Bristol Rovers FC could be about to start construction on a brand new stadium as the government decided against delaying redevelopment plans at the club's ground.
The League Two side have been looking to build the £40 million stadium but had been held back over issues of their current home. The club needs to sell the Memorial Stadium in order to generate funds to make the move to the new facility at Frenchay on land owned by the University of the West of England. The plans had hit a stumbling block when communities secretary Eric Pickles proposed delaying an application from Sainsbury's to build a new supermarket on Rovers' current ground for further scrutiny.
However, Mr Pickles has now announced that the redevelopment will not be blocked and the club can now move ahead with the plans. Rovers had plans approved for the 21,700-seat stadium by South Gloucestershire Council in July 2012 but success was all down to whether they could secure funds for the site.
As part of the redevelopment of the Memorial Stadium, 65 houses and apartments will also be created alongside the major Sainsbury's outlet. With the creation of the new stadium it will represent a £60 million construction investment and will provide a significant boost for both Rovers and the city of Bristol.
Writing on the club's official website, Rovers chairman Nick Higgs said: "I am pleased to confirm that Bristol City Council has been informed by the secretary of state that he has approved the decision to grant planning permission to J Sainsbury’s for a mixed use development on our existing site."
Once completed, the club will lease the land from the university allowing students to use the team's facilities and media rooms on non-match days. To highlight this key partnership, Rovers announced that the ground will be named the UWE Stadium.
While things off the pitch are moving at a pace, performances on the pitch have been indifferent. The Pirates currently sit 15th in League Two, 11 points off the relegation zone and 12 points away from the play-offs. They have enjoyed a positive March, however, winning three of their four matches during the month including a 2-0 win over rivals Exeter.
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