Developers can build 17 new apartments on Gloucester Road after councillors made a U-turn on their decision to refuse permission. Planning officers warned Bristol City Council would likely lose if the developers appealed the decision, costing taxpayers thousands.
Last month the development control B committee voted to refuse planning permission for the flats on the corner of Gloucester Road and Berkeley Road, due to concerns about road safety and over-development. But the committee has now backtracked, granting permission after all.
The apartments will be built in a converted Methodist chapel, previously home to an electrical shop, with three storeys and some retail space kept on the ground floor. The U-turn was made during a committee meeting on Tuesday, June 13.
Green Councillor Guy Poultney said: “The concern I had was the highway works and that particular spot being an incredibly busy junction on one of the busiest arterial routes in the city, as well as a pedestrian crossing. And then there are two entrances to the petrol station opposite. What would happen to the displaced cars if that on-street parking was to be lost?”
Other concerns expressed during the previous meeting include the impact on parking. Conservative Cllr Chris Windows said he often drove down Berkeley Road, which was “too busy” for so many new homes to be built. Only one car parking space would have been provided for residents of the new flats, sparking fears of an increase in parking pressures along the road.
Another issue was the petrol station, which councillors were concerned could be affected by drivers parking in front of the entrances. But a council expert said the entrance on Berkeley Road was only used twice a week.
Philippa Howson, a transport officer, said: “They are removing some off-street parking, and that makes that footway safer. The movement into the petrol station was tracked — it’s two movements a week. It is one of the widest junctions in our whole city. There would be no grounds for a road safety objection, because everything is manageable within what the approval would lead to.”
Last month the committee resolved to refuse permission, and asked planning officers to come back with reasons for refusal. These have to be carefully worded, in case a developer legally appealed the decision. This month, four councillors were sat on the committee who weren’t there last month, and one councillor who was there last month changed her mind.
Voting in favour of the development were Labour Cllrs Fabian Breckels and Amal Ali; Liberal Democrat Andrew Brown; Conservatives Richard Eddy and Lesley Alexander; and Green Cllrs Guy Poultney, Lorraine Francis and Ani Stafford-Townsend. Voting against was Labour Cllr Katja Hornchen.
By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service