RED TROUSERGATE: Bishop proposing multi-million public money favour to ol' Red Trousers!

Despite Bristol City Council officers still quite deliberately failing to take a decision regarding the sale of our protected public park land to developers Square Peg (Blogger passim), the controversial Chocolate Factory development planned on the land at Greenbank is back before the Development Control (South and East) Committee on 1 April.

The decision on this planning permission was deferred by the Development Control (South and East) Committee meeting on February 18 because there was no S.106 planning obligations package properly in place.

An S. 106 agreement basically lays out how much a developer is going to spend on roads, traffic calming and public infrastructure – including affordable housing – and is therefore of significant interest, value and benefit to the public.

Here’s what Ferguson and Square Peg originally signed up to deliver as part of the development last year:

• Between 10 and 30% affordable housing
• Approximately 25% of the commercial floorspace to be managed workspace, (see below for definition)
• Provision of community space within Building 6
• A contribution of £210,000 towards improvements to highway infrastructure and sustainable transport
• A contribution of £721,134 towards education facilities
• A contribution of £58,212 towards library facilities
• A contribution of £514,943.35 towards public open space
• Provision of an on site car club
• Provision of a Travel Plan
• Provision of Public Art
• Provision of a Landscaping scheme

And here’s what they’re now proposing to deliver this year:

• 10% affordable housing (a total of 25 units including a variety of unit types and tenures)
• Approximately 25% of the commercial floorspace to be managed workspace
• Provision of community space within Building 6.
• A contribution of £50,000 towards improvements to highway infrastructure and sustainable transport
• A contribution of £40,000 towards public open space
• Provision of an on site car club
• Provision of a Travel Plan
• Provision of Public Art
• Provision of off-site Landscaping schemes

This means that Ferguson and his Merchant Venturer gang – who only really want to build housing for wealthy snobs anyway – are proposing to deprive the city of up to 50 units of much-needed affordable housing; £160,000 of the money needed to get the roads up to scratch to handle the development; £720,000 worth of educational facilities they can’t be bothered with (that’s enough to go a long way towards a new primary school concerned parents please note); no money toward a library and a lot less than a tenth of the amount required to sort out public open space around their tower blocks that will cover the current open space.

The Blogger’s back-of-a-fag-packet calculation says this adds up to around £1.4m worth of improvements we were promised by Ferguson that won’t be delivered.

And remember, some of these improvements have to happen. If Ferguson and Square Peg ain’t paying the bill for highways improvements then we are.

So Ferguson and Square Peg are havin’ a laugh aren’t they? Not according to David Bishop’s planning department they’re not. Planning officers say, “an approval based on the planning obligations package offered by the applicant can be supported.”

Yes it will be supported. By us the council taxpayer forking out over a million quid to subsidise a bunch of multi-millionaire developers pulling a fast one.

Is this report an April fool?

Bishop and his planning team’s justification for this multi-million pound council tax giveaway to some of Bristol’s wealthiest men appears to be contained in a section of the committee report entitled ‘Viability Appraisal’.

This long piece of jargon-rich, tortured prose – being presented to what should be a non-specialist committee – probably breaks just about every rule of plain english the council claims to uphold. Here’s a sample:

Taking a pure approach the residual valuation would allow for a positive value to be realised for the site before the site was deemed unviable. However, to take a reasonable approach and having considered other Bristol sites where some kind of an element of “Enabling Value” is required to bring it forward, the Council’s team have modelled this in reflection of similar sites where there was only redevelopment value. While this level is not agreed by the applicant we have had to make a reasonable value judgment based on other sites in a similar position to arrive at a base value. This followed the fact that both parties agreed that the price paid is not considered relevant to the process which is confirmed in the Council’s Affordable Housing Practice Note (AHPN).

I wonder what it means? And more to the point, do the councillors on the Development Control (South and East) Committee know what it means?

After all, they wouldn’t go making a decision on the basis of a report they didn’t understand … Would they?

