Bristol Rovers Frenchay move: Delay 'to cost club £1m'

Bristol Rovers proposed new stadium from above
Image caption Bristol Rovers Football Club wants to move to a new 21,700-seat stadium in Frenchay

The chairman of Bristol Rovers FC is claiming the club will lose £1m if plans to build a supermarket at its ground go to a judicial review.

The club says it needs to sell its ground to Sainsbury's to fund a move to a 21,700-seat stadium in Frenchay.

Nick Higgs said an "endless pit of legal fees and delays" could mean some parts of the plan being mothballed.

But protesters want a judicial review over how the city council granted planning permission for the store.

'Larger than Tesco'

Trashorfield Ltd (Traders and Residents Against Sainsbury's Horfield) said it was against a "goliath supermarket" in a residential area.

Spokeswoman Diana Scrafton said there were already 14 supermarkets within a three-mile radius and another was "not needed".

She said the average gate at the club meant some 6,500 people travelling to the site every fortnight - and a similar number could visit the site every day.

She said: "[The development is] going to be larger than Tesco at Eastgate which means you're looking at two-million plus shoppers a year.

"If you divide that up it is some 5,500 cars a day on the Memorial site concentrating on a pretty narrow road."

In January, councillors gave permission for the club's current home to be turned into a Sainsbury's supermarket.

Bristol City Council was later served with a formal notice of intent for judicial review of that decision.

Mr Higgs said the delay meant no work could be started at the Frenchay site and that this was costing the club money.

"This application for a judicial review... appears to be a smokescreen for the anti-supermarket campaign... and no consideration for the benefits for the Bristol community," Mr Higgs said.

'Further costs'

"In addition to the Memorial Stadium development there's over £200m of investment being held up while this is being resolved.

"The legal costs for this judicial review are reported to be in the order of £100,000 and delays for the football club could be as much as £1m.

"It won't mean the stadium won't get built but some of the facilities in the stadium may be temporarily mothballed," Mr Higgs added.

A Bristol City Council spokesman said the council did not accept that the grounds of challenge for the proposed judicial review were "well founded and it will continue to oppose the application".

"It is hoped that the application will not be successful, so saving taxpayers the further costs associated with court proceedings," he added.

The Bristol North West MP, Charlotte Leslie, said: "The point is you've got a group of people who don't want a Sainsbury's near them who are holding up something that's magnificent for the city.

"It's very unlikely they're going to stop it, only delay it. It's going to cost the taxpayer a lot of money."

In a statement the supermarket giant said it hoped the matter could be resolved as soon as possible.

"Sainsbury's is obviously disappointed that, so late in the day, a legal challenge has been made against Bristol City Council following the decision in January to grant planning permission for a Sainsbury's at the Memorial Stadium."

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