Agenda item

21/06762/F - Public Conveniences Circular Road Sneyd Park Bristol BS9 1ZZ

Demolition of existing public toilet block and construction of single storey building comprising café (use class E), education booth (use class F1[a]) and replacement public toilets (resubmission of planning permission 18/04727/F).



The Case Officer introduced the report, summarised it for everyone and gave a presentation.


The application is for the demolition of existing public toilet block and construction of single storey building comprising café (use class E), education booth (use class F1[a]) and replacement public toilets (resubmission of planning permission 18/04727/F).


The following answers were provided to questions:


  • Very little has changed since the previous application was approved; there have been some minor changes to the building; the Local Plan is the same as it was in 2019; there is no change to the recommendation to grant the application
  • The Planning Inspectorate Report of 24th September 2019 refers to the Common Land Consent, the first application was refused and the second application was granted in November 2020
  • The Council’s consultant advised that the application provides a net gain for biodiversity and that the proposal is acceptable; the calculations made are acceptable (It was noted that once the new Environment Act becomes law next year local authorities will be required to assess applications against criteria to establish whether or there is a net biodiversity gain. This application has been assessed in accordance with the present Policy.)
  • As very little has changed since the last application was granted, it would be an unusual decision to make if the Committee decided to refuse the application and such a decision may not stand up at an appeal
  • All three aspects of the application are linked it is considered unlikely that the toilets would be provided without the café; the café is the least ancillary part of the application, but could still be considered to be ancillary to the open space in question
  • The Downs Act and the Common Land Regulations are both non Planning Legislation
  • Each planning application has to be determined on its individual merits, one application does not set a precedent; the café is ancillary and it does not provide a green light for other development; the café passes the ancillary test; conservation relates to the character of an area not changing
  • The changes from the present building to the proposed building were illustrated; the proposed building is around double the size of the existing building
  • The Ecological Survey is available online and is summarised within the report
  • The applicant would be required to provide details of the lighting to be installed prior to construction; also the opening hours of the café do not extend into the evening so for the majority of the year the café will be closed during the hours of darkness
  • Although the new building will not be on the same footprint as the old building, its position was the subject of careful consideration and it was felt that on balance the proposal to locate it behind the tree line is the best position all things considered
  • The suggestion of an additional footpath may be subject to the provisions of the Downs Act if the requirement for a footpath became essential
  • The Educational Booth is not crucial to making the scheme viable, it is an additional benefit
  • There will be a reduction of one toilet to four from the number provided at present; the toilets will open 24 hours per day




  • Concerns about doubling the building’s footprint
  • The Downs is for all the people of Bristol and the surrounding areas; it will provide funding to maintain and improve The Downs; there is even more need for toilets than previously
  • There are public toilets already there; concerns about the café that although deemed ancillary, if permission is granted for it, that may encourage a larger café or restaurant in the future; also concerns that the trees there at present may not always be there
  • There are no material changes since the last application was granted; if refused BCC would probably lose an appeal; the Common Land issue has been resolved; the new facility will be an improvement on what is there at present; the café will fund the toilets; there will not be an increase in the number of people who visit The Downs; there are no grounds to refuse the application
  • There is a market for a café; the existing toilet block is poor
  • Do not want an increase in the number of people visiting The Downs; there is no proven need for a café
  • The public toilets are welcome as it would be an improvement on the existing building; but not convinced about the café


The recommendation to Grant subject to Conditions was moved and seconded, and on being put to the Vote it was LOST - voting 4 for, 5 against.


It was moved, seconded and on being put to the Vote it was


Resolved – (Voting 6 for, 2 against and 1 abstention) that a decision on the application be deferred until a future Meeting of the Committee pending Officers reporting back with further advice and, if appropriate, reasons for refusal on the issues of: biodiversity, change in footprint, the case for the education centre, and whether the development can be considered to be ancillary.


Supporting documents: