Against their own planning officials, Stroud District councillors voted to reject the proposed Eco Park stadium last night. Forest Green Rovers are disappointed and might not pursue the project further.
It should have been a formality, as we wrote last week. After the planning officer approved Forest Green Rovers' proposed stadium the Stroud District Council was expected to vote in favour. And yet they decided to reject the planning application by 3 votes, taking a special brake before crucial vote.
It seems decisive opposition for the stadium scheme came earlier this week, already after green light from planning. The Eastington Parish Council launched their opposition on the basis of several arguments, not entirely addressed but also not the strongest ones.
- At odds with the priorities outlined in the Stroud Local Plan (2015) and Eastington Neighbourhood Development Plan (2016) to the detriment of a plan lead system;
- At almost 20m, the highest part of the site will detract from the setting of several historic hamlets in the parish;
- Noise levels of 65-75 for those closest to the development are not acceptable.
- The loss of existing landscaping and ecological value is not sufficiently avoided or mitigated;
- The proposed £7 car parking charge will see cars parking on verges and estate roads to avoid the charge;
Present during last night's vote, FGRFC chairman Dale Vince was more than disappointed, despite his own statements downplaying the decision's impact. Vince told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I am a little bit disappointed about what happened. It is a poor show. Four years of work have gone into this, and the council has spent a lot of time and money doing this job properly.
“It was properly assessed, recommended for approval. They are on weak ground and maybe we will appeal but that is another year of my life. The fans will be disappointed and devastated. If you go around the district of Stroud there will be a lot of people disappointed.”