Dale Vince of Ecotricity has the ambition to build a flagship 5000 seater football stadium for Forest Green Rovers on one side of the A419 between the Starbucks/Shell Garage roundabout and the Motorway, supported by an even more massive industrial estate on the other side.
He calls this an ‘eco park’ because some of the building methods and materials are supposed to be ‘low carbon’ and state of the art, and he ‘wants’ it to be a ‘green technology’ hub. (Oh yes, and he is a vegan). There is nothing in the outline planning application to ensure that this would be the case.
It is clear that the effect on all our local roads would be catastrophic. Westend, one of Eastington’s oldest hamlets, already being attacked on one side by the WoS development, would be annihilated. The residents of William Morris College would be seriously affected. The tranquil and rural nature of our parish would receive yet another body blow – and for NO GOOD REASON.
From our surveys, it is clear that very few Eastington people ‘want’ the football stadium there. The lack of any sort of public transport in the area totally negates any ‘green-ness’ of the building itself or any sustainablility claimed. The business park would largely serve to suck businesses from Stroud town centre and other population centres of the district – including, probably, the Ecotricity offices themselves, causing more people to have to drive to work – hardly green or sustainable.
There are, however, some people who see this as some sort of ‘achievement’ – thinking perhaps that it will drive new jobs and money into the District. We think it would just move things around a bit, denying jobs in more sustainable locations – and even if it does draw some business in from outside Stroud district, the cost in terms of the inevitable traffic chaos and loss of facility is overwhelming. At present there is a perfectly adequate demonstrable land-supply for business, distributed around the district where it is needed. Ecotricity are trying to deny this, just as they are trying to fudge the traffic figures with so-called experts pitted against each other, all just costing more money- some of theirs, and a lot of ours!
The planning application was submitted to Stroud in 2016, but is so full of holes (particularly on traffic analyses) that, a year later on, no date for determination has yet been set . The whole project is so completely outside the newly minted Local Plan that it is an embarassment to democracy that the application is even being considered at this time. You can see how things have developed over the past year or two on our archive site
Update – November 2017
Having been sent away to ‘think again’ about so many aspects of this application, Dale Vince has finally got the message that it really will not fly. He blames Highways Dept for taking too long to consider things, and other bureaucratic delays – he would much rather people just passed his application than actually spend time thinking about the implications for the rest of us! Soooo, he is, apparently, about to make a new application that he thinks will get around the major objections.
His new plan is to split the application into two parts, and to move the Stadium to the North side of the A419 instead if the south. This is supposed to mitigate the effect on William Morris College ( not a lot!) and generally be more acceptable. He is planning, for the moment, to drop the application for the Business Park – UNTIL (in his own words) the planners ‘do their job properly’ and formally include the Southside plot as a potential business development site in the Local Plan at review.
You can Click here to go to the SDC website to see the full Local Plan Review ‘Issues and Options’ document. You can participate in an on-line ‘survey’ to give your response to questions posed about various options. The critical question as far as this application is concerned is this one:-
Do you think locating growth adjacent to M5
junctions should be supported; or would
continuing expansion of employment land at
existing settlements/sites be preferable?
We have always maintained that building a ‘honeypot’ business park at Jn 13 would be disastrous for the rest of the district (as well as for our rural aspect). It would largely serve to draw jobs away from existing, sustainable employments sites such as Stroud town centre tself, as well as deterring the provision of new jobs in more distributed (and more sustainable) locations around the district. – e.g at Dursley, Hunts Grove, Sharpness etc..
Bearing in mind that there is already a substantial provision for employment land associated with WoS close by, there is absolutely no benefit in attracting even more jobs away from those other areas in the District that really need them. Some of the new businesses may well come from outside the district – from Bristol or even Swindon, say – which might increase revenue to Stroud – but they would also bring a whole load of new commuters into the area, with all the consequent traffic concerns and infrastructure requirements.
The balance is clearly in favour of distributing jobs around the already planned/existing sites and settlements.
You can still see the original planning application details, and have your say on the Stroud Planning website ( Planning Application Ref: is S.16/0043/OUT), although this application has effectively been withdrawn, now. We will update this as when any new applications are formally presented.
Click on ‘Ecotricity Updates’ below to see all our latest posts and news on this matter.