Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

HorseWorld fails to convince

HorseWorld's bid to build 125 houses - and a very big visitor centre - on green belt land at Whitchurch village was roundly rejected by BaNES development Control Committee today.

The ailing charity had claimed that it must have the revenue from selling off its current visitor centre for housing if it was to survive. It's Big Idea was to use the development cash to build a bigger better visitor centre. With similar amenities as the old centre, but a bigger shop and and a bigger cafe and (wait for it) a new 250-seater Indoor Arena, it could up the visitor numbers by a third, and get them to stay longer, while paying more per admission, and spending more in the shop and in the cafe. Problem solved.

The BaNES councillors weren't persuaded. The business plan didn't convince them. They didn't like being told that only 10% of the houses could be 'affordable'. The traffic figures suggested much more congestion in an already congested area. The schools didn't have the capacity. An hourly bus diverted to pass the site (except evenings and Sundays) wouldn't make anyone abandon their cars. And the new visitor centre would be a blot on the landscape. All in all, there were no 'very special circumstances' that might make it ok to permanently build over the Green Belt.

The scheme's not dead though. BaNES themselves are looking at releasing local Green Belt for development to meet their housing targets. A proposal's just been floated to release a chunk of HorseWorld land and neighbouring fields for 200 homes. If that's agreed in the Core Strategy, HorseWorld will be back. And if BaNES nominate other space for new homes, the developers will be queueing.

Hoofnote: 1st Dec.

A curious feature of HorseWorld's application to build 125 houses on the greenbelt with a minimum of 'affordable' dwellings among them was the announcement to the BaNES planning committee that Bristol had withdrawn its objection.

Not so. It's true that Bristol's LibDem leader Tim Kent had been lobbied beforehand by HorseWorld chief Mark Owen, who told him that without the planning permission the ailing charity would go belly up. And it's true that Tim, in turn, had lobbied the other south Bristol councilors asking for their support in getting the Bristol objection withdrawn. And it's true that Bristol did put in a surprise 11th hour 'comment' to BaNES about the application.

But it didn't withdraw the objection. The secretive attempt by Tim (and any henchpersons who might have been equally worried that they might be portrayed as 'cruel to horses') to overturn the case made by their own officers didn't withdraw anything, even though the BaNES officers tried to make it look that way.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A Little Bit Faster. A Whole Lot Worse

Mayor George is busy creating, not to mention advertising,  a thousand 'Calmer Crescents' with the roll-out of 20mph limits on the city's residential streets.

But not in King Georges Road.

That doesn't get the mayoral treatment, it gets an appropriately royal going over from the West of England Partnership, egged on by the motoring and business lobbies. The Madness of King Georges Road .

Today it provides a path for around 500 vehicles a day – and it rarely, if ever, sees a juggernaut. But as soon as the South Bristol Link opens, everything changes – ten thousand 'car equivalents' will pass these front doors each day.

Perhaps a few will come from local businesses, rerouted from current journeys down Hartcliffe Way or along Airport Road. But by far the majority will be the traffic that already flows – or inches from standstill to standstill - along Airport Road, heading for the A38 or for the Cumberland Basin and the M5 at Avonmouth.

They'll save a few seconds too – unless the road is a victim of its own 'success' and attracts enough new traffic to cancel out even that small benefit for the driving public. As tends to happen in real life.

A little bit faster?   A Whole Lot Worse

[The Planning Application for the South Bristol section of the Link is expected to be held on Wednesday27th November at City Hall (6pm).   More on the 'NO to the South Bristol Link Road' pages]