This is a copy of the Bishopston Society's letter to the Planning department:
We have studied the information submitted as a detailed planning application and are opposed to the application for the following reasons:
1. Whilst the current proposals are an improvement over the previous permission for the site, we do have concerns about certain aspects of the scheme including the effect of the proposed works on Filton Avenue and the impact of almost constant traffic and deliveries to the site on both the new residents and the immediate neighbourhood
2. The bulk of the supermarket has tended to squeeze the new housing and Homezone to the very edge of the site, softened by only a narrow strip of shared space (used by residential cars to circulate) and limited planting. This begs the question of how satisfactory a living environment the new single aspect houses and flats will provide.
3. The architectural design is of disappointing quality and the proposals lack any convincing character and link with the surrounding area. The design seems to have lost a lot since the initial bird’s eye sketches were prepared. These sketches implied that the supermarket entrance was something unusual and dynamic, whereas it now looks very standard. Furthermore, they showed the housing around the supermarket as being fairly gamey with gabled off-shots in coloured render which would relate the houses to their surroundings, whereas the housing now can at best be described as severe/featureless in red brick and with absolutely no sympathy with its surroundings. The artist's view looking from Alton Road appears to have been designed without knowledge of the character and materials of Alton Road, with its painted colour render and its rhythm of bay windows, whilst the Homezone view PO 63 looks for all the world like 1980’s council housing, with its severe treatment and lack of any rhythm or obvious dialogue with its surroundings. The supermarket itself when exposed on the car park elevation is a dull portal frame affair, which again is not what was implied at the sketch design stage. The commercial block, whilst handsome in its own right, serves as a very bland backdrop to the Memorial Square, which itself seems a very neutral space with no obvious strong character.
4. However, our main concern with this application is the size of the store proposed and its inevitable negative impact on the independent traders on the Gloucester Road. The store will be the largest supermarket in North Bristol if it is allowed to proceed, even larger than Tesco Eastville which is located on a motorway junction and still causes significant congestion. The local area and its highway network is wholly inadequate for such a large supermarket and it will cause extensive congestion and pollution in what is already a traffic hot spot. The recent retail analysis has estimated that the supermarket will take £7.7m in turnover from the Gloucester Road, approximately 12% of the total. This will almost certainly have a very negative impact on the independent traders on the Gloucester Road and will cause some shops to close. The Gloucester Road has been lauded in the national press as ‘the last High Street in England’ and is only just surviving in the current economic downturn. The idea that shoppers visiting the new supermarket will be able to use local shops is not true, because the supermarket is not within easy walking distance of the shops and either way, with its proposed 60% food and 40% non-food, will render many local shops obsolete.
The Bishopston Society has real concerns about the negative impact of the new supermarket on the existing trading environment of the Gloucester Road. Furthermore, we also consider that the football club’s threat to activate its 2008 permission if the new supermarket is refused planning permission is unrealistic as the current economic climate and the current root and branch review of Higher Education mean that the hotel and the student accommodation are not currently feasible.
We strongly recommend refusal.