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BRISTOL: 47 affordable homes approved

BRISTOL: 47 affordable homes approved

Image: Curo Group, free to use by all partners

Almost 50 new affordable homes have been granted planning permission in south Bristol despite dozens of objections.

Councillors approved Curo housing association’s proposals for 47 properties on green land behind the Broad Plain House social club, opposite the police station in Knowle West.

But there were 96 objections – a figure residents say was actually 150 – including from Sport England because of the loss of a disused playing field and multi-use games area (MUGA), neither of which are being replaced because the site is allocated in the local plan only for housing, not community facilities.

One neighbour said the area had become “an El Dorado for ruthless developers” and criticised the scheme’s parking and traffic measures as “almost childishly stupid and dangerous”.

Bristol City Council development control committee agreed with officers’ recommendation to grant consent by 3-2 votes, with two abstentions, which drew shouts of disapproval from members of the public at the City Hall meeting.

Broad Plain House in Broadbury Road will be partially demolished but the adjoining social club will remain, members heard.

The 47 homes will comprise 22 flats in three-storey “gateway” buildings and 25 two-storey houses either side of a new road running through the middle of the site, with 31 homes being shared ownership, 11 for social rent and five classed as affordable rent.

Most of the objections related to traffic and parking, loss of green space and community facilities, overshadowing and overbearing, drainage, and the impact on wildlife, with officers saying there would be an “overall biodiversity net loss” but it was considered acceptable.

A report to the committee on Wednesday, October 13. said the council’s playing pitch strategy confirmed there were enough playing fields and marked football pitches in the city and that the green space was not ideal for sports use.

“On that basis it would be unreasonable to request the retention of the playing field and MUGA or request alternative provision,” it said.

Officers raised concerns with the developers about the large amount of hardstanding and car parking but the design did not change and was not deemed to be unacceptable.

Cllr Fabian Breckels said he was concerned about the number of objections, drainage issues, impact on ecology, the developer’s “failure” to engage better with the community and the loss of facilities.

He said: “It seems to be all take – taking from a community and putting in housing rather than giving them anything in return.”

Cllr Breckels said 100 per cent affordable homes meant no community infrastructure levy (CIL) money to replace the lost facilities.

“It is more houses and less facilities which could add pressure to an area and possibly tip the balance the wrong way,” he said.

Head of development Gary Collins said: “The pre-application consultation process undertaken was adequate.

“It isn’t best in class, it’s just about good enough, really. This applies across the whole city rather than a different approach taken here.

“The key thing to remember is that this is an allocated site in the development plan.

“As a result, the loss of the playing fields that haven’t been used for a number of years and the loss of the facilities was factored into that allocation, which was consulted on and adopted at full council

“It’s part of a wider strategy for the area as well. It’s the loss of a green space but it’s a green space that is allocated for development and there are similar facilities nearby in active use.”

Cllr Katja Hornchen said: “We need social housing but I’m very disappointed it’s such an old-fashioned design with tiny backyards which is bad for biodiversity and for children and play – children will be siloed into back gardens.

“It’s more housing but not better housing.”

Cllr Andrew Brown said he liked the design with the gardens behind the houses because it matched the surrounding area.

Cllr Richard Eddy said: “I am overjoyed that Curo is proposing 47 affordable homes which is far better than any market housing here and will help us address Bristol’s housing crisis.”

Cllr Ani Stafford-Townsend, who chairs the committee, said: “This is quite a disappointing development. I can’t support this.

“We need more housing but not to the detriment of other things like green spaces.”

Mick Fleming, of Broadbury Road, told members the development filled him with a “mixture of anger and disbelief”.

He said: “The transport proposals are almost childishly stupid and dangerous. There is already a parking problem. The drainage plans are a worry.

“Knowle West seems to have become an El Dorado for ruthless developers.

“This development doesn’t help with any of Knowle West’s problems, it just exacerbates them.

“There is absolutely nothing right with this development.”

In a written statement to the committee, Curo Group development project manager Serafina Collier said: “The proposed buildings are well-articulated, suitably designed and of an appropriate scale.

“The public open space provides a focal point within the centre of the development that significantly enhances the character of the scheme, and the proposals are in keeping with the character and appearance of the wider area.”

She said the site’s configuration made the amount of hardstanding “unavoidable”.

Words: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter


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