Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Loss of quality of life in Redcatch Rd/Axbridge Rd/Friendship Rd neighbourhood

Its already been reported that Tesco's application to build a car park over part of the Friendship Inn garden was finally given planning permission by Bristol City Council. The pub will now rapidly be converted to a Tesco Express. Based on the rough notes I made this is what I said in person to the planning committee in addition to my written statement:

Here we are again. A whole range of people in very large numbers have expressed concern and opposition. Council strategies state the aim of improving neighbourhood quality of life and building a greener city but this plan, which would worsen both, could be given permission! You can ensure this does not happen by refusing permission.

Here we go again in a period when people want real and proper democracy (government by the people for the people) after expenses scandals that have brought politics in general to an even lower ebb than usual. Really listen to the people and you do your bit to boost politics. Really listen to the people and you'd reject this plan.

I note that members of the public dont get equal time and facilities when responding to planning applications compared to councillors and officers. I note that very often developers get lots of time and access to officers and councillors about their plans (including in this case, where inferior plans went back and forth between the council and Tesco) - this should give this committee all the more reason to give real weight to the number and range of people opposed to this plan from the public.

The councillors on the committee did not listen to the people - those from Labour (Sean Beynon and Colin Smith) gave particular support to Tesco's plans . Planning rules are truly out of date and badly out of tune with council policies, especially on quality of life and sustainability. The committee made their decision on a very narrow basis indeed, paying little or no heed to the context of the application and implications of giving permission. Another neighbourhood will lose quality of life and green character as a result and Knowle's local shopping will be disrpted by a giant supermarket chain with an anti-competitive attitude. It may not end here because several local people are wondering what plans Tesco might have for that part of the pub garden that wont be covered by the car park (room for expansion? room for a petrol station? room for...?).