South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) Development Contol (West) Committee has rejected an application by the developers of a proposed new MS therapy centre in Bradley Stoke to allow access to the site from Wheatfield Drive.
In making the decision, members of the Committee (which includes two Bradley Stoke Councillors) ignored a recommendation from planning officers that the application should be approved since:
“… the proposed access from Wheatfield Drive is safe … and would not result in a material impact upon highway safety and amenity.”
Permission to build the centre was granted in November 2009, with a condition that the site, behind Wheatfield Primary School, be accessed exclusively from Bradley Stoke Way.
The developers of the centre later caused uproar amongst local residents when they submitted revised plans showing access from a cul-de-sac in Wheatfield Drive.
According to a recent BBC website article, the Moonstone Appeal says it was forced to make the U-turn after fibre optic cables were discovered running immediately beneath the line of the proposed access road off Bradley Stoke Way.
The BBC article said it would cost an astonishing £1 million to move the cables, which the charity says it cannot afford.
SGC failed to issue a decision on the revised access plans, leading to the application being referred to the Planning Inspectorate, which is expected to issue a ruling at the end of July.
The Moonstone Appeal then submitted a duplicate planning application to SGC, in the hope that it might yield a decision before the Inspectorate was able to make a ruling on the first application.
Both planning applications were considered at a meeting of SGC’s Development Control (West) Committee on 24th June, where Bradley Stoke Councillor Brian Hopkinson highlighted residents’ concerns that the proposed access via Wheatfiled Drive would:
“… lead to an unacceptable increase in traffic movement through this already congested residential area, which would be detrimental to highway safety and residential amenity”
A statement from Jack Lopresti MP was also read out at the meeting, voicing support for residents and expressing concern over the impact of construction vehicles using Wheatfield Drive.
Both applications were eventually rejected by the Committee, despite a warning from the Legal Services Officer that the Council could be putting itself at risk of an award of costs being made against it should a subsequent appeal be successful.
Relief short-lived as hedge cut down by developers
Residents’ relief at the Council’s rejection of the Wheatfield Drive access plan was, however, short-lived. The very next morning, a 3 metre gap is reported to have been cut out of a hedge bordering the site to allow developers access onto the land to undertake soil sampling.
The gap, at the very same location in Wheatfield Drive where developers wish to have permanent vehicular access, has since been stopped up with a wooden rail fence (photo).
- SGC letter to the Planning Inspectorate containing extracts from the minutes of the Development Control (West) Committee meeting on 24th June
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