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Agenda item

Application Number 15/06400/F - Former Chocolate Factory, Greenbank Road, Easton Bristol BS5 6EL

Mixed use development comprising conversion of existing remaining buildings (labelled Blocks C, D and F) and erection of new buildings to provide: 135 dwellings (91 apartments; 44 houses) (Blocks A, B, D, E, F, G and terraces); 485 sq m Class B1 floorspace (Block D); 726 sq m of commercial floorspace (Use Class B1/A1/A2) (Blocks B and C); 332 sq m of flexible community/ business/health/leisure floorspace (Class B1/D1/D2) (Block C); 412 sq m flexible Class A3 or A4 floorspace (Block D); and associated accesses including a new pedestrian/cycle link onto the Railway Path, parking and landscaping (Major Application)


Members were reminded that this application had been deferred by the Development Control Committee (A) meeting on 30 November 2016, after concerns had been raised about the level of affordable housing provided on the site and the highway impacts with regard to parking and traffic. Two reasons for deferral had been put forward namely –


(A) Further consultation with local stakeholders about the need for more affordable housing on the site including discussions about:


(i) the possibility of a trade-off between the need for retaining the existing buildings

and provision of further affordable housing on the site;

(ii) further analysis of the viability appraisal reports used in the assessment process as appropriate;

(iii) negotiations with the developers about the mix of uses on site and potential flexibility with the site allocation policy;


(B) Further discussions with the developers about parking and traffic.


The Service Manager, Development Management explained that the Applicant had submitted an appeal against non-determination to the Planning Inspectorate including an application for costs against the Council. This meant that the application would now be decided by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government via the Planning Inspectorate. The Council was now required to put forward, to the Planning

Inspectorate, reasons on which the Planning application, would have been refused, if a decision had been taken by the DC (A) Committee. This would assist the Planning Inspectorate to assess the merits of the application and reach a decision on the Appeal.


The Committee was advised that having regard to the specific issues and conclusions raised at the November meeting (which included a detailed professional assessment of scheme viability) there would be no reasonable planning case to be made regarding refusal of this application on the viability of delivering additional affordable housing on the site or on parking and traffic grounds.


The Committee was strongly advised that it should now focus on limiting the Council’s potential financial exposure in this situation. Additional costs would be incurred in appointing consultants to prepare the Council’s written appeal statement and to prepare further evidence regarding viability. The Appellant would also prepare further evidence as a rebuttal to anything that the Council puts forward and, bearing in mind the existing application for costs, there was a high risk that the Council might have to cover all of the costs.


During the ensuing debate members of the Committee expressed their serious concern about the ‘Planning system’ that put the Council in a difficult position due to financial costs being awarded against it. Various ideas and suggestions were put forward by members in order to find an acceptable solution but it was ultimately realised that the law and policy as it currently stood barred any of the ideas from reaching an acceptable fruition.


It was recognised that this particular problem was a wider issue than this individual application and that policy relating to affordable housing and viability would have to be reviewed and significant changes made in order to mitigate the situation the Committee currently faced.


It was subsequently moved and seconded that if the Committee had the power to determine the Application that permission be granted.


On the motion being put to the vote there were 7 in favour and 3 against.


Resolved –


1. That if the Committee had the power to determine the application it would have

GRANTED planning permission, subject to the obligations (including the delivery of 6

affordable units) set out in the report to committee on 30th November 2016 and the associated Amendment Sheet, to be secured by an agreement or undertaking under s106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990, and all of the proposed conditions;


2. That the Head of Development Management be authorised to advise the Planning Inspectorate of this resolution and that the Council does not intend to defend the Appeal.


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