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Gloucestershire Business News

Dale Vince pleased Forest Green Rovers Stadium plan is "making progress" after learning appeal date

A public enquiry into Forest Green Rovers' Eco Park stadium development will be held on February 18, club chairman and Ecotricity owner Dale Vince has revealed.

Plans for the stadium close to junction 13 of the M5 Motorway were refused by Stroud District Council planners in July, leaving Mr Vince furious.

The plans were resubmitted in the following month with a minor change that saw one of the training pitches that would go alongside the stadium designated for community use.

Stroud District Council have yet to set a date for when that application will be heard and as nearly four months have passed, Mr Vince has decided to take proactive action.

Last night, he announced on his facebook page that, following the submission of an appeal, the club have received a date for when it will be heard.

He said: "Last week we submitted our appeal for Eco Park and five minutes ago we we got the date for the Public Enquiry - 18th February 2020. I'm really pleased with that.

"Just to explain - Stroud District Council turned our application down in July this year and took about two weeks to give us reasons for refusal - usually it takes 24 hours.

"The reasons don't make a lot of sense, and will be hard to defend - but we agreed to re submit the application and try again.

"The council asked us not to appeal at the same time, it's fairly normal to do both at once but the council had bandwidth issues.

"Since then the date of the second decision making has kept slipping, from October originally.

"The latest view from the council is that there will be a meeting in late December to have a second go at this - but with Christmas so close and an election taking place that month, I'm not convinced that date will stick. In which case we're into January.

"The outlook in July was that it would take 12 months or more for the appeal or three months or so for the resubmission, making the decision to go for the resubmission seem obvious.

"In August the process changed, and the appeal timetable moved to a super rapid three to four months - if I'd have known that then, I think we would probably have appealed, for the certainty and short timeframe."

Mr Vince added that while the delay is a "little frustrating" given the plan has been place for nearly five years, he said that there is progress being made.

He revealed that the parcel of land is now being considered in the Local Plan review as land suitable for sport and employment use - precisely the intended planned use for the development.

He added: "It's happening with a combo of an appeal that will be heard in February next year, a second decision that may take place in December this year.

"And the land now likely to be in the revised Local Plan anyway making the current refusal a little ridiculous - we are making progress.

"I'm most excited by this appeal date, it's solid and a chance to move on to the next stage."

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