Dismay at flats bid for woodland site

Neighbours say a plan to build flats behind the Tesco Express on Gloucester Road will have a huge impact on a much needed local wildlife haven, and add to parking problems.

They say a small woodland area behind the store at 171-175 Gloucester Road is a vital green lung and home to birds, slow worms and bats.

Tesco is due to vacate the building when its lease ends in the near future, and developers want to convert it into two flats, and form an access to the land behind, which is currently used as a storage area.

They say they would fell some of the trees in the area behind, which backs on to gardens of houses on North Road, and build seven more two and three storey flats.

At the time of going to print 43 objections had been lodged at Bristol City Council’s planning portal, including one from Bristol Tree Forum, which said the application failed to explain which trees would be felled and which would be retained.

They say there are 20-30 trees on the site, four of which are sycamores which are subject to Tree Protection Orders. 

In the application, consultants Rackham Planning, working for Whitehorse Homes Ltd, say the site is currently “unsightly” and would be converted into seven two and three bedroom flats, which would be “car free”  with parking for 22 cycles. 

Rackham say: “The provision of this type of flats will provide accommodation attractive to the growing market of young professionals who are seeking to get on the property ladder or find accommodation in the City which is subject to ever increasing prices.”

 And they say converting Tesco into two smaller retail units will enhance the character of the Gloucester Road.

“The proposed development will not have a harmful impact on the character of the Gloucester Road Conservation Area and will actually enhance its character, and further promote the positive features.”

Among the objections, many said they were concerned about the potential loss of trees.

One objector said: “The strip of land has a number of matures trees and is home to a surprising amount of wildlife. 

“Birds nest in the trees and the strip of gardens behind it are home to slow worms, palmate newts and frogs so the land itself will certainly have these species present. Bats can also be seen flying around the gardens in the evening.”

Another said the loss of green cover would impact houses further afield: “Even from Effingham Road, the row of trees are a beautiful sight to break up an otherwise very urban area.”

One North Road resident said: “The proposed development directly backs onto my property and will overshadow the garden, with the proposed flats looking directly into our bedrooms. 

“This would hugely impact our privacy both inside the house and in the garden.”

People living nearby also say they are concerned the plan will exacerbate parking problems for people living near the Gloucester Road.

One objector said: “There is no parking provided with the site. There is no way of enforcing a no car rule unless a residents’ parking scheme is introduced which specifically bans residents of this development from having a parking permit which has been done in other towns and cities. 

“Without any form of enforcement there is bound to be a knock on effect on parking in the surrounding roads. The parking on pavements, on double yellow lines and on corners is already dangerous without more cars fighting for spaces.”

In 2005 a proposal for a house and six flats on the site was rejected by Bristol City Council.

The planning application can be viewed at :https://tinyurl.com/2p8z4uy8