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Gloucestershire Business News

Forest Green Rovers to move out of home of 130 years as stadium plans are approved

Forest Green Rovers should be playing in their state-of-the-art wooden stadium near to junction 13 of the M5 motorway by the middle of the next decade.

Rovers chairman and Ecotricity supremo Dale Vince said that the project will take at least three years to complete after finally gaining outline planning permission last night.

Stroud District Council's Development Control Committee voted by six votes to four to approve the stadium at the second attempt after initially rebuffing the scheme in June.

The inclusion of an artificial practise pitch for use by the local community was enough to sway the vote in Rovers' favour and the club are now poised to leave their home of more than 130 years.

Speaking after yesterday's planning meeting Mr Vince said: "I am pleased, It is the right decision and I am glad it was made at our second attempt.

"It has been five years in planning and we were looking for a site for three years. It has passed every hurdle, been recommended by officers twice and it was a surprise it was turned down last time.

"It was turned down on party political lines and the voting showed that hasn't changed. The proximity to the election could have had an impact.

"But the Conservatives voted as a block last time and they voted as a block this time too but it didn't make a difference.

"That is unfortunate that they didn't take the whole district into account.

The new stadium to the west of Stonehouse is eight miles away from their traditional home in Forest Green, a district of Nailsworth.

The 5,000 stadium designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid will be constructed entirely out of wood, marking a first for stadium design.

Work will now begin on detailed designs that will go forward as part of a reserved matters application that will lay down the definitive final design.

That process can now begin with Mr Vince saying that it in itself will be a lengthy process before spades can be put in the ground.

"It is going to take several years," he said. "This is an outline planning permission and the detailed designs will take another year or so and run to hundreds of pages of detail.

"There is a lot of work to do to design and then it has to pass planning again, although that should prove to be easier.

"The architect is saying that it will take two years to build it, so we are looking at three years at least."

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