An addendum report together with the Amendment sheet was provided to the Committee in advance of the meeting, and published in the committee papers.
The Head of Development Management introduced the report:
a. The application was considered by committee on the 25th February and at that time it was resolved to defer the application to allow officers to prepare a further report setting out reasons for refusal.
b. The grounds given by committee for refusal were the issue of road safety; scale and massing and design; and impact on heritage assets.
c. Members were referred to the additional reports, marked as Addendum 10 and 10a(i); setting out key issues for further consideration; in the reports officers worked through the case for refusal on each of the grounds given in (b); considered which of the grounds would stand up to challenge if committee resolved to refuse the application; and explained why a combined reasons for refusal relating to design and impact on heritage assets was viewed as stronger than separating these reasons out and also that a reason for refusal on transport impacts would not be a robust reason.
d. Acknowledged the difference in the membership of the committee but gave reassurances that members had been provided with all reports and additional papers, together with the link to the previous broadcast to ensure all were fully informed to enable sound decision-making. Officers were happy to answer any questions about the proposals and could also show the previous presentation.
The Planning officer provided an overview of the plans and site layout, the following questions for clarification was posed:
e. Officers were asked what was meant by ‘standing up in an appeal’.
f. The Head of Development Management commented that where committee resolved to make a decision contrary to officers recommendation that could result in an appeal; that every effort was made to craft reasons that would substantiate the decision made and support the case when it was brought before the Planning Inspector. In particular, officers were keen to advise the Committee on reasons for refusal that could be substantiated and would not attract an award of cost against the Council.
g. The improvement in the public realm sat well with the overall aspiration of the City to shift the common mode of transport to cycling and public transport. The application would bring improvements to the safety of road users in the area.
h. Officers were asked to set out what process of consultation was undertaken by the applicant and officers.
i. The Service Manager advised that.
i. The UoB had engaged a service provider to lead on the consultation process and had exceeded expectation
ii. This had resulted in a citywide consultation process across digital platforms; a website set up on the project; stakeholder events and an extensive media exercise.
iii. The team had engaged with Stakeholders as set out in page 77 of the report.
iv. Over 300 comments had been received and fed into the process.
v. That consultation included the various institutions/education settings in the area with opposing views.
vi. That the duties to consult had been properly executed.
j. Cllr Eddy; accepted the case put that refusing on the transport grounds could not be substantiated and was happy to support refusal on the damage to heritage assets; that the design was overbearing, ugly and would dominate the area.
k. Cllr Mead; thanked the transport officers for setting out the position with the highways and road safety; that he was aware that the University has had a long standing issue with the library space; the issue with having a campus in the heart of a conservation area; that he would vote against as the design needed to be better and in keeping with the area.
l. Cllr Clarke; expressed his disappointed that the application was not approved at the last committee; noted the positive impact on the city on the proposed investment in the library to house art collections for the benefit of Bristol citizens; the development had the potential to have a marmite effect; liked the design and would support.
m. Cllr D Alexander; noted and accepted the explanation given by Officers clarification on the highway issues arising from the development; the build was imposing but for the right reasons as this was a new development that will be a landmark building; would support.
n. Cllr Hance; found the design concerning; accepted the benefits of the internal space and design of the build; that the university needed a library space; but considered the overall external design was not one she wanted to be associated with; would vote against.
o. Cllr Jackson; thanked the officers for all the reports and had viewed the committee debate on line; noted that the traffic concerns had been alleviated; agreed that the building would divide opinion but he was in favour of marmite; would support.
p. Cllr Khan; noted the officer explanation about the extent of the consultation; that the traffic issues had been alleviated in the subsequent reports; the building would be a landmark for future generation; accepted that facilities in the library would benefit students who need a place to study away from difficult living spaces; that the construction would have a positive stimulus impact on the economy follow the consequence of the pandemic; would support.
q. Cllr L Alexander; agreed that the university had a need for a new library building but looked to them to get the design right and would vote against.
r. Cllr Davies proposed Cllr Khan seconded, moving that the original officer’s recommendation to grant with conditions and subject to s106 agreement, presented on the 25th February be approved.
s. When put to the vote it was resolved:
a. Resolved (6 for; 4 against; 0 abstention)
b. That the original application presented to committee with officer’s recommendation on the 25th February, with conditions and those set out with a S106 agreement in the Amendment Sheet be granted.