Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) has suffered a setback in its ambitions to redevelop the dilapidated hard court area in the grounds of Brook Way Activity Centre after officers at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) indicated they were minded to refuse planning consent for a proposed scheme that would see the area converted to additional car parking spaces and green open space.
The news comes exactly four years after the then mayor Cllr Brian Hopkinson proposed the construction of two new buildings on the site, one for a charity and the other for youth provision.
A subsequent public consultation on the future of the area showed that 59 percent of respondents wanted to see additional parking facilities provided at the combined community centre and doctors’ surgery site, with just 20 percent supporting the need for a “new building” of some form.
After a working group set up to consider the results of the consultation failed to produce any formal reports or recommendations over a period of more than two years, the matter came back to Full Council in July 2016, where it was unanimously decided to use earmarked reserves of up to £50,000 to convert the hard court area to green open space and extend the car park.
A planning application was subsequently submitted to SGC (in April 2017), for a scheme that would create 20 additional parking spaces at the site, with 12 of these being created by expanding the existing car park into the area currently occupied by the hard courts and the other eight being created on the doctors’ surgery side of the access road. The remainder of the hard court area would be converted to green open space, with a new footpath being created to link this to the access road.
Plans showed that ten existing trees on the site would need to be “relocated” as part of the work.
Signs that all might not be well with the application emerged in June, when councillors were told that SGC’s tree officer had expressed “concerns about the loss of some trees”.
This was followed in August by the news that SGC had insisted that the town council produce an arboricultural survey and provide justification of the need for additional parking at the site.
September’s Full Council meeting was informed that SGC officers had expressed additional concerns about damage to tree roots that might be caused by making deep excavations in the front part of the hard court area in order to bring it down to the same level as the existing car park.
Councillors were told that a surveyor has now advised that the existing surface of the hard court could be retained on the part which is proposed to be used for additional car parking, although a ramp would need to be constructed to bridge the difference in level relative to the existing car park. It was noted that this possibility had been discounted during earlier discussions on the advice of a (now former) town councillor who works in the construction trade.
It was agreed that the town council’s planning application should now be withdrawn, “to avoid losing the application fee”, and resubmitted with amendments at a later date.
Further meetings will now be held with the town council’s surveyor before options and costings of possible scheme variations are brought back to Full Council.
Photos: 1 Dilapidated hard court area at the council’s Brook Way Activity Centre. 2 Car park chaos in front of Bradley Stoke Surgery (archive image).
This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 2 & 3). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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