Energy tycoon confident new football stadium will be built
By Andrew Merrell | 17th June 2019
The man behind the rejected bid to build a 5,000-seater football stadium in Gloucestershire said he will appeal the decision - to give planners a 'second chance' to make the right decision.
Speaking immediately after Forest Green Rover's plans to build the new all-wooden Eco Park ground off Junction 13 of the M5 were rejected last week, Dale Vince described himself as "frustrated".
Officers had recommended Stroud District Council's planning committee approve the proposal, that would see the club move from its Nailsworth home to the new site near Eastington, but councillors decided otherwise.
Mr Vince, the owner of Forest Green Rovers, and founder of major Stroud employer Ecotricity, called the decision 'bizarre' and suggested he may consider the land for up to 1,000 houses instead.
But he has now revealed plans to fight the decision, "confident" the re-submitted tweaked but "essentially the same" plans will win through and the ground - designed by internationally recognised architect Dame Zaha Hadid.
"I'm confident of our prospects on appeal - not least because we have the recommendation of the officers of the council and all the experts that have been engaged on issues like noise and traffic (for example).
"But in addition to that there's the farce at the end of the meeting, which I think will be a big factor, it's going to make defending this decision on appeal very difficult, for the council.
"This is where, having decided to refuse the application, the Conservative councillors responsible were asked for their reasons and just couldn't give any and so they asked for a five-minute recess to allow them to come up with something.
"After some head scratching and flicking through policy papers they put forward some tentative ideas, the first few of which were pushed back on by officers (as having little chance of success) on the basis that they flew against either officers opinion or that of experts.
"This was clearly an improper decision making process and shows that whatever reasons the council may now have to give to defend the decision on appeal - have been made up after the event. We've got the video footage of this to share with the appeal inspector," said Mr Vince, writing on his Facebook page.
Stephen Davies, the leader of the Conservative Party on Stroud District, refuted any idea the vote was anything improper about the way voting was conducted by members of his party.
"This is the development control committee - it should not be political," said Mr Davies.
A Stroud District Council spokesman said: "Officers prepared a report, which members of the Development Control Committee considered and came to a conclusion on."
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