PWA helps with plans for £100m Eco Park

PWA Planning has submitted plans on behalf of green energy company Ecotricity for the creation of a £100m Eco Park in Gloucestershire.

The development, on a 40 hectare site next to junction 13 of the M5, would see the creation of a sports complex, including a new 5,000 capacity stadium for Forest Green Rovers, a ‘green technology’ employment hub, and a nature conservation area.

PWA Planning has worked alongside architecture and design practice FWP to bring forward the planning application for the Eco Park which is the vision of Ecotricity founder Dale Vince and would create up to 4,000 new jobs.

PWA Planning conducted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and submitted an environmental statement as part of the submission to Stroud District Council.

Daniel Hughes, senior planner at PWA Planning, said: “This is an ambitious and exciting development that has the potential to create thousands of jobs, will give Ecotricity significant room to expand, and allow Forest Green Rovers to grow commercially, not to mention the benefits to the local sporting community.

“This is the third large-scale mixed-use sports development we’ve been involved in with FWP, so it’s an area where we’re building up valuable expertise. Also to be involved in a project with a brand like Ecotricity is a real coup for us.

“The project has required a number of specialist planning services, such as the preparation of an environmental statement, which is a significant piece of work and a service for which we’re seeing increasing demand.”

Located on either side of the A419, half of Eco Park will consist of state-of-the-art sporting facilities, including the 5,000 capacity stadium for the National League club, grass and all-weather training pitches, multi-disciplinary facilities and a sports science hub.

The other half of the site will be home to a green technology business park with sustainably-built commercial offices and light industrial units. The masterplan also includes the potential development of a public transport hub, including a Stroud Park and Ride.

It will see Ecotricity work with the Cotswold Canals Trust to open up part of the ‘missing mile’ of the Stroudwater canal beside the M5. Should the football club achieve its target of reaching the Football League, the flexible design of the stadium will allow capacity to be doubled to 10,000.

Dale Vince is also chairman of Forest Green Rovers and Ecotricity is the biggest employer in Stroud with 600 people located across four sites in the town centre. Part of the idea of Eco Park is also to provide room for the continued expansion of the company’s operations.

Neil Ainsworth, partner at FWP, said: “We believe Eco Park will be a fantastic development for Stroud, a great new home for Forest Green Rovers, and a centre of excellence for sport in the area.

“Ecotricity really want to develop a place where green businesses and innovative companies in the sector can really thrive. We’ve approached everything in the masterplan in an eco-friendly way. The planned 5,000 capacity stadium is intended to be architecturally organic and fluid in its nature with sections of the roof potentially rising seamlessly from the surrounding landscape.

“Eco Park also aims to be carbon neutral or carbon negative, by including measures such as the provision of on-site renewable energy generation. The development boasting new infrastructure will be of wide community value. It will deliver both new exciting sporting facilities and green jobs.”

Dale Vince said: “Eco Park is going to be a place where green businesses and technology companies come together and share ideas, a real focal point of creativity and innovation for the area – and a part of the green industrial revolution that’s beginning to take off around the world.

“We love it in Stroud, we want to stay here, and Eco Park will enable us to do that. We have a number of new ideas we’re working on that will need space and will create more jobs – Eco Park would be a perfect place for that.”

PWA Planning has also worked as planning consultants with FWP on a successful application to create an £18 million mixed-use development on the outskirts of Kirkham in Lancashire, which includes a new ground for ambitious non-league football club AFC Fylde.

It has also provided planning advice for the creation of a multi-million pound out-of-town football and leisure development for Football League club Scunthorpe United.