Battle-hardened residents’ group vows to fight planned shopping centre expansion

Photo of around 30 protesters, some holding placards, outside the Willow Brook Centre.

News that the Willow Brook Centre is proposing to build two free-standing food and drink units in the north-east corner of its site (as previously reported) has been swiftly condemned by members of a local residents’ group whose properties adjoin the northern boundary of the complex.

The Dewfalls and Wheatfield Drive Residents Association (DAWDRA) is a group that was originally formed in 2005 to influence the development of Bradley Stoke’s new town centre (now known as the Willow Brook Centre). With the help of local councillors, it successfully fought off initial proposals put forward by Tesco that would have seen the massive main building of the shopping centre stand within metres of the rear gardens of properties in Dewfalls Drive and Wheatfield Drive.

The latest proposals are also likely to rekindle arguments about how vehicles enter and leave the shopping centre. When the plans for the original development were submitted, the town council argued in favour of direct access from Bradley Stoke Way, but was overruled by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), with the result that those arriving along Bradley Stoke Way have to take a much more indirect route along minor roads to reach the car park.

Commenting on the latest plans put forward by the Willow Brook Centre, a DAWDRA spokesperson said:

“As local residents, we are becoming increasingly concerned about the traffic congestion in and around the Willow Brook Centre. The traffic is regularly backed up from Savages Wood Road in both directions to Bradley Stoke Way and Brook Way. Having further development of fast food drive-through units will encourage more motor traffic into this area, bringing with it further pollution and congestion which will have a detrimental environmental impact to the residents of Bradley Stoke.”

“There are already a number of fast food units within the Willow Brook Centre and the litter from these food outlets is already contaminating the immediate environment and adjacent nature reserve. Further units will only add to this problem.”

“Whilst it is understandable that some Bradley Stoke residents may support fast food outlets at the Willow Brook Centre, DAWDRA’s primary concerns are: (a) the proposed location; (b) to highlight to others, including SGC, the need for careful consideration when submitting planning proposals; and (c) for residents’ interests to be taken into account.”

Photo: Local residents gather near the site of the proposed new food and drink units to demonstrate their opposition.

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 9). 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.

UPDATE (29th March 2018)

The Journal understands that a formal planning application has now been made to South Gloucestershire Council and is currently being validated. Subject to successful validation, it will be published on the council website in due course and a period of public consultation will be opened.

Additional content from a second article in the BSJ magazine

A press release put out by the centre in late February said the expansion proposals were being brought forward following “a detailed series of technical surveys that have included traffic, parking and utilities” and “positive pre-planning [discussions] with South Gloucestershire Council”.

The document explained that it is intended to deliver the planned development in two phases:

“The first phase will see the introduction of an extended food and beverage offer at the centre and is planned to be trading early in 2019. Agents from Willow Brook are in advanced discussions with both McDonald’s and Starbucks to trade in the units, offering seating and drive-through services.”

“The second phase will see an additional 30,000 square foot of retail space extending the retail terrace strip of retail park style tenants, as well as some reconfiguration to the car park.”

The Journal understands that the proposed extension to the retail terrace and associated reconfiguration of the car park will not be developed in the short term, but will be progressed dependent on occupier demand.

Andy Wynn, Centre Manager at Willow Brook, said:

“We have been working on these plans for many months and it is exciting that we can now share them with our customers as we approach the 10th anniversary of opening. Our planning partners wrote to neighbours last week to begin a pre-planning consultation. I would encourage local stakeholders to take part in consultation.”

“We have had so many comments from customers over recent years, asking for more food and beverage (F&B) offers and we are looking forward to being able to deliver these key amenities for the community. Currently there is insufficient F&B with seating, leading to inconvenience and frustration for our customers.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 6 & 7). 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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  1. I’m growing increasingly concerned at the congestion in the queue for Costa. At times it takes 20 minutes to get a coffee during peak hours. Anybody who denies this fact is delusional. This development won’t affect the traffic or the housing in the area and any argument against the new stores neglects to consider simple factor of the population growth of the area. Since I’ve been in Bradley Stoke the population has doubled, and the demand for more services has doubled with it. Has any of the few pictured actually asked the community what they want, or are they just speaking for themselves?

  2. This is a Costa issue, not a centre one.

    The times I have found static queues at Costa the are short of staff and running one coffee machine and one barista.

    I agree that Bradley Stoke’s population is still increasing, and the centre needs expanding, but this can be done in the car park at the end by PoundStretcher, or by adding some units in the car park near the current centre.

    Adding two units at the far side of the car park, next to local residents and far from existing shops makes no sense.

  3. As in all these situations there has to be some sense brought to bear. There needs to be consultation with everyone not just the pressure group. All of the residents are entitled to be concerned if the new proposals bring extra noise but the planners can take this into consideration and build accordingly.

    I understand that around fast food places litter can be an issue but if MacDonalds at Filton is anything to go by they send staff out at regular intervals to tidy up. No one should be able to veto the proposals out of hand.

    Has anyone thought that this may be the best opportunity to get the traffic flow around the area sorted out?

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