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Plans for the biggest stadium and concert venue in The West have taken a huge hit after a independent inspector recommended the site in Bristol should be given town and village green status.
That means nothing could be built on the 42 acres at Ashton Vale. The city council say they are shocked and disappointed at the move. Although they will have the final say on whether town green status is approved, they can only object on legal grounds.
Councilor Simon Cook, deputy leader of the council and executive member for culture, sport and capital projects said "I am shocked and disappointed at the independent inspector's conclusion. Although I respect the fact that she has found their is a case for awarding a village green, designating the whole 42 acres in question seems utterly unreasonable. The new stadium, a possible arena, redevelopment of Ashton Gate and Bristol's World Cup 2018 host city status are at serious risk. This amounts to £150m worth of investment with at least 1 thousand extra full and part time jobs. Losing the world cup as well would do serious damage to the regeneration of South Bristol and would damage the reputation of the city. The law behind this application for town green status is a nonsense, but I am utterly determined to find a way through it.'
The news is a big blow for Bristol City Football club as well, they see a new stadium as key to their ambitions of bringing Premiership football to the South West.
City chief executive Colin Sexstone said "We are naturally disappointed to hear about the report. However, it is only once Bristol City Council has formulated its own recommendation that we will be able to assess what the future holds for the stadium project.
"We always knew that prizes on the scale of a new regional stadium and a World Cup were never going to fall into our lap - the most ambitious and visionary projects never do - but we remain utterly determined to get there.
"Bristol City Council assures us that it is doing everything in its power to find a way forward on this, and until it makes its decision, it's business as usual for us. The Council wants to see a new regional stadium on this site as much as we do, and we have every confidence that we can achieve that goal together.
"Moreover, Bristol City Council accepts that the report has far wider implications than just the stadium and thus it is essential that there is a hasty resolution to the matter. Registering a 42-acre development site as a Town and Village Green will have a major effect on the whole of South Bristol as it is likely to completely stifle any future investment and employment opportunities.
"Current TVG legislation is wide open to abuse of this type and we believe that this is a prime example of where the existing process is being used to stop much needed development and valuable private sector investment"
The Green Party in Bristol have welcomed the independent inspectors recommendation, Cllr Tess Green said "We've got nothing against a new stadium but this was in the wrong place and came with so much unwelcome baggage that the real cost to Bristol and its residents was far too high. Today's decision rescues a well-used open space from being sacrificed to a hotel, fast food outlet and stadium, it may well mean that allotment land at Moorelands is not lost, and the club will stay - at least for the time being - at its Ashton Gate home,saving Southville from the threat of Sainsburys huge retail shed.That's three big pluses to set against the setback for the stadium. We wish the club and its fans well in whatever efforts they make to find better ways to modernise - but it must not be at the expense of the city of Bristol."