The BCC Planning Committee is to make a decision on the GCCC development plans at a meeting on Wednesday 11th January at 6pm at the Council House. In the light of this imminent decision, it is very worrying to read the  latest news from the 'Howzat?' capaign.

The latest 'Howzat?' newsletter details the GCCC shortfall in funds for the planned development. The full text can be read below. 

And on the basis of this information the Bishopston Society has now made the following statement which it has submitted to the Planning Committee:

 GCCC PLANNING APPLICATION

Further to our earlier objections to this application, The Bishopston Society would like to submit the additional considerations which are relevant to this application:

Firstly, whilst it is right to promote appropriate development in order to make best and most sustainable use of available land, it is completely wrong to grant permission for any development which is considered to be excessive simply because it is subsidising community facilities. In this case, the application for 150 flats in three blocks up to 6 storeys high is clearly excessive and detrimental to the Conservation Area and would not be given planning in the normal course of events were it not that it was enabling development for the upgrading of the cricket ground.  
 
To compound our concerns, it now appears that the club is unable to make the normal S106 contributions (independently assessed at £4.4m) and claims to still be £2m short of the funds required to make the planned improvements to the stadium.  How could this considerable subsidy from Bristol City Council be justified at a time of such financial constraint?  What guarantees can be given that the improvements to the stadium will actually be made before permission is given to build the flats?  The worst possible outcome for the community would be to have the area disfigured by the proposed development, hugely subsidised by the local ratepayer, only for the enhancements to the club not to materialise.
 
We firmly recommend REFUSAL.

 

Text of the 'Howzat?' newsletter:

Dear HowZat? Supporter

You probably know that the Planning Committee will decide on the GCCC development plans at a meeting on Wednesday 11th January at 6pm at the Council House.

The Officer's Report has been updated with some new information on the financial viability of the plans and can be viewed at
http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/files/5417328486AD90108FB427831D4E2BDF/pdf/11_02609_F-COMMITTEE_REPORT_11_JANUARY_2012-819896.pdf


The Council also commissioned an independent review of the financial viability of the GCCC's plans which makes interesting reading and can be found at
http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/files/1C1B97E290B76AAA8A8DA3F9C5DDEB2F/pdf/11_02609_F-BCC_S_CONSULTANTS_RESPONSE_TO_VIABILITY_APPRAISAL-820874.pdf

The Planning Officer's Report admits it is a finely balanced case, although it still recommends approval of the multistorey block of flats, despite the acknowledged harmful impact on the surrounding area.

So there is still all to fight for on Wednesday, and we feel we should draw your attention to the following in the 2 documents above:

The GCCC and Linden Homes, despite planning to erect a highly unattractive 7 storey block of flats to fund the ground development, will not be able to afford most of the usual contributions to the Council and the community.

These are:
•    Affordable housing - usually a development of this size would have 58 flats set aside for this
•    Contributions to offset the cost which the residents of the flats will place on the Council in terms of the need for extra school places, new health facilities, recreational and library facilities - these amount to almost £1 million
•    Carbon reduction measures to meet the Council's own targets - an estimated £390,000 is needed to achieve these

The independent expert estimates that these measures total £4.4 million pounds - a shortfall which the GCCC cannot afford to pay. So the Committee will be asked to forgo these contributions and approve the application, effectively providing the GCCC with a massive public subsidy at a time of austerity and spending cuts.

In addition the independent report concludes that the proposed development, including 7,500 seats, will still leave a £2 million funding gap for the GCCC to fill.  Our concern is that the enabling development of blocks of flats may get built while the Cricket Ground development is not fully realised and One Day International status NOT safeguarded, leaving local residents with the worst of both worlds!

The planners say that they will put in a phasing agreement to tie Linden Homes and the development of the Cricket Ground together, so that the flats cannot be completed unless the stadium is fully built.

However, if the GCCC run out of money we cannot see that a half built, unoccupied block of flats would be left to fester on our doorstep. We believe that the Council would seek to waive Planning Conditions in order for it to be completed.

If you are concerned by the information in this email please:
•    Send another email to the planners expressing your opposition to these aspects of the development (by noon on 10th January)
•    Ask anyone you know who has not yet objected to do so
•    Come and support us at the meeting
•    Consider making a written statement to the Planning Committee (by noon on 10th January)
See www.howzatgccc.org.uk for links to emailing the planners or making a written statement which will be read by Councillors on the Planning Committee.
Many Thanks
HowZat? Residents' Group

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