Approval for a new 5,000-seat all-wood stadium for English Football League club Forest Green Rovers could be granted next week.
The League Two club, whose chairman is green energy businessman Dale Vince, said its new ground would be entirely made of wood and would also include a car park for 1,700 vehicles, two full size grass practice pitches and a goal practice area.
Planning officers at Stroud District Council said the new stadium, which has been designed by architect Zaha Hadid, would allow Rovers – which last year became the first football club in the world to be certified carbon neutral under the UN’s Climate Neutral Now initiative – to “enter a new era”.
Vince, the owner of the electricity company Ecotricity, said detailed designs for the stadium would be completed in about 12 months. He added that the new ground could be open after “three or maybe four” football seasons.
He said, according to the BBC: “It’s going to be made all of wood. It’ll be the first stadium in the world to be built that way. I think that’ll make it slightly slower to build than a conventional steel and concrete stadium.”
The club, which last year was named by FIFA as the “greenest football club in the world”, said on its website that the new Eco Park, would be sited in parkland where some 500 trees and 1.8km of new hedgerows would be planted.
A council report to be presented to the authority’s development control committee next week said: “The proposed development will allow the club to enter a new era, with a purpose-built stadium, with training facilities centrally located and presenting a ‘modern image’, encouraging staff and players alike to aim high.
“The proposal stadium will elevate the football ambitions to another level, increase the support base and has the potential to make FGR financially viable going forward.
“The new stadium has the potential to be a sustainable home for FGR into the future, allowing them to compete at a higher level and make progress on the pitch. This has the potential to some degree to encourage greater participation including the women’s and youth sections of the club.”
Earlier plans to build a green technology business park and offices were removed from the proposal, due to excessive noise pollution at a local care home.
Forest Green has played homes games at the 5,100-capacity The New Lawn since 2006. The club’s existing green initiatives include the recycling of rainwater and the use of a solar-powered robotic lawnmower to cut the grass on its pitches.
Image: Zaha Hadid Architects