Nine-storey building for UWE students granted consent despite road safety concerns

Visualisation: Looking north from Filton Retail Park.
Visualisation: Looking north from Filton Retail Park. Note: The DW Fitness unit is now Everlast.

Plans for an “excessively tall” nine-storey block of flats for 330 students near the University of the West of England (UWE) have been approved.

South Gloucestershire councillors granted planning permission for the “landmark” spiral-design building on the former B&Q garden centre site at Filton Retail Park in Stoke Gifford, despite concerns about road safety as the apartments will be on the other side of the A4174 Ring Road to the north of the UWE campus.

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Cllr Trevor Jones (Conservative, Winterbourne) told the Development Management Committee on Thursday 17th August 2023:

“I’m really concerned about the pedestrian traffic for this development.”

“My concern about the way officers are dealing with the crossing on the A4174 is it does not deal with the idiots.”

“I’ve watched people dash across the road without waiting for a green man or, even worse, stopping in the middle for a chat.”

“I don’t want to hear a month after this place opens that someone has been wiped out on that crossing.”

“There needs to be better lighting and better traffic lights.”


Highways officer Chris Rose said:

“We’ve checked this crossing out with the civil engineer and it’s working perfectly okay.”

“You press the button, the traffic stops, it allows enough time to cross and then it goes green again for the traffic.”

Andrew Shore, chair of Stoke Gifford Parish Council’s Planning & Transportation Committee, echoed the concerns about road safety and said there would be insufficient parking and loss of neighbours’ privacy, while the building, ranging from five to nine storeys, was out of keeping with the area.

He said purpose-built student accommodation should be contained within the campus and not the other side of the dual carriageway.

Aerial view of the site (shown shaded red).
Aerial view of the site (shown shaded red). Image credit: Canada Life Asset Management.

One resident told the committee:

“We need to remember this is Stoke Gifford, not UWE Town.”

She said the development would “swamp” existing facilities that were already under pressure.

“There is no need for a landmark building – we don’t need fingers pointing at the sky, we need practical facilities,” she added.

Mr Rose said students would have to sign a contract not to bring a car within two miles, so parking was not an issue.

Principal planning officer David Stockdale said the site was “highly sustainable” located near two railway stations, bus routes, UWE’s bus terminal and shops and that a nearby NHS building was higher.

He said concerns about neighbours’ homes being overlooked from the new flats were unfounded because the nearest properties were more than 100 metres away, while the tallest part of the proposed block would be furthest away.

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Cllr June Bamford (Conservative, Hanham) said:

“The old B&Q site is very derelict and something needs to be done.”

“We might have liked a community project there but nothing else is on offer and UWE do need more space for the students.”

She said the building would have a “considerable visual impact” so planning officers must negotiate an acceptable final design as part of the conditions attached to the consent.

Members voted 7:1 to accept officers’ recommendation to approve the plans by investors Canada Life Asset Management for the site, at the southern end of the building home to Lidl and The Range.

✍ Article by Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

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