Legal bid could delay Bristol Rovers’ new stadium

12-August-2013
12-August-2013 11:39
in General
by Rachel Gardner, The Bristol Post

The Green Party has said it is not behind a possible legal move that could hold  up development of Bristol Rovers’ new stadium.

The club has been made aware of an intention to launch a judicial review into plans to build a new Sainsbury’s on the Memorial Stadium site, a move which would help pay for their new ground.

Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs said it had been brought to his attention that the Green Party was behind the action.

But Daniella Radice, Green councillor for Bishopston ward – which includes the Filton Avenue stadium – told the Bristol Post that while she was a member of the group that had written to Bristol City Council’s lawyers regarding the decision to give the Sainsbury’s supermarket the go-ahead, it was not as a Green party member.

Ms Radice said she could not speak for the group, who have sent a notice, called a letter before action, to the city council, but said it was made up of people from different political parties and those who do not have a background in politics.

She added that the group has not yet made a decision about whether it will launch a judicial review over the planning decision.

Mr Higgs said: “I have seen the letter, but I am not too upset about things at the moment because there is an awful long way to go on this.

“I think the city council have brought in a barrister to respond to the letter and have been very robust in their response.

“Based on the conversations I have had with the council, they are confident that everything they did was in accordance with planning regulations.

“This is absolutely nothing to do with the stadium or the ground or anything to do with the football club or Sainsbury’s. It is purely to do with procedural matters with regards to the granting of the planning application.”

Mr Higgs added he was concerned that this would create a delay to the start of the new stadium, but urged supporters to stay calm.
Dennis Payter, 66, a Bristol Rovers’ fan of more than 50 years who writes a football column for the Post and lives in Keynsham, said:

“Another possible delay is totally frustrating for everyone. We have wanted for so long to get a new stadium and we thought the club had gone through all the correct hoops and hurdles and was ready to go.

“It’s so very disappointing to face another delay at such a time.”

In January, councillors gave permission for the club’s current home to be turned into a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

A council spokesman said: “We are aware that someone is potentially seeking to challenge the legitimacy of our Development Control Committee decision in relation to the Memorial Ground site. To our knowledge this challenge is not at the stage of a judicial review, but we have received a notice of intent, which was handled by our lawyers as a matter of routine.

“Of course we will vigorously defend any such challenge, and are confident in our position, but will not give a running commentary on these matters.”

The football club has said it needs to sell its current ground to Sainsbury’s to fund the move to a new 21,700-seat stadium near UWE in Stoke Gifford, South Gloucestershire.

Pictured: Artist's impression of the Sainsbury's supermarket.

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