Forest Green Rovers and Ecotricity owner Dale Vince has revealed that a date has been set for a public enquiry meeting regarding plans for his football team’s new stadium.
The date that the enquiry will take place on February 18 next year.
Mr Vince had said that he would appeal Stroud District Council’s decision to not award him planning permission to build the stadium on the proposed site next to the M5 in July this year.
The application involved building a 5,000-seater wooden stadium on fields off junction 13 of the M5, near Eastington.
Seven councillors on a planning committee voted against the proposal earlier this year, whilst four supported the application.
On his official Facebook page, Mr Vince posted: “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 Xmas so close and an election taking place that month, I’m not convinced that date will stick. In which case we’re into January.
“We were eating into the time limit for the appeal, that’s why we submitted it. We’d also like this resolved.
“The outlook in July was that it would take 12 months or more for the appeal or 3 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 3 to 4 months – if I’d have known that then, I think we would probably have appealed, for the certainty and short timeframe.
“Eco Park has been in planning now for about five years, it is a little frustrating – though we’re used to having to be patient (our first windmill took five years to get through) and our experience is that when pushing boundaries with new ideas you have to be – the planning system and people fairly generally are conservative (small c), it takes time and patience.
“Additionally, in the background the Local Plan is moving on, Eco Park is now in the Local Plan review process as land suitable for mixed Sports and Employment use – exactly what we’ve been asking for, and not being in the Local Plan has been one of the major arguments holding us up.
“So 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 Dec 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.”