Eastington Parish Council (EPC) was pleased to witness that the prolonged negotiations and additional information submitted to the District Council have finally been considered. On 12th June Development Control Committee at Stroud District Council the elected Members of the Council resolved to refuse the application as a result of concerns raised and it is hoped that some direction can now be taken from this decision.
The decision ratifies the Parish Council views that the scheme, which only assessed the noise and transport provision for a replacement 5,000 seater Stadium (but capable of seating 10,000) and practice pitches for Forest Green Rovers was flawed in its location, justification of need, impacts on amenities, lack of community facilities and impacts on the wider landscape and lacking transport considerations.
CPRE Gloucestershire (The Campaign to Protect Rural England) was very relieved that planning permission for this controversial development was refused. A key issue is that the planning system is supposed to be “plan led”. The current local plan was adopted as recently November 2015 and was the result of much work and extensive consultation. The site was not allocated for development in the plan and we consider there are more appropriate locations that could be used.
Eastington PC notes the concerns raised by the Cotswold Canals Trust that the planning decision puts the canal restoration project at risk; however, a reversal of the planning decision does not remove that risk.
The stadium plans excluded the floodplain area where a separate application by the Stroud Valleys Canal Company seeks to secure planning permission for the “Missing Mile” of canal. District Council officers at the development control committee were quite clear that the canal route could not be considered as a material consideration in the stadium application. Mr Vince is one of the many landowners with whom the Trust have had to negotiate with to progress the canal restoration project and it is hoped that he will not withhold support for the project.
Whilst EPC acknowledge that Ecotricity and its place on the green stage is important to Stroud, this should not outweigh the normal considerations for development set out in the Local Plan for Stroud. EPC remain concerned that, whilst no part of this application, future plans proposing part of the site area for a commercial use should be directed to the many brownfield sites within the district or to existing allocated sites which as yet are unused rather than developing on greenfield sites which affect the setting of the Cotswold AONB.