FOREST Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince says he will appeal against Stroud District Council's decision to deny the club planning permission for a new stadium.

On Wednesday evening the council's development control committee voted to reject the application – submitted by Mr Vince's energy firm, Ecotricity – for a 5,000-seater wooden stadium on fields off junction 13 of the M5, near Eastington.

Seven councillors on the committee voted to reject the Eco Park proposal, going against the planning officer's recommendation to approve the application, while four supported the scheme.

On Friday, Mr Vince posted a 600-word statement via his Facebook profile expressing his incredulity at the committee's decision.

Pledging to fight its “ridiculous” decision and to “give the council a second chance,” Vince called the conduct of the committee “as shocking as the result,” before adding that he would be both lodging an appeal and resubmitting his application.

Mr Vince released a statement saying: “After four years of intensive work on this application, having gained the green light from all of the experts engaged in all areas of the project, and with the clear recommendation of the council – seeing this turned down, for what looks like local political issues, is very disappointing.”

At the committee meeting, the councillors heard that Eco Park was proposed for a location which was not earmarked for building on in SDC's Local Development Plan of 2016.

The development would “a complete intrusion into the countryside,” said Cllr John Jones, and go against “the basic principles of our Local Development Plan.”

Councillor Haydn Jones, who also voted against the proposal, was quick to reiterate that the vote was not against Mr Vince or his “admirable ambition” and the stadium’s “outstanding design,” but his choice of location. Cllr Jones raised his concerns as to traffic, noise and lack of community provision for the neighbouring communities of Eastington, Stonehouse and William Morris College.

Cllr Jones also mentioned the very real possibility of 'fly parking' with Rovers fans avoiding the £7 parking fees at Eco Park by leaving their vehicles outside of the grounds, which could hinder local residents.

In response, planning officers stated that the social and sustainable benefits of the project would, in their opinion, outweigh the departure from the Local Plan. “It will have a less than substantial impact, which is outweighed by the public benefit to the scheme,” said officer John Chaplin.

Mr Chaplin sought to assuage the councillors’ particular concerns on noise, citing the findings of a specialist noise consultant, instructed by the applicant, which stated that noise will be at an “appropriate level.” Likewise, he said that while the stadium would be “visible,” “it is unlikely to be prominent” and would not cause “significant harm” to a nearby nature reserve.

Planning manager Geraldine Le Cointe further commented that neither the Local Plan nor Neighbourhood Development Plan was created with proposals of such scale in mind, and as such, it was the “world-class” design of the stadium which was fundamental to the decision to recommend approving Eco Park.

Graham Barton, the chair of trustees at William Morris College for pupils with special needs, in Chipmans Platt, Eastington, spoke against the plans at the meeting due to the impact that noise from football matches would have on students.

He said: “One has to ask, what public benefit? Not everyone likes football or Forest Green Rovers. To co-exist we need to maintain a peaceful campus. How are we expected to undergo noise of up to 70 decibels for up to five hours at a time? What about our noise sensitive students? We will be expected to keep them indoors or take them off-campus for every home game. It is an outrageous ask.”

The leader of Stroud District Council, Cllr Doina Cornell, who is not on the development control committee, said she was disappointed that Eco Park was rejected.

“I think it’s important to see the bigger picture," she said. "The new development would have contributed to the whole district in so many ways.”

Development manager John Longmuir pointed out during the committee meeting that the building of Forest Green Rovers' current home, New Lawn, in 2005 to 2006, was also contrary to the Local Plan at the time and yet it still went ahead.

Mr Vince has told the SNJ that Forest Green needs a new home in order to grow as a club and attract more than the current average attendance of around 2,700 fans per game.

The Eco Park plans included a club shop, food and drink facilities, a fitness suite for FGR, two training pitches and 1,700 parking spaces for cars, coaches and bicycles.

Improving the A419 from Junction 13 of the M5 to Chipmans Platt roundabout is also proposed, and this would see new traffic lights to the site, a pedestrian and cycle crossing, and a combined footway/cycleway linking to the cycle route at Grove Lane.