The representative of the Service Manager – Development Management made the following comments:
• The application was for temporary facilities and services from October 2018 to March 2019 and then for October 2019 to March 2020
• Local residents had been consulted on the proposal over a 3 week period
• The officers’ report reflected the fact that the site had been designated as a principal industrial and warehousing area. However, there were other material considerations since it is for temporary use and, therefore, will return to employment use once this period had expired
• The proposal was for emergency accommodation in an existing commercial building. Therefore, there were very limited internal alterations and no external alterations
• The surrounding area was situated in Flood Zone 3 and, therefore, a Flood Evacuation Plan needed to be in place
• There was access to the upper floor but no alterations would be made there
• There were no proposed alterations to the fabric of the building
• The existing showers would be retained
• The council’s ecologist had assessed the wooded area to the rear of the site and concluded that there would be no adverse impact
Officers responded to questions raised by Councillors as follows:
• There was a mixture of employment and residential properties near the site. All parties with a shared boundary with the site had been consulted as required and in addition some slightly further away
• Councillors’ frustration was noted concerning the lack of proactivity concerning consultation on housing matters. However, whilst planning officers were aware of many aspects of this part of the consultation (such as leaflet drops), this was an entirely separate process to the planning consultation
• Planning officers had assumed that at least two members of staff would be on site at all times
• Since the application was for temporary accommodation, there were minimum proposed internal alterations including ventilation for showers, the kitchen and toilets. This planning application was the first stage of the process – a dialogue would take place with the developers concerning building regulations in the event that the application was approved
• Councillors’ concerns were noted about the distance between the City Centre and the application site (2.6 Miles), as well as the fact that service users might try to get to the site on the off chance that a space is available and then find it difficult to travel back to the City Centre. Whilst Councillors might be minded to consider approving permission for 1 year and then revisiting the application, this would not be appropriate as the project was based on a 2 year period. The application needed to be considered on its own merits for a 2 year trial. The operation of the arrangements would be very largely dependent on the Management Plan which will allow the developer to address any lessons that are learnt and the interim report required by condition to reflect on the experience of the operation of the site. Ward Members would also be contacted on any feedback that they had received.
• In relation to pre-application consultation, with a major Planning application consultation with the community would be expected. However, since this falls well below the 1000 square metre requirement for this, the Planning Authority was not required to take any action in respect of this. However, some consultation had taken place. The National Planning Policy Framework required good consultation and needed this to be taken into account. It was up to the Committee to decide what weight to give this requirement in respect of this application
• Any difficulties which were raised in a Health and Safety survey would be the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive to resolve.
• There is a separate entrance into the mixed dormitory area
• Whilst members’ concerns were noted in relation to conflict with building users, this was not a planning issue and needed to be set to one side by Councillors in making their decision
• Councillors’ concerns were noted about fencing on site. Officers proposed that, in the event that the application was approved, the Committee gives officers delegated authority to discuss this issue with the developers
• The development was a considerable way from requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment. The advice of Bristol City Council’s ecologist had been sought on this issue
• The reference on page 38 stating that “The Planning quality requests” was indicating a suggestion from residents
• It was acknowledged that the reference to the ground floor in the material considerations on Page 42 could be misconstrued. Officers confirmed that the application was for partial use at St Annes House and would require no alterations at 1st Floor level
• The reference to Fire Escape Phase 2 on the plans was nothing to do with the hostel and not part of the application
• Officers noted a Councillor’s concern about the properties near Woodside Road being very close to the site. However, it was confirmed that these were fenced off and were outside the application site
• Officers noted Councillors’ concerns about housing issues on planning applications not being properly dealt with. However, officers were confident that the site management arrangements would work. Officers did propose that, in the event that the application was approved, condition 3 was strengthened to require production of the post occupation management report by 31st May 2019 rather than some time before October 2019. This would allow sufficient time for a full analysis prior to the re-opening of the hostel for 2019/20 period and effective engagement with the operators and Ward Members prior to this
• Officers noted Councillors’ concerns about the need for CCTV on site. Whilst this was a management issue, officers understood that the site was already covered by CCTV.
• Housing licensing issues were not the responsibility of the Planning Authority in respect of this application
Councillors made the following comments in respect of this application:
• Whilst it was clear that there was a homeless problem in Bristol and a need for a hostel of this kind, this site was not appropriate for this. The quality of consultation with neighbours by the developer was disappointing. Whilst there was a Management Plan in place, it required a great deal of hope in the operator to ensure it was properly implemented. In addition, the site was a considerable distance from the City Centre (2.6 Miles) which was not appropriate. The application should be opposed
• Public transport remained a concern in respect of this application. The location was badly connected with the rest of the city. However, it was easy to become homeless and it was unfair to perceive those in this situation as always dangerous. In addition, the pre-application consultation had been unsatisfactory.
• In the case of a previous application for a hostel in the city, residents had been very concerned but a lot of the anticipated problems did not materialise. Since this was not a permanent application, it should be supported
• Many of the concerns about this site had been allayed since it was for temporary and emergency purposes subject to officers looking at the issue of the fence with delegated authority by the Committee
• The location was a cause for concern. It was almost impossible to reach it through public transport and there was no reference as to how this would be dealt with
• Whilst transport was the major concern for this application, it was not sufficient to outweigh the need for it
• Residential properties were too close to the site. This had been a problem in a similar application for a hostel within the Frome Vale constituency. In addition, whilst many service users were homeless people who had fallen on hard times, some were drug addicts and there was a risk that they would continue to fund their habit on the site
• The Cabinet Member had recently visited the site. Whilst the transport concerns were noted, there was an urgent need for a hostel. This was a temporary application and badly needed
Councillor Olly Mead moved, seconded by Carla Denyer and, upon being put to the vote, it was
RESOLVED (Voting: 7 for, 2 against, 1 abstention): that the application be approved subject to the conditions set out in the report and also including the following:
(1) An additional condition requiring a Flood Evacuation Plan. Prior to the first occupation of the proposed use, the Applicants (or their successors) shall submit to and have approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority a Flood Evacuation Plan to confirm the means by which occupiers of the application site will evacuate in the event of a flood event.
Reason: To safeguard future residents from the impact of a future flood event.
(2) An alteration to Condition 3 as follows:
By 31st May 2019, the Applicants (or their successors) shall present a report to the Local Planning Authority setting out how the use has operated between 1st October 2018 and 31st March 2019. It shall include details of how many people have occupied the use, how much management has been in place and shall indicate whether there have been any complaints and how they have been addressed.
Reason: In order to determine whether any lessons need to be learnt for the second opening period (1st October 2019 to 31st March 2020).concerning the time of an assessment report for the first winter period that the temporary hostel is open to extend it until the end of May 2018
(3) Delegated authority to be given to officers to discuss the issue of fencing with the applicants