A new £40m stadium is now a big step closer for Bristol Rovers Football Club after plans were approved by South Gloucestershire Council today (Thursday July 19th). It is a huge day in the history of the club, potentially securing its long-term future within the city. It’s also a step forward in chairman Nick Higgs’ hopes of making it into the Championship.
The club described the decision as a 'momentous day for the club'.
Rovers has stolen the glory from arch-rivals Bristol City, whose own stadium plans for Ashton Vale, remain in the middle of a bitter planning dispute with residents living nearby. Although the new Rovers' stadium site is not technically in Bristol, but in South Gloucestershire, fans do not seem too worried.
The club went into today’s meeting feeling pretty confident after the plans were recommended for approval last week by planning officers. It will be Rovers' third base since leaving their spiritual home at the old Eastville Stadium in 1986. Councillors voted 12-1 in favour of the plans for the new 21,700 all seater arena, which will be built on land acquired from the University of the West of England on the northern fringe of the city.
The stadium plans now depend on the club being able to sell its current site at the Memorial Ground in Horfield. Bristol Rovers said today's decision was 'half time' and it is now hoping a plan by Sainsbury's for a supermarket at the Memorial Ground site will be looked upon favourably when it goes before Bristol planners in September in order to help fund the whole project.
Although two local residents spoke against the stadium during the meeting, and a number of issues were also raised by the committee members, after around two hours the vote was taken to approve the plans. It is not known whether Bristol Rugby Club, who currently share the Memorial ground, will join them.