Approval set for Bristol Rovers' new stadium
BRISTOL Rovers' new £40 million stadium is set to gain approval in seven days' time.
Planning officers have recommended that South Gloucestershire councillors give the scheme the go-ahead when they meet next Thursday to decide on its future.
In a 61-page report councillors have been recommended to allow the stadium to be built, once agreement has been reached on traffic issues. News of the officers' recommendation has been welcomed by Rovers chairman Nick Higgs.
He told the Post: "Obviously this is a very important step forward, that the planning officers are recommending approval, but we realise that ultimately the decision lies with the councillors that meet next week.
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"The recommendation shows that we have done everything to comply with the planning regulations."
The club wants to build the new 21,700-seat ground next to Hewlett Packard's Bristol base on the northern fringe of the city. The site was bought by the University of the West of England, which has entered into a unique partnership with the club to build the stadium.
Approval for the new ground is subject to payment of at least £140,000 towards parking schemes to minimise the impact of stadium crowds on nearby roads, and upgrading traffic lights at nearby Abbey Wood roundabout.
Under the officers' recommendation, once the details have been agreed between the club, UWE and South Gloucestershire, a senior council officer would have the power to grant final approval without the scheme going back to a committee.
The traffic and parking deal will see the club and UWE contribute to parking schemes at Cheswick Village – the vast new development taking shape in Stoke Park – and UWE allowing car parks on its nearby campus to be used for stadium events.
But the plans are also dependent on planning permission being given for a Sainsbury's supermarket at the Memorial Stadium in Horfield. The new supermarket is needed to help fund the cost of building the new ground.
If all goes to plan, Rovers hope to see the new stadium built in time for the 2014/15 season.
Plans submitted to the council include erection of the 21,700 seater new sports stadium as well as hospitality areas, a club shop, bars, offices, gym, banqueting facilities, Media Study Centre/UWE Teaching Space and construction of a car park with space for 1,000 vehicles.
The proposal says the new stadium could be used for up to 18 Bristol rugby matches per season, as well as other events, including concerts.
The report said that the council had received 1,126 letters of support for the proposal and 154 letters of objection.
Objectors included local residents, Stoke Gifford Parish Council and Hewlett Packard – but the American-based computer giant later withdrew its objection.
The development control (West) committee will meet at Bradley Stoke Community School next Thursday at 2.30pm to consider the plans.