This entry was posted in Bristol, Bristol and Bath Railway Path, Bristol East, CONsultants, Developments, Easton, Environment, Housing, Local government, Merchant Venturers, Planning, Politics, Transport and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to RED TROUSERGATE: Bishop proposing multi-million public money favour to ol' Red Trousers!

  1. To be quite honest BB, I suspect that the members of the Development Control (South and East) Committee aren’t able to read this… they probably aren’t able to read… it’s not necessary in their job!

    All they have to do is listen to the nice council officer, and do as they’re told. Council officers know best, they wouldn’t mislead now would they? If councillors started to really look at what was going on, then things might get difficult… they might even have to make decisions.

  2. thebristolblogger says:

    Well it’ll be quite something if they take these so-called planning officers advice on this one.

    The east-central Bristol area – where the development’s proposed – is right at the centre of the primary admissions crisis. There ain’t enough primary school places there.

    And all the parties have just agreed to work together to resolve this.

    So surely an all-party committee isn’t going to wave through a development that was supposed to deliver £0.7m for educational facilities in the area but now isn’t?

    Where do these “planners” think the children living on their “sustainable development” are going to go to school?

    Will they all be going private?

  3. Maybe they’re assuming that the new residents won’t have any children… just like they’ve assumed that there will be no more than 1 car per household… and just like they assume that people with money will pay to live jammed in like sardines… like they assumed that they could build on land they didn’t own… and like they assumed that the greenies of Easton would be so taken by the sight of Gorgeous George in his fetching red trousers, that they’d be simply gagging to be shafted by him and his cohorts.

  4. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Since when was there any mention of “a twenty-bed youth hostel/hotel”?

  5. Holly says:

    What a line up for the Development Control (South and East) Committee on 1st April 2009: star acts – George Furguson and Lord Jafari. BCC should be selling tickets for this event! These are two property developers with completely opposite methods of developing property within Bristol, with both proclaiming to operate under the green banner. The fun begins at 2pm at the Council House, College Green. I wonder if there will be clowns too?

  6. inks says:

    “I wonder what it means?”

    I think it means that Ferguson overpaid for the land and that Bristol Council are asking for an “Enabling Value” which at current property values will put the development into deficit.

  7. snafu says:

    It is squarepig that eagerly overpaid. Unless mr redpants is an sp shareholder or the mystery benefactor who has now stepped into the breach, he is ok as the commissioned architect. He is clearly sad for steve storey though.

  8. chris hutt says:

    “Since when was there any mention of “a twenty-bed youth hostel/hotel”?” MW

    That’s one of the elements that they’ve played down. It’s the 7 storey block that will tower over the Railway Path, just a few metres away.

  9. Get out says:

    Yeh, last thing we want is “youths” using the cycle path. Dont they know IT’S OURS! It’s not for plebs to enjoy. Having rightly prevented buses going down the path, we must next make sure that as few others as possible come and intrude on us.

  10. snafu says:

    Get out!

    What are you on about? Loads of youths constantly use the path every day, along with all kinds of people.

    Tower blocks are the issue here, and will just spoil the path for everyone.

  11. Get out says:

    Really? How exactly will a “tall” youth hostel “spoil the path for everyone”? The fact that it’s tall will mean it has more people in. The fact that it’s next to the cycleway will mean it encourages them all to cycle there.

    I’m obviously not as smart as all you super-environmentalists, but it seems to me that building a cycle-focused development next to a nice cycle-path is a great way to get “ordinary” people more involved in cycling and promote the concept of cycle-based living.

    Of course, I used to think I was an environmentalist for believing in promoting cycle-based living – but now it’s clear to me that, actually, believing that makes me an evil corporate stooge. Ah well. Maybe it’s not worth the bother…

  12. Rosso Verde says:

    Get out,

    In what way does the proposed development really promote the concept of cycle-based living? – looks like a lot of Greenwash to me!

    Lots more properties and lots more cars for Greenbank, even the few so -called “cycle houses” still feature garages presumably for cars.

