Bristol Rovers have moved a step closer to securing a new all-seater stadium after the council backed plans to build a supermarket on the site of their current ground.
The League Two club have been looking to move away from the Memorial Stadium after gaining approval from South Gloucestershire Council for a new 21,700-seat ground in Stoke Gifford in July 2012.
However, these plans have moved further ahead as Bristol City authority has now given its consent for a Sainsbury's store to take the place of the The Pirates' former home. The proposals had come under criticism from objectors, but the plans will now go before government when a final decision will be made on the development.
Campaigners previously stated that creating a Sainsbury's on the Memorial Stadium site would be a "car-centric development" as well as having an adverse effect on the local retailers that are situated on the nearby Gloucester Road. However, Bristol Rovers stated that they need to sell the current ground before they could make the move to a new stadium and Sainsbury's provided the ideal candidate to take the project on and make a success of it.
Councillor Chris Windows, committee chair, said: "The arguments for and against this development were finely balanced but members were happy to approve because of the overall wider benefits that this proposal brings in terms of a new purpose-built stadium for the area.
"This supermarket development will support important new jobs and additional housing – 40 per cent of which will be affordable."
Bristol Rovers have been playing their homes games at the Memorial Stadium since 1996 following a series of moves between the Eastville Stadium, which they vacated in 1986, and Twerton Park. While the ground has served the club well in the past 17 years, it only has a seating capacity of 2,500 out of 12,011 and needs to be modernised.
The city of Bristol was also shortlisted as a host city for the failed English World Cup bid for 2018 and 2022 and had the nation been successful it would have seen the creation of a 44,000-seater stadium in the south-west city.
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