Government Clears Way for £40m Bristol Rovers Stadium
Bristol Rovers FC’s dream of building a new £40m stadium took a massive step forward today as the government said it would not block the redevelopment of the club’s current home. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has decided not to delay the application by Sainsbury’s to build a new supermarket on the site of the Memorial Stadium. The club needs to sell its current ground to the supermarket giant to fund a move to a new stadium at Frenchay on land owned by the University of the West of England.
South Gloucestershire Council last July approved plans for a 21,700-seat stadium in Stoke Gifford subject to improvements to local transport infrastructure. A section 106 agreement and formally sealing the deal with Sainsbury’s appears to be the last hurdles facing the club. Rovers chairman Nick Higgs published a message on the club’s website saying “I am pleased to confirm that Bristol City Council have been informed by the secretary of state that he has approved the decision to grant planning permission to J Sainsbury’s for a mixed use development on our existing site.”
The new ground will be called the UWE Stadium and will include a banqueting and hospitality suite, convenience store, gym, jogging track and teaching space for the University. Sainsbury’s proposal at the Memorial Stadium site includes a store, work space, community facilities, homes and ample parking. Redevelopment of the Memorial Ground site will include the demolition of the stadium and existing buildings and the erection of a food store and 65 houses and apartments. Together the proposals represent a construction investment of £60m. Buckingham Group is understood to be in negotiations with Bristol Rovers about building the next stadium.
Under the complex deal, the University of the West of England will lease the land for the new stadium to the club and get access for students to club facilities and media rooms on non-match days. Students will also have the chance to buy discounted match tickets.