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Gloucestershire Business News

Update: latest on FGR's Eco Park

Forest Green Rovers has revealed more details to its project to build its timber stadium at the Eastington junction of the M5.

The Eco Park stadium, at a projected cost of £100m, is being designed by British designers Zaha Hadid Architects and, after some initial setbacks, was finally green-lit by Stroud District Council in 2019.

Punchline reported on groundwork beginning at the site in February and a target for completion is as yet unknown, although sources suggest the club's move from its existing stadium in Nailsworth will not be before 2026.

As well as being a 5,000-seater stadium with potential to expand, Eco Park will feature 38,000 sq m of office space, 18,000 sq m for industrial zone, a 100-room hotel, a 70-bed care home, parking for 1,700 cars, 500 new trees planted and just over a mile of new hedgerows. A 'lost' section of the Stroudwater canal, linking Saul Junction with Stroud, will also be re-engineered along the west side of the facility as part of the project.

In the latest stage, Ecotricity Next Generation Ltd has submitted a landscape and ecological management plan (LEMP) for a 'discharge of conditions', a planning stage that ensure the developer and planners are in step as early stage of the work move ahead.

The LEMP, submitted by Stroud-based Davies Landscape Architects (DLA), addresses the fine details for management and upkeep of the zone west of the A419, where work on training pitches and landscaping is already under way now that archaeological checks on the site of a Roman villa have been completed.

Once rubber-stamped, it will mean that Forest Green's men's, women's and academy teams will be free to begin use of the site. Training facilities are currently split between sites at Hartpury and Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire.

In a statement on its website, DLA said: "Eco-Park will create a regionally important cluster of like-minded companies from the zero-carbon economy and with the flagship Zaha Hadid designed Stadium as its centrepiece."

The company added: "We laid out the masterplan such that the stadium retains its landmark status, set within parkland. The stadium location was moved to facilitate three distinct employment clusters set within a robust landscape framework and connected by pedestrian cycle routes and are complimentary to the stadium, sharing access roads, car parks, parkland areas and food and beverage facilities, which would otherwise be empty during the week."

A new transport hub, DLA said, with "enhanced pedestrian/cycle routes including a bridge over the A419 will help to drive modal shift and as a whole will provide a genuinely unique opportunity to facilitate a 'high quality gateway' to Stroud".

As such, Eco Park will be an "exemplar model for future business parks in how to achieve net zero carbon development".

● FGR made global headlines this week after owner Dale Vince appointed Hannah Dingley as the first woman manager in UK professional football.

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