South Glos Council give the go ahead
Today was a momentous day for Bristol Rovers as South Gloucestershire Council approved the plans for the new UWE Stadium.
Councillors voted 12-1 in favour of the scheme at a meeting this afternoon.
It was fantastic news for Gasheads everywhere who were glued to twitter as the results came in.
Speaking during the meeting Chairman Nick Higgs said: "This application is a unique partnership between professional sport and education in South Gloucestershire and will bring national recognition to the region, being the first of it's kind in the UK.
"The development will be privately financed without the input of public finance, yet will provide our partners UWE with a much needed replacement car park, which will be shared on event days with the football club.
"In addition the new stadium will provide much needed community facilities, including a gymnasium, convenience store, meeting rooms, banquet hall, bars and a covered jogging track.
"It is essential for the club to develop a new stadium to ensure its sustainable future.
"For decades the club has been searching for a suitable site to build a stadium. Numerous sites have been considered, but none have ultimately been proven to be viable.
"It is therefore imperative to the future of professional sport in the region that the club develops a new stadium with international standard facilties for football and rugby, to encourage success and a sustainable future.
"If the professional clubs prosper and are successful the knock on effect is a huge feel good factor for the area. This is demonstrated by the recent success of Swansea City, Reading and Brighton to name a few.
"Each of these clubs has gained success following the development of their new stadiums. In each case these clubs were in a similar position to Bristol Rovers before their new stadiums were constructed and now entertain top flight Premier League and Championship teams.
"It is our ambition to emulate the success of these clubs, and a new stadium in the club's heartland of South Gloucestershire is the first stage of this process."
The Chairman then went on to say that the club wishes to be a good neighbour and work with the local community.
He said: "We have undertaken extensive consultations and incorporated numerous design changes throughout this time, after listening to the views of local residents, local businesses and South Gloucestershire Council and Highways Departments.
"Where ever possible we have taken on board suggestions and recommendations in an effort to satisfy concerns of all parties and adjusted our proposals accordingly.
"It would be our wish to be a good neighbour and we will continue to work with the local community and businesses to provide a facility which we can all be proud of, to the overall benefit of the region.
"The philosophy of the club has always been to be a valued part of the community and we currently undertake a number of community initiatives without our community department.
"I hope that our application demonstrates the commitment of the club to the future prosperity and wellbeing of the community."
Two local residents spoke against the stadium during the meeting, and a number of issues were also raised by the committee members.
But the council's planning officer and traffic officer were able to clarify a number of issues.
In June last year, the Club and UWE Bristol announced their aspiration to build a new stadium on land near the University's Frenchay Campus. The move would be financed by selling the Memorial Stadium site to Sainsbury's.
A new stadium will not only allow Rovers to build for a better future, it will also act as a boost to the local economy providing community use and employment opportunities.
The plans for the 21,700 all-seated stadium include an extensive club shop, banqueting and hospitality suite, convenience store, gym, jogging track and teaching space.
The economic design of the new stadium will be a bowl design, which makes use of the sloping ground to minimise the height of the structure and the impact on the local skyline, and reduce light and noise pollution.
It will also benefit from excellent transport links, including; the A4174, Abbey Wood and Parkway train stations and excellent bus services and close links to the motorways. There will also be a large car park with space for 1,000 cars and coaches - with additional 1,500 spaces available on the campus if deemed necessary.
Bristol Rugby Club has been offered the opportunity to move to the new ground at UWE Bristol, which has been designed to meet all FIFA and international Rugby Union standards.
The stadium and its high quality recreational and non-recreational facilities will also be available for the students and local community for use on non match days, and the University believe it will help greatly enhance the current 'student experience' as well as creating extra income for the club.
It will also allow Rovers to continue and develop the vital work the club does in the community from both our education centre and the Football in the Community departments.
As well as use of the bars, fitness facilities and the local shop, students will also be offered a range of casual employment opportunities on match days, as well as the chance to buy discounted match tickets. We will also offer packages to local residents.
Staff and students will also be able to use the large car park, which would be used to replace a temporary car park that is currently used by UWE.
This is a momentous day for the club, but we have to remember that this is only half time. We now have to hope that Bristol City Council approve Sainsbury's plans for the current Memorial Stadium site.