Bristol Rovers' new stadiumBy Huseyin Hamilton

The long-awaited approval for the 21,700-seater stadium to be built has finally been confirmed.

A land-side vote was undertaken by South Gloucestershire councillors in which they voted 12-1 for the development of the stadium to go ahead, as long as local transport infrastructure and prevention of uncontrolled on-street car parking were addressed and solutions were found.

The stadium will not just be used for football. It will also host rugby matches as well as events, facilitate internships to appropriate candidates and provide teaching spaces for university purposes. A range of social spaces are also included such as the gym, club shop, bar and offices.

It is also proposed that during the construction of the stadium, students undertaking relevant degrees will be able to monitor the progress and processes of the assembly of the stadium in addition to marketing and business students given the opportunity to assist with the promotion of the stadium to the public.

Unfortunately, even though people believe it will be able to host major concert events, South Gloucestershire Council have demanded that a restriction on open air music concerts be put in place; the specifics of which are undisclosed to the public at this point.

Craig Rawlinson, a Bristol Rovers spokesman, said he was happy with the location of the proposed stadium however objector Lesley Cox voiced that it was the “silliest place to put a stadium”.

Residents of neighbouring Cheswick Village and nearby Stoke Park are the main source of the objections to the scheme claiming that their respective residential areas will be used for parking during matchdays.

Barbara Pearce, a nearby resident, sided with Lesley Cox saying “I don’t see why we should put up with massive parking problems.”

While another, Derek Parsons, believed that Bristol Rovers’ would require 800 fans finding residential matchday-parking.

Ed Ware, a Bristol Rovers director, announced that he wanted to make it clear that Bristol Rovers understand the voiced concerns and are making an effort to reduce to negative impacts on residents.

“I think it’s absolutely clear we understand what the issues are and residential amenity and transportation are probably top of the list.”

“The scheme is a design where 22,000 seats are below ground and were put forward as a way of minimising the visual impact of the stadium.”

“It’s fully enclosed which will deal with light and noise pollution.”

Mr Rawlinson furthered Rovers’ argument: “The pedestrian and cycle routes and the road infrastructure here is really good for a stadium.”

“The key issue is the parking and making sure we have enough parking to suit our own needs.”

He ensured that the football club would contribute towards a warden scheme and could use extra parking in neighbouring UWE, the 30,000+ student university, to boost on-site spaces to 2,500.

More than 1,100 letters of support have been sent to South Gloucestershire Council since the planning application for the stadium was lodged, whilst only about 100 objections have been received.

Bristol Rovers currently play their home games at the Memorial Stadium in Horfield which it is planned to be given to Sainsbury’s.

With UWE already being well represented on the National and International scene with athletes such as Andrew Pozzi (110 metre Hurdles), Larry Godfrey (Archery – Individual & Team), Craig Figes (Water Polo) and Pete Reed (Rowing Pairs), who has won 6 medals in the last 7 years, many people believe the stadium partnership will only project Britain’s new young talent even further.

UWE’s ambitions received numerous positive remarks and praises from around the country, including five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave who visited the site last year meeting Professor Steve West, Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs and student representatives of UWE.

The project will make UWE the first and only University campus in the UK with a 20,000-seater stadium, an accomplishment that Steve Redgrave described being ‘extremely positive and may help encourage the next generation of British sports stars.’

“It is fantastic that, by pooling their resources, UWE & Bristol Rovers will allow students at the university to have access to the same state-of-the-art facilities as professional sportsmen and women.”