THE £9 million project to build a new community and leisure centre at Five Acres has taken a “significant step forward” with a planning application having now been submitted.
Locals are being encouraged to view and comment on plans for the first phase of the project before they are considered by the Forest Council’s Development Management Committee.
The application focuses on the delivery of dryside sport and leisure facilities through the re-purposing of the existing Speedwell building, constructing a new multi-purpose four court sports hall and performance space, party and dressing rooms and separate changing rooms.
Cabinet Member for Levelling Up at the Forest Council, Cllr Johnathan Lane (Green, Tidenham) said: “It’s great to have reached this important milestone on this project, with a planning application now submitted and available for statutory consultees and residents to view on the Council’s planning portal.
“Since taking control of the site in early 2022, the Council has worked hard with residents, businesses and partners, including demolition experts Armac, architects AHR, project and cost consultants Pick Everard and leading construction and property developer BAM to ensure that the project is built on time and is something that residents across the Forest can be proud of.
“The regeneration of Five Acres is hugely important for the local and wider community in the Forest and for ourselves here at the Council.
"When completed it will bring about life changing benefits for many residents, delivering leading sport and education facilities and returning the site to a community asset that people of the Forest can be proud of.
“With the planning application now available on the planning portal, we are demonstrating how we have listened to earlier feedback during the design process.
"We welcome the thoughts and comments of residents across the district to help us move forward together and deliver the best possible facilities for the people of the Forest of Dean.”
The council says sustainability has been a key priority throughout the design process, with carbon reducing measures such as solar panels due to be installed, and energy saving solutions incorporated such as roof insulation and timber cladding to prevent heat from escaping in winter and to help keep the buildings cool in summer.
The car park will include electric vehicle charging points, and a secure cycle hub is to be installed to assist with active travel solutions, to serve both Five Acres High School staff and students and users of the wider site.
The project is being funded by £9 million secured from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund in 2021.
Since then, the council has been in consultation with the public and design consultants Pick Everard to develop the plans, and the demolition and clearing of older buildings at the site was also carried out last year.
Construction firm and property developer BAM was chosen to develop and build the new facilities back in August.
And at full council in October, a motion was passed that the council would look into all options for the delivery of services at Five Acres, including the creation of a Community Interest Company made up of the local organisations who will use the facilities once built.
Cllr Lane added: “A development such as the one at Five Acres does take time and we’d like to thank residents for their interest and patience as this project has progressed.
“The feedback and comments that we’ve received from the community has been invaluable in shaping the designs for Five Acres and we look forward to seeing those plans come to life.
“We’ll be holding further community forum events in the future to discuss the progress of the development with Forest of Dean residents, as well as working with BAM to ensure local businesses and sub-contractors have the opportunity to compete for various work packages to develop this fantastic community facility.”
Details for the planning application can be found on the Forest of Dean planning portal, by searching reference number ‘P1435_23_FUL’ at www.publicaccess.fdean.gov.uk/online-applications.
Full details for the Five Acres site redevelopment, as well as documents including designs and comments and questions from previous public forum events can be found at www.fdean.gov.uk/planning-and-building/regeneration/five-acres-redevelopment-site.