Wrangle means Rovers will stay at the Mem for an additional season

June 27 2014

THE contentious battle between Bristol Rovers and anti-supermarket campaigners has resulted in the football club not being able to move into their new stadium until the 2016/17 season, it has been announced.

THE contentious battle between Bristol Rovers and anti-supermarket campaigners has resulted in the football club not being able to move into their new stadium until the 2016/17 season, it has been announced.

A judicial review of the planning procedures behind building a Sainsbury's in place of the ground, and an application to English Heritage to list the stadium as a memorial site, has caused the club to put the project back by a year.

Rovers' chairman Nick Higgs has also claimed that it has cost the club £1.5 million.

Rovers are needing to sell their ground in Horfield to the supermarket chain to fund a new 21,700-seater stadium in Frenchay.

Mr Higgs has said in a statement: "It's extremely unlikely that we would be able to complete the build of the UWE Stadium before the start of the 2015/16 season.

"This means we will probably not be able to occupy the stadium until the start of the 2016/17 season, as the Football Authorities prevent clubs from moving grounds during a season."

He added: "However, this does not mean the build will be delayed by 12 months; we still intend to get on site and start building later this year.

"It is extremely frustrating that these small minority groups have been able to have such a massive impact on this project and associated projects that will bring so many benefits to the local area."

Campaign group, TRASHorfield, has announced that they will now be drawing a close their legal bid against Sainsbury's.

A spokesperson said: "The adverse impacts of the Sainsbury’s development are indisputable and irreversible and we remain determined to do what we can to highlight and challenge these, seeking appropriate mitigation wherever possible for the damage it will inflict.

"We will endeavour to raise awareness of our campaign nationally and publicise the injustices of poor planning decisions taken with little regard for the wishes of local people.

"We will continue to keep the council on its toes with regards to the impacts of poor air quality and inadequate highways planning as Bristol moves towards becoming the UK's first Green Capital of Europe."

The application, put forward by local campaigner Jamie Carstairs to have the stadium listed as a war memorial site, was also rejected on the grounds that it did not meet the criteria for listing.