Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Stocktaking Time for Sainsburys

The latest plans for a Megastore at Ashton Gate, even with the advantage of being treated as an enabling development for a new green belt stadium, have taken another blow.

This time it's the council appointed independent retail consultants, GVA Grimley, who are advising their clients (us) that Sainsburys claims' for retail impact are specious. They conclude:

"It the Council reaches the view that there are one or more significant adverse impacts, then the application should be refused under Policy EC17.1 of PPS4, with no need to take into account any of the other material planning considerations surrounding the scheme."
" is our view  that the negative impacts of the proposal outweigh any positive benefits which may accrue. In reaching this view we have given particular weight to the financial impact of the proposal and its adverse effect upon the vitality and viability of both defined centres in Bedminster. We recommend that this conclusion is taken in account by the Council as it considers and balances the positive and negative impacts of the proposal as a whole."

Add to that the very persuasive evidence that their claims of job creation are fictitious, that their transport predictions are nonsense and a few other exploded myths, and it's hard to see how the planning application (to be considered on March 2nd, 6pm) can possibly succeed.

Far more likely that Sainsburys will drop this latest application and go back to appealing against the same committee turning down their previous application. Although, of course, they claim that the current scheme is better than the previous one - and that must mean that the previous one was worse than the current one.

Either way, the whole stadium project is a mess. I know Sainsburys don't give up easily - for years they've been pouring money into Southend United to keep it solvent, given the security of its big assets - the Roots Hall ground where they want an Ashton Gate megastore equivalent, and land with planning permission for an out of town retail park to boot.

Still, I can't see myself getting the opportunity to pedal off down a new South Bristol Ring Road Cyclepath to Ashton Vale to watch the match or to pick up Nectar points and orange bags. Which is probably a Good Thing.

1 comment:

Interested said...

I don't know why my post on the transport interchange seemed to be temporarily lost in cyberspace. It seemed to be accepted when I submitted it but had gone when I came back, then you somehow later retrieved it. Let's see what happens to this one.

Looks as though Sainsbury's has jumped a major hurdle this week; all depends now on Eric deciding whether to have a go at overriding the councillor's decision or whether he will figuratively give them the money and stand aside.

Except it doesn't, quite. The Town Greeners may yet come in from the side and scupper the whole football ground and Sainsbury's plans.

The city council is desperate not to designate the area a town green but the Public Rights of Way and Greens Committee may find they have no choice if arbitration fails (it seems it has) and the councillors have to (reluctantly?) finally decide.

There is no doubt that as a major city Bristol lacks facilities taken for granted in similar-sized towns and cities and even in smaller ones.

A major sports stadium, an arena and modern conference hall are just three examples. Unlike, say Cardiff, that has public money thrown at it for all sorts of sporting and cultural venues, Bristol is deemed too prosperous to need such public gravy train handouts and is largely left to fend for itself.

It is therefore ironic when a rich person comes along and is willing to stump up a lot of cash to provide a much-needed (in the opinion of many though not all citizens) major sports stadium that the path is strewn with so many obstacles.

And yet a fair-minded, neutral individual can understand the worries and objections of those who don't want the stadium or the giant supermarket - it seems the one cannot proceed without the other.

So it comes down to quite a simple conundrum: should the wishes of those who want a spanking new stadium be overriden by whose who don't and who don't want the supermarket either (for the most part the same group), or vice versa?

Some say that a way out is to rebuild the existing Bristol City football ground but that apparently will not generate sufficient off-field revenue streams to sustain a Premier League side which a city the size of Bristol should really have as a matter of course.

I'm glad I haven't got to decide. I don't know which way I would vote. Fences are quite comfortable places, aren't they?