The representative of the Service Manager (Development Management) made the following points:
(1) Details of the site location were provided
(2) The zebra crossing would be moved further west along Eastgate Road
(3) Eastgate Centre was not a defined centre in the Core Strategy. This had been considered when the Core Strategy was prepared. Representations had been made in the current review of the Bristol Local Plan to have the Eastgate Centre designated as a centre but this would not be supported by officers.
(4) There was a long history on the site, details of which were provided
(5) Since Eastgate was not a defined centre , it needed to pass the sequential test policy. The application does not pass the sequential test and this is a reason to refuse the proposal.
(6) Officers were concerned about the loss of green infrastructure and that very little would be retained, although it was acknowledged that there would be an offsite contribution in accordance with the BTRS. However, there was no justification for the loss of the trees as the development does not achieve any policy aims in the Core Strategy and this is a further reason for refusal.
(7) Officers were concerned about highway safety because the zebra crossing would be moved away from
the ‘desire line’ for cyclists and pedestrians who may as a result make unsafe crossings increasing the risk of pedestrian / cycle / vehicle collisions. This was a further reason to refuse the proposal.
Councillors made the following points:
(8) The district retail offer avoids congestion and pollution by providing a local amenity. There was no reason why local people should be denied the opportunity to go to a local centre. Whilst the comments about lack of public transport were noted, these did not apply so much to the Eastgate Centre which did have public transport access
(9) It was difficult to justify the reason for the trees being destroyed. It did not feel that the applicant had taken this issue seriously. The application failed the sequential test
(10) The sequential test had been brought in by a previous conservative government. In addition, the traffic situation would be very bad and would require complete remodelling
(11) It would be difficult to get to the Eastgate Centre via bus from some parts of Bristol. This was a drive through facility and not generally the sort of place that people would travel to by public transport. The Committee should stick with the officer recommendation
(12) The loss of trees was significant, as was the failure of the sequential test
(13) The city centre should not always be seen as the main location for people to use as a shopping centre. There was a need to support small centres and to allow people to shop near where they live. However, the loss of trees was a cause for concern. It would be helpful if the applicant would consider changing the plan to avoid the destruction of trees
(14) There was no traffic mitigation which would damage air quality. The application should be opposed
(15) This facility would be an important local resource, particularly for people who did not drive.
Councillor Olly Mead moved and seconded by Councillor Mike Davies that “the application be refused in accordance with officers’ recommendations”. Upon being put to the vote, this was LOST (5 for, 5 against, 1 abstention), the Chair exercising his additional casting vote against the motion.
Councillor Richard Eddy moved, seconded by Councillor Harriet Bradley and, upon being put to the vote, it was Resolved (5 for, 4 against, 2 abstentions) that the application is brought back to a future Committee including conditions that could form part of a planning approval.
In responding to a Councillor’s question concerning the impact of this decision, officers confirmed that the application was undetermined. An appeal against non-determination was technically a possibility. Officers noted that the Committee had provided a clear steer on the issue of the sequential test which, whilst officers did not agree with, was a clear steer. The Committee had, however, raised concerns about the impact on the trees on the site which remained unresolved, and had not considered the highways issues that formed the third reason for refusal.