The English Football League has given the green light for Zaha Hadid Architects to build the world’s first all-timber football stadium

Last week the governing body approved proposals by environmentally conscious and ‘100 per cent vegan’ Gloucestershire football club Forest Green Rovers to move into the 5,000-seat, wooden ground.

Speaking to Sky Sports, its chair Dale Vince said: ‘From an environment point of view, 75 per cent of the carbon footprint of all stadia in their entire lifetime comes from the materials they’re made from. It’s not about the energy used to run them, it’s embedded on day one.’

Vince, a ‘green energy industrialist’ who owns green energy firm Ecotricity, added: ‘We’ll have the lowest carbon footprint of any stadium anywhere in the world since the Romans invented concrete.’

The EFL’s decision marks the latest milestone in the league two club’s long-running bid to build a new stadium.

Zaha Hadid Architects won a competition in 2016 to design a sustainable home for the side, which is the world’s first UN-certified carbon-neutral football club.

In June 2019, Stroud District Council’s planning committee refused the plans – which also include a neighbouring business park – citing noise, traffic and impact on the environment. The proposals were subsequently altered.

Changes included swapping one grass pitch to an all-weather pitch with access for local clubs, a revised landscaping strategy, increased matchday transport and clarifications regarding noise.

The reworked plans were subsequently waved through by the same planning committee later that year.

Forest Green Rovers, formerly known as Stroud FC, has been based at the New Lawn stadium in Nailsworth since 2006.

Following Vince’s acquisition of the club in 2010, the venue received a flurry of green upgrades including solar panels, a solar-powered robot grass mower and the world’s first organic football pitch.

Choosing Zaha Hadid Architects’ proposals more than four years ago, Dale said: ‘The really standout thing about this stadium is that it’s going to be entirely made of wood – the first time that will have been done anywhere in the world.

‘The importance of using wood is not only that it’s a naturally occurring material, it has very low carbon content – about as low as it gets for a building material.’

In terms of timescale, Vince told Sky Sports last week: ‘We’re probably three or four years away from playing our first game in that stadium; there’s a lot of work to be done. We need a new road, there’s a business park attached to it … but that’s the place [where] we hope to become and stay a Championship football club.’

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  • Posted on 2021/03/15
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