Stoke Gifford Parish Council has lodged an objection to Bristol Rovers’ plans to build a 21,700 seater stadium on land owned by the University of the West of England (UWE), near the new Cheswick Village housing development [map].
The Council discussed the football club’s planning application at a committee meeting on 27th March, where it was decided to object on the grounds of traffic and transportation issues.
The objection, now recorded against the planning application on South Gloucestershire Council’s website, also raises concerns that the development would generate noise, disturbance and security concerns for local residents. It reads:
“The proposed site would be situated in the middle of a residential area and the existing infrastructure already suffers from congestion in and around the A4174.”
“The proposals would inevitably lead to congestion and parking issues which would significantly impact on local residents living nearby and neighbouring areas. The proposed stadium would also generate noise and general disturbances on a regular basis from a host of events as detailed within the application.”
“It is also noted by Council that residents have expressed concerns regarding their own safety and security whilst potential crowds of people are accessing the stadium within such close proximity to residential properties.”
In another development, a two page letter compiled by “the official Residents’ Association at Stoke Park” has been circulated to homes around the proposed stadium site. The communication encourages residents to submit formal objections to the scheme, suggesting numerous “consultation points” that they might wish to make on topics that include traffic, parking, noise pollution, anti-social behaviour, security and environmental pollution.
Summary of Residents’ Concerns
Whilst the applicants claim that stadium traffic will fall outside existing peak hours, residents say it will extend the period when the area is gridlocked leaving local road users “unable to travel conveniently”.
Extended hours of congestion at the Abbey Wood Roundabout will prevent a fast response to crime or local emergency, say residents.
The provision of just 1,000 parking spaces for 21,700 visitors plus staff/marshals/players is described as “grossly inadequate” by residents, who fear that parking will spill over into neighbouring residential areas.
The promised implementation of a ‘Stadium Events Residents Car Parking Zone’ is dismissed by residents, who fear that the parking restrictions will not be legally enforceable because “many roads in Cheswick are not yet adopted and may not be for some time (if ever)”.
Residents fear that they will be subjected to excessive nosie during events (particularly concerts) and, on match days, inappropriate singing and shouting from the fans and players.
The impact of car doors slamming and voices being raised as fans are leaving the area after evening matches is also highlighted.
Residents claim there is no demonstrable need for the extra facilities included in the stadium proposal and they point out that a gym is included in the recently submitted planning application for the new neighbourhood centre in Cheswick Village.
They claim that there are better sites that should be considered, including Filton Airfield (recently earmarked for development by South Gloucestershire Council) and vacant land owned by Rolls-Royce at Filton.
Hundreds of consultation comments have already been registered on the Council’s website, with the vast majority being of a supportive nature. The residents’ association’s letter claims that many of these are from people living outside the immediate area adding that they were submitted days before the planning documents were available to view on the website.
Research by The Journal confirms that supporting comments started appearing on the website on 15th March, following an appeal on the Bristol Rovers Fans’ Forum. The documents showing the plans didn’t appear until four days later, on 19th March.
Hidden amongst the many comments is a rambling letter of objection from agents acting on behalf of Hewlett Packard (HP), the company that owned the stadium land before selling it to the university. HP has an office complex immediately to the north of the proposed stadium and it objects to the application on numerous grounds that include an accusation of a total lack of consultation, a predicted detrimental effect on access to its “24/7 operations” and a predicted reduction in commercial property value as a result of having a “bad neighbour”.
UPDATE: To read the HP letter, find the first contribution from “Collins Coward”, dated 10th April, on the documents page of the planning application. Alternatively, a copy of the document can be viewed on Google Docs: http://bit.ly/HXozbe
What Happens Now?
The official closing date for consultation responses is today (12th April) but the letter from the residents’ association suggests that this has now been extended to 30th April. A source at South Gloucestershire Council was unable to confirm this as the responsible officers are currently on leave.
It is understood that the earliest date by which a decision will be made is July (sixteen weeks after submission). That will be preceded by a ‘site visit’ from members of the Council’s Sites Inspection Sub-Committee and the publication of a planning officer’s report containing a recommended decision. The report will then go to the Planning Committee for a final decision.