Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Objection to 'cycle house' plans

No comments:
Submitted this objection to the so-called 'cycle house' plans on/near the Bristol to Bath Railway Path (or Land At Former Elizabeth Shaw Factory, Easton as the city council website puts it) today. I'm opposed to the development as it is currently planned and feel that to be given the go-ahead modifications should be required:
As a user of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path I am very concerned about several aspects of the proposed development, primarily in the eastern portion, and fear that developing land very close to and onto the path sets a precedent for future development. I am also concerned about the processes gone through by the council and am currently still going through the official complaints procedure (my complaint that the council is not following its own policy on Parks and Green Spaces is unresolved, has gone through several stages and has reached the Head of Corporate Complaints and council Chief Executive). I describe my concerns below and call for the planning authority to delay any planning permission until all the proper processes have been completed and that then any plans submitted are scaled back in places and changed to avoid the impacts I describe.

Council policy on green spaces states that through consultation Area Green Plans will be established to deal with land quality assessment, change of land use or disposal of land. There is not yet a plan to cover the land concerned, though the process of shaping such plans has already been started in parts of the city. It would be following the councils own policy to delay and agree an Area Green Space Plan before granting any planning permission or selling any land in this highly valued location.

No Environmental Impact Assessment of the plans has been conducted. The EU Directive relating to this is supposed to be interpreted and applied broadly and I believe an EIA (and thus a delay) is required given that the council describes the linear park along Bristol to Bath Railway Path as a significant green space in its Parks and Green Spaces Strategy. It would thus be following the councils own policy to conduct an EIA

The Bristol to Bath Railway Path currently offers significant, high quality services to its users, who are very large in number and are varied in type. The service to eg leisure, recreation and transport it offers is particularly valuable because of the beauty, tranquility and wildlife value of the area. The great pleasure, enrichment and education people gain from the path will be significantly reduced in places if current plans are not scaled back and changed, in particular: where embankment slope and mature hedgerow will be entirely lost. Plans should thus be scaled back and modified to avoid large amenity loss and reduction in ecological value.

The proposed construction of a 7 floor twin-tower block, a 4 floor block of flats and 14 houses in place of the hedgerow immediately alongside the verge of the Railway Path very significantly changes the green and pleasant landscape and character of the location, making it noisier, harder on the eye and most unlike many other parts of the path/linear park. These features of the development should be moved further away from the Railway Path.

The mature hedgerow referred to above is very biodiverse and any proposed compensation for loss of habitat and wildlife is very likely to result in net biodiversity loss for some considerable time. The row of Hawthorn trees, a key feature, are of high heritage as well as wildlife value (especially to insect and bird life). Badgers and slow worms have been seen in this area and both are protected species whose welfare needs to be assured. Scaling back and changing the plans would avoid damaging wildlife.

Finally I am concerned that any development right onto the Bristol to Bath Railway Path is likely to increase the accident rate as cyclists, skateboarders and others approach what would become a more populated spot with consequent dangerous multiple junctions. Scaling back and modifying the plans would reduce this likelihood.