Monday, November 02, 2009

Green BCFC stadium design planned for our 'green' city? Should be but isn't...

Copy of my objection to the new BCFC stadium plans, sent in just over a week ago...
Please reject this planning application (09/02242/P). Loss of green belt land and stimulus to further loss of green belt land should be unacceptable, particularly given the extent to which the stadium is not green in design.

There are concrete and long term disbenefits from loss of green belt - a land use designation that is supposed to be used to retain areas of largely undeveloped, wild, or agricultural land surrounding or neighbouring urban areas. Granting planning permission would also be a big stimulus to further loss of green belt and yet more impacts on local communities and environment, compared with benefits that are merely possibilities under certain circumstances - and they are pretty uncertain and transient in nature. For example: credible hard facts that demonstrate that [possibly] having a bit of World Cup football in Bristol for a short period many years hence would give significant net social, economic and environmental benefits are very, very hard to come by, though hype, trivia and illusion on this issue are very easy to find!!

There are certain factors that, under current planning law and guidance, are not legitimate planning criteria against which the application should be judged. These include: World Cup games in Bristol aspirations; Bristol City FC premiership aspirations; support for the application from the local media for the stadium; support from political party leaders for the stadium; support from a multi-millionaire and major supermarket chain for the stadium proposal. These things therefore, at least in theory, should not affect decision making - I sincerely hope that this is the case.

Very little or nothing of what is planned matches the sustainable development all politicians say they are signed up to!! Bristol City have had the option of following good, green practice – but have not taken it. It would of course have gone well with Bristol's green capital ambitions and would have compensated to a degree for the loss of green belt – but they have not abided by this principle.

To what extent is sustainable economic activity promoted eg the use of local labour and local energy and materials? To what extent are the latest energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable transport technologies employed? Are sustainable access options - walking, cycling and light rail transport links – maximised? Will the stadium be unobtrusive in appearance and sound? Does it feature permanently protected nature reserves around the stadium, designed to maximise biodiversity? Does it aim to be a carbon neutral stadium? Do proposals avoid any 'sprawl' in design? Has there been a thorough ecological assessment of the whole area, at various times of the year before drawing up plans?

How do BCFCs plans compare with examples of football clubs who have used or attempted to use at least some green principles, designs and technologies: Dartford FC (pictured) – living grass roof, solar electricity and heating, rainwater collection and low noise and light pollution design; Ipswich Town – carbon neutral scheme; Middlesborough – solar roof and wind turbines project; Man City – community involvement, transport and waste initiatives (wind turbines were planned but sadly now abandoned)??


  1. I am so glad the planning committee decided to listen to the professionals when making their decision on the new stadium, while at the same time not ignoring the protesters.

    They took their advice from people who know the application did not include all the things you refered to ie: world cup, millionaire, local media, supermarket chain, which by the way has never supported the stadium plans.

    None of these things were considered, in fact they were made plain to the committee by the chair that they shouldn't be considered.

    The committee decided to allow the stadium to be built on a previously used piece of land that is neither wild nor agricultural, although it is a former landfill site with pipes sticking out of it to release methane gasses.

    If you take the design and it's location, to have included wind turbines, grass roofs (which would require considerably more steel supports)
    or solar panels then the green party would have criticised it for being unsympathetic to it's environment and another reason to reject it.

    It does have plans to use rainwater for irrigation and use rainwater for the flushing toilets as well as meeting all new building regulations on carbon emissions, power consumption, insulation, sound and light emissions.

    Balancing ponds will be constructed where wildlife can prosper and green corridors will surround most parts of the development
    Although this is not quite a wetlands nature reserve, it will be better than a tip with a covering of substandard topsoil which is there at present which people are laughingly describing as a village green.

    There is still scope for improvement and the bid by Bristol City council for world cup host status may well include more green benefits regarding transport and travel arrangements.
    I suggest you lobby the council for this Glen.


    Richard Lane

  2. They've decided to build on green belt land Richard!! And ignored the principle of compensating for raising the local ecological and carbon footprints through use of a green stadium design (they make only a small token effort on this).

    The idea that the Green Party would reject the stadium because of the use of wind power is a very odd one I have to say. I wrote to the council and BCFC asking them to consider including this option in the design!! Each design should be treated on its merits mind you -wind may or may not have been appropriate (there are many types of renewable energy).

    I'd say that there is still some way to go before this stadium proposal can become a reality - not least how it will/can be funded and how to sort out access to the stadium (N Somerset Council may have something to say on this too). Why should council tax payers subsidise a football club owned by very wealthy people?

  3. Glenn

    You may not think so but I would like to see more eco friendly systems included in all new building works. Unfortunately as usual our country penalises people when calculating the price of any ecological items and makes things out of reach to the normal man in the street to have things such as wind turbines and solar panels.

    You are quite correct, there is a long way to go before a ball gets kicked in anger at Ashton Vale.

    Are you saying that if someone proposed to site a wind farm on greenbelt land the green party would not consider it innapropriate development?

    Could you explain in detail how much subsidy/cash the council are actually giving to the football club.

    This is how I see it.
    The club owns the lease on the car park and as such they can develop it (with Planning permission)or sell it and it increases in value because the club not the council own the lease on it.

    I believe the same situation arises with the allotment site. The council transfers the site with a value of that site set at allotment value. The club develop that land With planning permission)and it increases in value.

    Only if the council took the risks, paid for and carried out these developments would they be entitled to class that money/profit call it what you want, theirs/the peoples to subsidize whatever they wanted.

    It has been mentioned that because the BRT needs to divert around the stadium this will cost about £5m which is also considered by some to be a subsidy.

    As the previous plan for the BRT would have gone across the stadium site, the owners of that land would have needed compensating for that land.
    I think to obtain that land, a compulsory purchase order would have been needed.
    Add legal fees to the cost of the land and the question is, which is more expensive the detour or the purchase? bear in mind the land running around the stadium for the BRT will be given to the BRT by the owners.

    As the council will be recieving considerable amounts of cash in rates from all of these developments for many years to come, plus they haven't had to stump up a penny in cash, plus the BRT gets an awful lot of passengers to help pay the running cost's, then I don't think it's a bad deal all round.

    I think I'm correct in thinking that it is usual practice for a 106 agreement to include a portion of the profits of that development to go as payment to the council, this is to be used towards council services in the future.
    As this is a non profit making scheme, where do you think this payment/bribe should come from.

    The council are at last being proactive in helping to give it's citizens something positive.

    The benefits of this development are for all citizens wether they choose to use it or not.
    Just like any other scheme in this city which is so say subsidised by the council, like the busses which I never use but still have to pay for.




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