Friday, July 03, 2009

'Answers' to questions on sale of Bristol to Bath Railway Path land

Copied below are some questions recently put by me to Bristol City Council Cabinet members. The reply to Q1 is in my view disingenuous. Whilst it is interesting to note that no Bristol to Bath Railway Path land has yet been sold the response to Q1 gives the misleading impression that the council is consulting about the future of all affected railway path land. This is not the case. The hedgerow section I refer to is not covered and that the sale of this land will go ahead has been confirmed to members of the Bristol Parks Forum. The only indication of this in the answer I got was this bit '...on balance, the redevelopment of the derelict Chocolate Factory site will bring substantial benefits. This will inevitably have consequences for the land adjacent to the Railway Path.' This new consultation is quite unnecessary as the views of locals on all the land concerned was established in a consultation only months ago!!

C1. Glenn Vowles to ask Gary Hopkins, Executive Member for Environment and Community Safety and Jon Rogers Executive Member for Transport and Sustainability

Hedgerow loss due to Cycle Houses

Plans for the development of ‘cycle houses’ on the former Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Factory site have been granted planning permission. The development would, unless modified, mean the destruction of approximately 150 metres of mature hawthorn hedgerow. Hedgerows are of high landscape and conservation value. They add diversity to and are a traditional feature of the landscape. They provide foraging, roosting and nesting sites for birds. They are rich in animal and plant species (around 500 vascular plant species are found in UK hedgerows). They are home to many types of insect, mollusc, spider and small animal. They act as wildlife corridors allowing flora and fauna, including birds, foxes, badgers, mice and other small mammals, beetles and molluscs, routes for dispersal from remnant islands of habitat through an increasingly hostile landscape.

Q1. Can you confirm that Bristol City Council has sold to the developers a plot of land on/adjacent to the Bristol to Bath Railway Path that includes the 150 metre (approx) hedgerow referred to and that the Liberal Democrat administration authorised this sale?

C1.Q1 Reply:
No land has yet been sold. The Cabinet believe that, on balance, the redevelopment of the derelict Chocolate Factory site will bring substantial benefits. This will inevitably have consequences for the land adjacent to the Railway Path. However, we are not persuaded that the design solution currently proposed represents the best balance between regeneration, environment and use of the Railway Path, and we are therefore seeking the public's views as to the respective merits of shared or individual access from the 'cycle houses' to the path.
This administration is also concerned that there remain aspirations for Bus Rapid Transit along the Railway Path. We are therefore also reviewing the terms of the access arrangements between the Railway Path and the Chocolate Factory development to protect the Path.

Q2. Did the Bristol Liberal Democratic Party at any time in the last year appeal to the developers to modify their cycle house plans so that hedgerow loss was avoided?

C1.Q2 Reply:
Yes. Liberal Democrats (and others) have raised concerns about the placing of the cycle houses so close to the Railway Path and the consequent loss of hedgerow. These concerns were raised as part of the planning process and in earlier consultation.

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