduced in scale and repositioned to the north of the A419 as shown
Consequently, this outline application is now ‘just’ for a replacement 5,000 capacity stadium for Forest Green Rovers Football Club (FGRFC) Including a Club Shop, food and beverage facilities, a health and fitness suite all purely for FGRFC as well as training /conference rooms and office space for FGRFC staff.
The proposal also includes two full size grass training pictures (unlit), a goal practice area, parking for around 1,740 cars, and parking for coaches and bicycles. A parkland setting is envisaged with the planting of some additional 500 trees and 1.8km of new hedgerows.
In addition full planning permission is being sought for traffic light controlled access off the A419, including a pedestrian crossing, and a foot/cycleway along the south side of the A419 with some reinstatement of the hedges and laybys.
It should be noted that some of this work will be provided under the Gloucestershire Growth Deal, wherein the Government has already agreed to invest £4.4m by 2021 via GFirst LEP for junction improvements and carriageway widening within the A419. This was meant to provide necessary improvements to the road before any effects of the stadium were considered.
It should also be noted that all pretence of a ‘public amenity’ for sporting activity has been dropped, and the whole project is entirely for the benefit of Forest Green Rovers.
The upside of this is that activity should be limited to Saturday afternoons and the occasional Tuesday evening. The Downside is that it will sit empty, as a white elephant, for the rest of the time – until FGR decide to make some cash by renting it out for goodness-only-knows-what purposes when they run out of money.
Sport England, whilst not formally objecting, said: “I note that all the community facilities have now been omitted and the car parking has more than doubled in size, which I am assuming is the result of costs and highways requirements. I do not think it is right to seek a community use agreement for the facilities which are remaining, and I am deeply surprised that neither of the two training pitches are 3G Artificial Grass Pitches AGPs). “
From our point of view the new proposal is an improvement (for the moment!) on the old. The business park was really the greater threat in terms of traffic and general nuisance. However, it would be naive to believe that this threat has gone away!
The main problem is that when the revision of the Local Plan coming along (effective 2023), these sites – both North and South of the A419 – may well be included as possible ‘strategic’ development sites. If this occurs, it will make it much harder to argue against any development on them. It is hard to understand how a football stadium of such limited appeal might in any way be considered a ‘strategic’ development, but we seem to have to demonstrate this. In any case, the revised Local Plan cannot come into force before 2023, so any planning permission that allows work to commence before this is still contravening the Local Plan as it stands.
Everyone opposed to this new application should make a FRESH objection on the Stroud planning website (same ref no S.16/0043/OUT – click here). It is still the same application, so previous objections (including all of those resulting from the ecn survey a little while ago) should be taken into account, but to be sure that our voice remains loud and clear pleasd write again and make sure that your comments relate specifically to the stadium in its new setting.
I have updated the ‘How do I object…‘ page to make it a little more specific, but most of those objections as related to the stadium are still as valid as they ever were – up until 2021 anyway!