UTC plans recommended for approval

Proposed Bristol Technology & Engineering College, Stoke Gifford.

Plans to build a University Technical College (UTC) on the site of the former Filton High School in New Road, Stoke Gifford, look set to be given the green light by a planning committee later today (Thursday 13th).

Officers at South Gloucestershire Council have recommended approval of the plans for the new college, which will have a capacity for 440 students between the ages of 14 and 19.

The UTC, if approved, will be constructed alongside a new engineering department building for City of Bristol College – a project that was granted planning permission in April.

A total of 14 local residents or organisations have submitted objections to the scheme, mainly on the grounds that the development would increase traffic in the area and lead to further demand for street parking (already an issue due to the proximity of Parkway Station).

The proposed provision of just 17 car parking spaces on the site has also attracted criticism.

Stoke Gifford Parish Council has voiced similar “concerns” although it has stopped short of raising a formal objection. The Council adds that it would like to see CCTV monitoring on the short bus lane that links New Road with Brierly Furlong, near the Parkway railway bridge.

A 22-page report to be considered by Councillors on the Development Contreol (West) Committee this afternoon concludes that:

“… the economic benefits of the proposed development outweigh the short term impacts upon the capacity of the local highway network.”

The college is sponsored by the University of the West of England (UWE), Rolls Royce, Airbus, GKN Aerospace and City of Bristol College and will be named the ‘Bristol Technology & Engineering Academy‘ (BTE Academy).

Applications from students wishing to start in Years 10 & 12 in September 2013 have already opened.

The number of students at the college will increase from 195 in 2013/14 to 440 in 2016/17. Staff will similarly increase from 16.6 full-time-equivalent in 2103/14 to 33.5 in 2016/17.

In their report, although Council officers acknowledge that the local highway network is already congested at peak times, they claim that the UTC would not materially impact the current situation:

“Although in the interim this proposal will increase congestion in the vicinity of the site, congestion is at such a level that the additional vehicle movements on the network would be indeterminable and would be no worse than daily variances that can currently exist.”

Officers claim that a number of upcoming Council-funded schemes will have a mitigating effect on the traffic situation. These include three cycling and walking improvement schemes, the Stoke Gifford Parkway Station Parking Reviews, the Parkway North Park and Ride and the Greater Bristol Bus Network.

The North Fringe to Hengrove Package bus rapid transit scheme, incorporating a new Stoke Gifford by-pass (due to be constructed from 2014 with a three-year build programme) will have a more significant mitigating effect, they add.

A document available on the SGC website suggests that the UTC may struggle to achieve its hoped-for opening date of September 2013.

Writing to the Council on 1st July, BTE Academy Chair of Trustees Keith Elliot stated that he was hopeful of consent being granted in August. In his letter he added:

“Should planning be delayed, the BTE Academy would have to open in partially completed buildings or in temporary accommodation, which would significantly impact on the experience of the first young people attending the UTC and would not offer the best start for the new Academy.”

Related link: Schools & Colleges in Stoke Gifford (The Journal)

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  1. As expected, planning permission for the new UTC was granted by the Committee at its meeting on Thursday 13th September. Voting: 11 FOR; 2 AGAINST. Read more: Minutes [PDF, 115kB]

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