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Bristol City new stadium plans approved

Thu 11th Feb 2010 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Bristol City Council yesterday approved the Bristol City FC's plans for a new stadium at Ashton Vale.

City had already received a 'minded to approve' verdict from the Planning Committee last November, and last night the amendments were also given the green light.

Speaking on BBC Radio Bristol, Steve said: "It's very pleasing. We didn't take anything for granted but the team did well and the result was the right one.

"The officers' report was very positive about everything we had done and it would have been a major disappointment if we hadn't got the result last night.

"It's disappointing when other things get thrown in at the last minute, such as renewable energy, but we come to expect that now.

"Many years ago Bristol City Council, along with Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, did an extensive survey looking at sites for a new stadium in the region. Redeveloping Ashton Gate, a stadium already here in the city, came back top and then the Ashton Vale site was next.

"You have to put things in perspective. We're talking about a landfill site which is not usable for much. To use it for a brand new, state-of-the-art regional stadium is very good use of land.

"You're never going to please everyone and people will be sceptical if they live close to the site. The majority of Bristol is in favour of the stadium and I think it will make a massive difference for the region.

"The need for the stadium is two-fold; the catchment area of Bristol is huge but we're not attracting them to our football in the city because we don't have the facilities.

"The stadium will allow us to attract more people in and they will come to a new stadium. It also allows the club to be sustainable and allow it to stand on its own two feet.

"We don't want to be going through the dramas of Portsmouth and Cardiff. The other thing is we want to attract the best players and we need the infrastructure to support it."

The plans now go to the secretary of state, who has 21 days to decide whether to 'call in' the project - to be built on green belt land - for an inquiry. But City remain hopeful this will not be the case.

The club must also meet with North Somerset Council in the near future to gain permission to build an access road - something originally turned down in late 2009.

Steve added: "We've had good meetings with North Somerset Council and when the next date comes around we are hopeful we will receive a positive outcome by working together closely.

"The same applies with the Bristol Council application going off to Government now. You can never take anything for granted and we won't be sitting quietly waiting for the decision to come, we'll be trying to find out what questions need to be answered and hopefully show them the benefits of the scheme."

The chairman also commented on the club's disappointing recent results.

He acknowledged: "We're still struggling. It's a difficult time. You think you see some light at the end of the tunnel then it goes away again.

"Football is like that and I wouldn't be in the game if I wasn't prepared to suffer some low points and struggles to get to the peaks.

"We've put in an awful lot of money to date to get to where we are and I don't think our ambitions should be judged by struggles within one season. I'm not very pleased with [the results].

"We had a good solid start to the season which has kept us well away from the relegation zone and closer to the play-offs. The recent results are turning that around and we have to stop that pretty soon."

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