Local people to have more say over Memorial Ground’s future

November 27 2015

LOCAL people will have more say over the future of Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Stadium, now that the council has agreed to list the site as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ (ACV).

LOCAL people will have more say over the future of Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Stadium, now that the council has agreed to list the site as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ (ACV).

The successful application was made by the Bishopston Society, with support from Gryff Rhys Jones, the president of national charity Civic Voice, and has been welcomed by local campaigners.  

Under the Localism Act 2011, ACV status means that if the stadium comes up for sale, eligible community interest groups would have a six week window to bid to purchase the site, and a six month opportunity to raise the money.

The announcement from the council – who has also declared that next year’s Remembrance Sunday parade will be held at the MemorialStadium to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Somme – has come following Sainsbury’s winning its case to terminate its contract with Bristol Rovers.

Rovers needed to sell the ground to the supermarket in order to fund a 21,000-seater stadium in Frenchay. But Sainsbury’s declared its desire to pull out of the £30million deal at the end of last year.   

Rovers’ appeal in their long-running legal dispute with Sainsbury's is due to be heard by the High Court at the end of January.

A spokesperson from the Bishopston Society said: “ACV status is a timely and welcome recognition by the council of the significance to Bristol of the historic war memorial sports ground. 

“It was almost the first war memorial to be built in the city after the Great War – and it predates the Cenotaph in the centre by many years.

“It had enormous public support, both heartfelt and financially. Every day is a day of remembrance and every mention of the groundmemorialises the fallen rugby players.

“It is through sport that the soldier sportsmen are remembered. The ground remains the city’s largest and, in many ways most effective and poignant, war memorial. 

“It has been an under-appreciated jewel in the crown of the Horfield-Bishopston area.”

Traders and Residents against Sainsbury’s Horfield (TRASH), who have been campaigning to preserve the stadium – built to commemorate the fallen rugby players of World War I and II – has welcomed the news.

A spokesperson from the group said: “Does the Memorial Ground have a future as a war memorial sports ground? The answer, in the short term at least, is ‘yes’.

“The two recent announcements from Bristol City Council are encouraging. Together, they signal some recognition of this First World Warmemorial sports ground’s historical significance.”

Memorial Stadium