MS therapy centre planning application goes to appeal after Council fails to decide

MS Therapy Centre Site

A controversial planning application for the construction of a respite care centre on land off Wheatfield Drive has gone to appeal after South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) failed to determine the case within the required eight week period.

The application, registered with SGC on 26th February, angered local residents and Town Councillors because it altered access arrangements established in an earlier application for an MS therapy centre on the same site.

That earlier application, decided in November 2009, stated that access to the site would be from Bradley Stoke Way rather than Wheatfield Drive.

Esso Pipeline

The applicant, Perpetual Legacy acting on behalf of the Moonstone Appeal, now says that the presence of an underground oil pipleine running along the edge of Bradley Stoke Way makes access from that side of the site “unviable”.

The u-turn resulted in 23 objections being lodged against the latest application, including one from Bradley Stoke Town Council saying that access from Wheatfield Drive would “result in an unacceptable increase in traffic movement through this already congested area”.

With SGC failing to make a decision on the case by its target date of 23rd April, the applicant has now submitted an appeal (on 30th April) to the Planning Inspectorate on the grounds of “non determination”.

It has urged the Inspectorate to make a decision within its nominal 16-week timescale so that planning approval, if granted, can be obtained by September, which it says is a condition of grant funding.

The case summary page [ref: APP/P0119/A/10/2128164] on the Planning Inspectorate website states that statements and representations must be made before 24th June with a cut-off of 15th July for final comments.

The Journal has so far been unable to obtain an official statement from SGC regarding the reasons for the Council failing to decide the case. We were promised a statement by Wednesday last week but nothing was forthcoming by Friday.

In a bizarre twist, the case appeared on SGC’s Circulated Schedule last Thursday (13th May), with a recommendation from planning officers that the application be approved. However, the advice is preceded by the following rider:

“The Local Planning Authority can no longer determine this application and as such a formal decision cannot be issued by South Gloucestershire Council. The following report sets out the officer assessment and recommendation as it would have been had the application not been appealed.”

Conservative South Gloucestershire Councillors for Bradley Stoke (Brian Hopkinson, Sarah Pomfret, John Ashe and Robert Jones) issued the following statement to The Journal on Friday (14th May):

“Although this would be a worthwhile facility, a number of residents have expressed concerns about the application, particularly the issue of access.”

“We understand that the applicant has appealed on the grounds that a decision on their first application by South Gloucestershire Council has not been reached quick[ly] enough and that a second identical application has now been registered today by the council’s planning department and which will be subject to the same eight week target for determination.”

“We hope that efforts will be made by the applicant to allay the concerns held by residents.”

In the meantime, the Moonstone Appeal’s chairman Michael Gelder has pleaded with those opposing the application to “think of the benefits to those who are really suffering from this dreadful illness [MS]”, according to a recent article on the BBC Bristol website.

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  1. Just to be clear: as this article is slightly disingenuous. The BBC approached the Moonstone Appeal after we spotted the same planning documentation that you did. The suggestion that the Moonstone Appeal launched a “charm offensive” is incorrect.

    Hope that helps clear things up.


  2. It would be a shame if this project didn’t go ahead. I think it is quite selfish that some residents of Wheatfield Drive are complaining. I am sure if they had a member of their family suffering from MS they would feel differently.

    I would be more than happy if they built an MS therapy centre next to my house if it meant many people in the surround area could benefit from it.

  3. Since when has traffic congestion been a priority of either Bradley Stoke or South Glos councils?

    The claim that it would “result in an unacceptable increase in traffic movement through this already congested area” is a barefaced lie when compared to the unfettered building work around this area that has resulted in massive traffic jams around Aztec West at rush hour. Who allowed it to become congested in the first place? Oh, the very same people who are now blocking a vital project, one we in BS should be proud to have.

    But then again these same officials who have forgotten that they are here to serve the electorate then leave the traffic lights on for 24 hours a day so allowing traffic to build up and increase pollution due to stationary vehicles when a simple fix would be to switch them off outside peak hours.

    It really does make you wonder about some of these people and where their priorities lie.

