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Forest Green submits revised plans for all-wooden stadium

Green energy company Ecotricity has revealed revised plans for its Eco Park development, with the stadium slated to serve as the new home of League Two football club Forest Green Rovers.

The 5,000-seat stadium, which will be made entirely of wood, will be built next to Junction 13 of the M5 motorway in Gloucestershire. The stadium was approved in December 2019 and the revisited plan includes the use of land on both sides of the A419 to include a green tech business park.

The site will feature 38,000 square metres of office space and 18,000 square metres of industrial space, with the space designed to host companies working in the zero-carbon economy.

Forest Green said the development will contribute around £150m (€180m/$201m) to the local economy annually, while generating £2m per year in business rates for Stroud District Council.

After the club’s plans were initially rejected by Stroud District Council in June 2019, outline planning permission was eventually granted in December of that year.

Rovers chairman Dale Vince labelled the council’s decision to initially reject the plans as “farcical”. After the project was approved, Vince hit back at critics of the safety and green credentials of the plans.

The full plan, submitted today (Thursday), aligns with proposed changes to the local plan and the district council and Gfirst LEP’s intention to bring green industries and knowledge-intensive sectors into the M5 growth zone.

Ecotricity also plans on building a comprehensive new training facility for the club at Eco Park. The move would bring training back into the district for the first time since Rovers went professional and the club hopes to begin work on initial training facilities this spring.

Rovers said the plans will improve the habitat on the site, with a biodiversity net gain of almost 12%. The site is also expected to self-generate over 80% of all energy used.

An extensive archaeological survey and dig has already begun on the site ahead of the construction work. The dig is expected to take three to four months and will look for Roman artefacts.

Vince said: “It’s taken a long time to get here, but Eco Park and the local plan are now aligned and we are measurably closer to being able to start work.

“With Eco Park we’ll be able to properly push the boundaries of sustainable development. The beating green heart of this project will be the lowest carbon football stadium in the world ever, at least since the Romans invented concrete – which is fitting given we’ve got Roman remains on the site.

“We’re hoping to get to work on training facilities in the next couple of months – and ultimately create a fantastic facility for all elements of the FGR football family to train together.”

Forest Green is recognised by the United Nations and FIFA as the world’s greenest football club. The club currently plays at The New Lawn, naming rights to which are held by Fully Charged, a YouTube channel dedicated to clean energy and electric vehicles.

Fully Charged replaced drinks manufacturer Innocent as the stadium’s naming-rights sponsor.

Image: Forest Green Rovers