At this point Councillor Windows left the meeting. This left 10 Committee members to vote on this item.
1. The Head of Development Management introduced this item. This was the second time it was before Committee and since then the Committee membership had changed. On 16 May 2018 the Committee had made no decision and asked that it be brought back with conditions that could form part of an approval, which, in effect, was a deferral and the application remained undetermined. The report before this Committee provided those conditions and included the previous Committee report for information. The sequential test was a key issue and the Committee’s clear views in May were shown in the minutes. As individual members, it was important to have regard to these views but no decision was made so members were not bound by the comments. In order to make a fully informed decision legal colleagues recommended that the previous public forum be circulated to the Committee and this was done;
2. Councillor Davies asked whether the content of the previous minutes would be used at appeal if the application was refused today for the sequential test reason and was informed that the previous meeting’s discussion would be raised in any appeal as the minutes were a public record but this should not fetter the ability of members to make a decision on that basis;
3. The report now before the Committee also provided an additional assessment regarding trees and highway safety. The Committee was advised to give the appropriate weight to the previous discussion and reach a decision on that basis;
4. The Committee was informed that this was an application for an extension to an existing row of retail units comprising two fast food outlets and one retail unit, with service access at the rear. This would require the moving of a zebra crossing west along Eastgate Road. The existing drive-thru restaurant would also be moved further forward from its current position.
5. Objections regarding the removal of the Oak tree near Burger King were received when the first application to extend the retail park was submitted last year. As a result, this tree would be retained. A number of trees along Eastgate Road would be felled with the exception of one Poplar and one Ash tree;
6. The classification of Eastgate as a Local District Centre was not supported when the Bristol Core Strategy was drafted as retail centres should be truly accessible for all modes of transport as well as principal locations for shopping, community facilities, local entertainment, art and cultural facilities. . The Eastgate Centre is essentially just shops designed to be accessible for carborne shoppers and was therefore different in nature from Gloucester Road or the City Centre. The site had been restricted to the sell of 50% bulky goods and white goods, however, open, unrestricted A1 sales across the whole of Eastgate centre was granted by a Committee in September 2016 despite the officer recommendation to refuse.
7. This application had attracted 15 objections concerning traffic, air quality and loss of trees; no comments in support were received.
8. The key issue was whether the principle of retail development passed the sequential test as set out in the NPPF. This would require no alternative sites to be suitable and available in existing centres and the officer’s view was that this test had not been met as there were sites available in the City Centre and Fishponds. This was a similar argument to the one officers had used in objecting to the expansion of Cribbs Causeway.
9. Off-site contributions had been offered for the loss of woodland but there were no policy reasons to allow this loss of important green infrastructure.;
10. The moving of the zebra crossing presented a risk of pedestrian / cycle / vehicle collisions . A rail was proposed but pedestrians might hop over it to cross and this was a clear safety issue that officers could not support;
11. In summary, there was a clear case for the scheme to be refused for the following reasons:-
Ø Unacceptable in principle as it is not in a designated retail centre and fails the ‘sequential test’;
Ø Highway safety;
Ø Loss of trees.
12. Councillor Stevens noted the restrictions of certain goods offered by the applicant but stated that local residents wanted a community facility that sold these items;
13. Councillor Clarke noted the applicant’s QC’s view on the Sequential test which stated that all the proposed development had to be able to be accommodated on one site. He was informed that the LPA’s QC stated that it depended on the circumstances of the case and referred to paragraph 24 of the NPPF which talks about the need to demonstrate flexibility on issues such as format and scale.. Officers were confident it was up to the LPA to interpret the policy and it had been correctly done;
14. The Head of Development Management stated that should the Cribbs Causeway argument fall at appeal it could have an effect on this retail argument but the Committee should not determine this application on that basis;
15. Councillor Brook was satisfied with the officers’ reasons for refusal;
16. Councillor Carey stated that the site was designed for car access and this application would reduce car parking spaces whilst attracting more cars;
17. Councillor Mead was concerned for the loss of green infrastructure and bird habitats and the moving of the zebra crossing which was a safety hazard;
18. Councillor Davies supported the officers’ reasons for refusal and to take the opportunity to uphold the Council’s own policies;
19. Councillor Stevens highlighted the need to protect the City Centre and provide amenities but this was not acceptable. He shared the concern for the moving of the zebra crossing and would support the officer recommendation;
20. Councillor Breckels was concerned about undermining the Council’s policy at Cribbs Causeway, wished to protect Broadmead and was against the loss of the trees so would vote for the officer recommendation;
21. Councillor Davies moved the officer recommendation and this was seconded by Councillor Stevens. On being put to the vote it was:-
RESOLVED (Unanimously) – That the application be refused for the following reasons:-
1. ThePlanning,RetailandEconomicAssessmentsubmittedwiththeapplicationfailsto satisfy the requirementsofthesequentialtestas setoutin the NationalPlanningPolicy FrameworkandDM7of theBristolLocalPlan,as therearesequentiallypreferable,suitable and available alternativeswithin Bristol City Centre and FishpondsTown Centre.
2. Theproposalwouldresultintheunjustifiedlossofgreen infrastructureandas suchis contrary to the provisionsofpolicies BCS9 and DM17 ofthe Bristol LocalPlan.
3. Theproposedre-locationof thezebracrossingon EastgateRoadwouldresultinadverse impactson the riskofvehicle/pedestrian/cyclecollisionsandisconsidered unacceptable.As such the proposal is contrarytopoliciesBCS10 and DM23 oftheBristol Local Plan.