An appeal has been lodged against the local planning authority’s decision to refuse permission for the creation of a new vehicular access point directly off Hatchet Road into the site of the former Co-operative food store near Parkway Station.
The controversial planning application was thrown out by members of South Glos Council’s Development Management Committee back in February, despite the council’s professional planning officers recommending that it be approved.
A government-appointed planning inspector will now determine the case using the ‘written representations’ procedure (as opposed to a public hearing)
Agents acting for the applicant, Danolly Limited, have submitted their ‘statement of case’ and the appeal procedure officially commenced on 15th June, when all interested parties, including those who had previously commented on the planning application, were notified.
South Glos Council has been given until 20th July to submit its own ‘statement of case’. Other interested parties who wish to make representations must do so by the same date.
The planning inspector will then allow the applicant a further two weeks to submit their final comments.
The applicant has claimed that a “lack of direct vehicular access from Hatchet Road” was the primary reason for the Co-op choosing not to extend its lease in January 2020 (when the store closed) and that its provision is “imperative to facilitate the ongoing occupation of the site for retail uses”.
Commenting on an earlier planning application that was subsequently withdrawn, the council’s transport officer raised concerns relating to several potential issues, including: the impact on congestion and road safety on Hatchet Road, the need for vehicles to make a sharp turn on entry into the site, the capacity of the new junction, pedestrian safety within the site and the creation of a new short-cut route for vehicles between Hatchet Lane and Hatchet Road.
The revised planning application submitted in October 2020 included some minor alterations and was supported by an independently authored road safety audit, which led to the council’s transport officers conceding that their original concerns had been “unfounded” and the case officer recommending approval.
Following publication of the recommended decision, Stoke Gifford councillor Ernie Brown invoked the ‘call in’ mechanism to force determination of the application by a committee of elected councillors.
The Development Management Committee subsequently voted 7:0 to refuse permission, citing the reason for refusal as “severe highway safety impact … to the detriment of visibility, traffic flows [and] pedestrian safety”.
The applicant’s recently submitted ‘statement of case’ includes an endorsement of the findings of the previous road safety audit by a second independent expert. It also presents the results of a new automatic traffic count survey that was undertaken on Hatchet Road in March 2021 which are said to provide further evidence that the proposed new junction “would still operate with significant reserve capacity”.
Points raised by Stoke Gifford councillor Ernie Brown during the committee meeting are dismissed as being “not justified with any evidence”.
The statement concludes: “No evidence has been presented to us which demonstrates that there is an unacceptable impact on highway safety or that the residual impact on the highway network would be severe. This is a judgement that must be made by trained technical officers and in this case, the council’s transport officer found no technical grounds to object to the development. Therefore, it is considered that the council’s decision was not made in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework.”
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This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 10 & 11). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.