Council officers recommend approval of MS Therapy Centre plans

MS Therapy Centre - North Elevation

Officials at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) have recommended that plans for the construction of a new Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre on land off Bradley Stoke Way be given the green light.

The Moonstone Appeal wants to build the centre as a replacement for the existing West of England MS Therapy Centre in Nailsea, which it claims is poorly located and has become insufficient and sub-standard with no scope for expansion.

Planning approval for an earlier application was granted in June 2007 but “planning and funding difficulties” since then meant that the project as originally conceived never came to fruition.

A new planning application was lodged in June 2009, in which the charity said that it had managed to reduce the costs of developing the centre by allowing a “compatible charity or similar function” to operate from surplus land on the site.

The latest plans say that construction of the centre will take place in two phases, with phase one needing to start by Spring 2010, in order to satisfy the conditions of already-secured funding.

SGC originally set a deadline of 30th July for public consultation on the plans, but this has now been extended to 17th September, presumably because the applicants have submitted additional information since the original deadline.

The Governors of Wheatfield Primary School and three residents of Wheatfield Drive registered concerns over the plans before the original July deadline.

Residents were worried about the loss of a protected hedge, light and noise pollution, vandalism and traffic congestion, while Governors listed eight “observations and requests for further clarification” and said that they could not support the application [at the current time].

One resident claimed that the diversion of an underground oil pipeline, said to be necessary in order to construct a new access road off Bradley Stoke Way, would cost between £150k and £200k and doubted whether the applicants had taken this aspect into consideration.

After analysing the objections and concerns of residents and Governors, planning officials have decided that they do not constitute sufficient grounds for refusing the application. They say that only a “thin strip” of hedgerow will be removed and that “there would not be an unacceptable amount of light affecting the adjacent dwellings”.

Esso Pipeline

Officials add that any necessary diversion of the oil pipeline is a matter between the applicant and Esso (the pipeline owners). This issue of whether this might make the development unviable is “for the applicant to consider” and should not influence the granting of planning permission.

Conditions attached to the recommended decision require all construction access to take place from Bradley Stoke Way rather than Wheatfield Drive.

SGC Councillors have been given until 17th September to decide if they would like to “call in” the application for discussion at a meeting of the Planning Committee.

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