Council rejects MS therapy centre’s Wheatfield Drive access plan

MS Therapy Centre - North Elevation

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.

Access Point in Wheatfield Drive, Bradley Stoke

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).

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  1. Well done councillors. Supporting local people is the name of the game. This application was ill conceived knowing the amount of opposition which resulted in the original condition (access via Bradley Stoke Way) be approved.

  2. Whilst welcoming the MS Therapy Centre in principal I feel that the whole process has been underhanded and that the intention was always to have access via Wheatfield Drive.

    It used to be the case that when developing a site plan a review of the existing services must take place as part of a ground survey. The oil pipeline is clearly marked in the vacinity. Also a simple local search should have indicated the cabling and pipeline and am suprised that the architects were not aware of these from early in the process. However if fundamental surveying and planning practices have changed in the last 20 years then maybe I am wrong.

    If you read the Moonstone Appeal website the volumes of people attending is anticipated to be at least double those outlined in the planning application/supporting docuementation which will almost certainly result in an increase of street parking in and around Wheatfield & Dewfalls. Parking spaces vs parking requirements seems to be questionable in the planning before the anticipated growth is considered.

    One of the reasons the MS Centre wishes to move from where they are now is due to parking issues.

    My understanding is that the secondary unit that is being proposed as an MS Respite Centre is for single occupancy rooms and could be re-used for a number of different categories of clients that require secure housing. This has never been clarified from the initial consultation phase when this was planned to be a ‘secure’ unit and I am concerned about the co-location with the school when you consider some of the potential uses/occupancy. I have a nagging suspicion that the respite centre will be quickly re-assigned for other uses once building has commenced and would welcome any assuarances that could be given that this is not to be the case.

    If the access and secondary unit usage could be addressed then I am sure that most residents would welcome the MS Centre and develop links over the coming years.

    I welcome the council rejection of this proposal but fear that this is but a temporary delay.

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