  4. Well is clear none of the above live in Wheatfeild drive as they would already know that we are prisoners in our own homes while the school traffic is parked outside our houses and driveways and as for the MoonstoneAppeal and there “charm offensive” do you know there are canvasing local companys for support
    Also the people who complained about the entrance live in a cul de sac why should they now live in a entrance to more traffic conjestion as visitors are bound to park outside there propertys as no doubt the will not be enougth parking onsite as has anyone cosidered the delivery vehicles and other hgvs that will no doubt deliver to the site

  5. Totally agree with you John. I live in Wheatfield and its a nightmare at school drop off and pick up time, you can hardly get a car around without having to stop, reverse, look for a gap to let people past, really is a nightmare, and with this its only going to be increasing the traffic, but not just a certain times like the school but steadily throughout the day. And what about the kids who play around Wheatfield, they should be safe to play down a private road like Wheatfield, but if this goes ahead they will have to be even more careful than they already are, its not very fair on them or anyone down this road. BTW i am one of those 23 residents who objected, im surprised there wasn’t more.

  6. Well I am sure that land will eventually get developed on. I would rather have an MS therapy centre on my door step than more houses or even worse a block of flats. At least after the centre closes at night the cars will leave, having a new block of flats or houses there will be more cars in your already congested street.

  7. I was involved when the original application was put in sometime ago and after various meetings with local residents and planning officers the access via Bradley Stoke Way was agreed.
    Everyone I spoke to was supportive of the centre in principal, but concerned for the extra traffic generated by the centre, not just after it was open, but also during the construction period. Wheatfield Drive as mentioned above is heavily congested at certain times of the day and to add even more traffic would be ludicrous.
    The whole reason this application has been received is the cost that the company will incur to move the pipeline and cables that run underneath the grass verge. Surely the point here is not a “one off cost” of getting access to the site, but a question of quality of life for the residents of Wheatfiled Drive for the rest of their lives.

    The land has always (since 1986) been earmarked for “Social Services” use so the likelihood of flats being built there is pretty remote.

    I’m also concerned why the Council has taken so long to deal with this application. I spoke to one of the local councillors for Wheatfield Drive a month ago and he told me he would be “calling in” the application. It now appears this was not done.

    Cllr Jon Williams

  8. The duplicate application mentioned in the Councillors’ statement has now appeared on the SGC website: PT10/1053/F

    The consultation period runs until 4th June 2010 and the target date for a decision is 9th July 2010.

  9. Mike i think you will find that this site is a 24 hour operation as people will be staying on site as we said more traffic
    Luke prephaps if the people of Wheatfeild drive were given more information than we have had abot the new proposal instead of the lack of information we have had more people would be on your side you can now say you are 25 as myself and my partner were not aware of the change until a few weeks ago prehaps someone should canvas all the residents to ask the opinion of the new situation as my neighbours were not aware THEY ARE NOW

  10. Maybe to alleviate the deadlock, the council might consider funding or part-funding the moving of the gas pipe and cables, allowing the entrance off Bradley Stoke Way to beused again. Surely this would come under the remit of social services provision in South Gloucestershire?

    It would seem a terrible shame if, having raised the funds for this therapy centre and secured the land, the Moonstone Appeal were to be left with land they couldn’t use (and therefore sell) _and_ lose their grant to boot.

    I guess this is what will end up happening more and more as public services are increasingly transferred to charities as part of this “Big Society” push?

  11. BBC article: £200,000 to divert a pipeline but £1 MILLION to move a few fibre optic cables. Surely that can’t be right?

    I wonder how many of those cables have been installed since 2007, when planning permission was first granted – conditional on access being from Bradley Stoke Way.

  12. They could fix most of the school traffic problems if they just double yellow lined the whole road. The problem is mostly that cars park on one side, and the road isn’t wide enough for two cars to pass each other with a car parked – hence most cars end up driving on the pavement which is hardly safe. The speed reducing single lane narrowings every 100m don’t help either.

  13. South Gloucestershire has now provided us with a statement concerning the delay in determining the application (PT10/0302/F), which we are happy to reproduce below …

    A South Gloucestershire Council spokesman said:

    “The applicant has exercised his right to appeal the application on the grounds of ‘non-determination’. This does not necessarily reflect any failing on the part of the council, rather that the eight week period is a target for determining planning applications and that certain applications may go ‘over time’ due to their complex nature.

    “In this case, there are a large number of objections to the application, most concerning issues of access through a residential road. Also, we understand that the applicant has time-limited funding, therefore he has decided to attempt to speed the planning process up by exercising his right to appeal.

    “Although we are keen to support this worthwhile facility, the council has to carefully balance the concerns of local residents with the wishes of the applicant. Inevitably, a process this thorough takes some time to complete.”

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