Supporting Documents were made available to the Committee in advance of the meeting.
The representative of the Head of Development Management made the following points by way of introduction:-
1. These proposals were due to be considered at Committee in September 2017, however two days before the Committee the Hospital chapel was listed as a Grade II listed building. This was a material change and required a withdrawal of the report as it did not reflect the listing and the necessary weight to be attached to it;
2. The applicant subsequently requested that the listing be reviewed by Central Government (DCMS) and as such the Public Inquiry arranged for November 2017 for the appeal against non-determination was put in abeyance pending the outcome of the review.
3. The application was therefore brought before the Committee to determine what its decision would have had it been able to determine the application so that officers could defend the reasons at appeal;
4. In light of the listing of the Chapel, there were two scenarios the Committee was asked to determine. The first scenario reflecting the position before the listing, which was needed should the Chapel be de-listed and the second where the Chapel was listed and remained listed;
5. There were no material changes to the proposals and therefore the only change was the listing of the Chapel which provided a further reason for refusal. The application consisted of 715 student bed spaces, office floor space, a medical school and 23 car parking spaces. Officers were satisfied that the loss of the hospital façade did not impede on the expansion of hospital facilities as the proposed medical school continued that link and the use of the land was therefore accepted. The contentious issues were the locally listed buildings, the urban and architectural design quality, air quality and the way one moved around the site;
6. Significant objections were received and there was collective concern regarding the quality of the scheme, the relationship with the street and the architectural quality and nature of the scheme;
7. There were various levels of harm on heritage assets such as St James Parade and Priory, the Coach House and White Harte. The Chapel was still locally listed (in the event that statutory listing was not confirmed) and its loss was considered harmful as it was part of Bristol’s identity and the replacement scheme did not compensate for that. Air quality was not good along the road and the extra height of the development was likely to make this worse as it acted in a canyoning effect. Officers had requested air quality remodelling but this had not been forthcoming and therefore this was a reason for refusal.
The following points arose from debate:-
1. Councillor Breckels observed that it was astonishing and tragic how much of the fabric of Bristol had survived the Blitz but was subsequently redeveloped. He was pleased the Chapel had been listed and supported officers’ recommendations for refusal. He asked whether it was possible to list the whole of the BRI building and was informed that there had been two previous unsuccessful attempts and was aware that there might be another attempt;
2. Councillor Bradley highlighted the poor air quality in a heavily trafficked area where there were sick people and asked whether officers could undertake the remodelling and was informed that this was the responsibility of the developer and for officers to then assess its findings;
3. Councillor Hance stated that there was very little to recommend in the proposals and moved that both scenarios be refused and this was seconded by Councillor Eddy. Both scenarios were put to the vote and it was unanimously :-
1. That had the Local Planning Authority been in a position to determine the development proposals prior to the Hospital Chapel being Grade II listed, it would have refused them on the grounds as set out in the report.
2. That had the Local Planning Authority been in a position to determine the development proposals where the Hospital Chapel remains Grade II listed, it would have refused them on the grounds as set out in the report.