Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Malago WI objection submitted to Council planners

Dear Mr Stone

I write on behalf of the members of Malago Women's Institute to object to the proposed superstore development at Ashton Gate stadium (application number: 09/03208/P.

Our organisation objects to the application for the following reasons:
1. The detrimental effect a superstore would have on the local area has already been identified by the assessment made by Bristol City Council planning committee (report DPDS Ref DAM/C10133). The report identified no need for the store, a likely decline in the quality of [Bedminster town] centre in the medium and longer term, leading to decline in the physical condition and attractiveness of the centre. The report also says that the store site offers poor access by walking, cycling and public transport and offers only good access by car (creating traffic, safety and environmental issues), and that any jobs created would be off set by job losses elsewhere, with no evidence of the store boosting economic and physical regeneration.

There are countless examples of areas in which new supermarkets have effectively killed off the local, independent traders – those at the centre of our community that have been so essential in maintaining and stimulating economic growth in much of south Bristol. This cannot be allowed to happen in an area held up by many as a shining example of local high street regeneration, and one with access to plenty of supermarkets already.

2. The potential impact of a superstore at Ashton Gate would have dire environmental consequences for south Bristol. Traffic and congestion would worsen, and the suggested solution of removing bus/cycle lanes on Winterstoke Road to ameliorate a suggested increase of 300 cars at peak time is short-sighted, particularly for the UK's first Cycling City. Increased traffic makes roads less safe for pedestrians, and the route alongside the park is the main route for children attending Ashton Park school. The increase in traffic would also worsen air quality (already an issue), and refrigeration units, delivery lorries and 24-hour lighting would also have an impact on all these areas.

3. The argument for the development as an 'enabling' development is not appropriate, as any suggested benefits of the stadium would create corresponding disadvantages for the local community and retail centre (as outlined above). We do not believe alternative sources of finance cannot be found. If the stadium development cannot be privately financed, it could be argued that the business model is unsound, and therefore sale of the land owned by Bristol City Council would not be in the best interest of its citizens.

4. The outline application does not give enough information with regard to the sustainability of the development. We believe the application does not adhere to Government policy in terms of reducing carbon emissions. If Bristol is set to succeed in its pledge as Green Capital, Bristol City Council must be prepared to insist on developments which support the aspirations to work towards a low carbon future.

The group would like to see a proposal for the site incorporating affordable housing, leisure or sport activities, all of which would benefit the community in significant ways. The WI has a particular interest in environmental sustainability, and Malago WI has developed an environmental policy and action plan setting out its vision for minimising its own environmental impact and exploring ways to support local, sustainable projects. A superstore at Ashton Gate goes against these aims entirely and, as such, is not supported by our organisation.

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