    The 10% affordable housing level is really pitiful for an area like Easton – which, I think, has the dubious honour of being the most deprived ward in Bristol.

    I do wonder if all these proposals will come to nothing in the end, as the economic depression hits?

  13. To many local residents, who have learned the hard way what consultation exercises really mean, it looks increasingly as though BCC decided what they wanted years ago, and have stage managed events since then to achieve their desired end. The campaign against Persimmon’s bid was “facilitated” to use council speak, to a great extent by a BCC planning officer, who was at the time seconded to BEST (half of her wages were paid by BEST, half by BCC). I seem to remember that it was she who first raised the name of old Red Keks himself at a meeting of the Easton Neighbourhood Management planning group, and organised a visit to the Tobacco Factory. She expertly put together the documents that were used against Persimmon when they appealed their planning refusal. Now, we find other BCC officers cheer-leading for old Red Keks and his chum Steve Storey. Keen students of council behaviour, such as your good selves, will not be remotely surprised to hear this, after all, we live in Bristol where this sort of thing is par for the course.

    Now, events seem to be taking another ominous turn. Having failed with their previous CONsultation, the council is taking a leaf out of Sustrans’ book, and, if some locals are to be believed, they have had a pair of flunkies walk along the path, asking folk at random what they think of the path, especially in relation to green areas alongside the path etc. Doubtless this is paid for out of our council tax, doubtless, if, as usual, it turns up a set of answers that don’t fit the desired outcome, any info they gather will be filed in the fucking bin!

    So what are they plotting next?

  14. Bristol Dave says:

    still feature garages presumably for cars.

    Rubbish, this is England. They’re for storing lawnmowers, bicycles, an old sofa that you can’t be bothered to sell and a chest freezer.

  15. Gary Hopkins says:

    Rosso Verde
    Easton ward is far from being the most deprived ward in Bristol. Within the ward the Greenbank side is also comparatively”privilidged”.

  16. BristleKRS says:

    Any chance Gary can take over the edukashun brief? I think he’d be a natcherawl.

    PS It is not uncommon for ‘privileged’ districts to contain ‘deprived’ wards, and vice versa.

  17. BristleKRS says:

    Hmmm, I think I used ‘not uncommon’ a little too gauchely there. Perhaps ‘not unknown’ would be more accurate.

  18. “…uncommon for ‘privileged’ districts to contain ‘deprived’ wards”

    Excuse me, my ward is not deprived… it is depraved though.

  19. Rosso Verde says:

    For statistics here’s the BCC websight:
    Gary is correct that Easton isn’t the most deprived Ward – its Easton the place which includes part of Lawrence Hill ward.

  20. snafu says:

    The council’s is full of statistics isn’t it.

    “The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004 (IMD 2004) brings all the indices together to produce an overall picture of deprivation.

    … According to the IMD, the most deprived Super Output Area (SOA) in the (sw) region is part of Lawrence Hill ward in Bristol. This is ranked as the 19th most deprived in England and as the most deprived SOA(109) outside the north of England.

    Much of the South West areas is polarised in terms of deprivation, with most areas being either end of the deprivation scale…”

    The 2008 easton ward profile shows the st marks ed area as ranked 33 out of 252 sub-areas of bristol, where 1 is most deprived. This does put it in the 10% most deprived areas in england.

    Can’t see this project improving anything.

  21. Green eyed monster says:

    Snafu said that “The 2008 easton ward profile shows the st marks ed area as ranked 33 out of 252 sub-areas of bristol, where 1 is most deprived. ”

    Two points:

    1) The St. Marks Rd area is not Greenbank though it is nearby

    2) If you build more low cost housing the area will stay relatively poor – that’s the point!

    Ideally if we want to reduce social division in Bristol you WOULD build houses for people who are more likely to spend their disposable income in the area. Equally you’d probably build more affordable or social housing in Clifton, Stoke Bishop, and Redland.

    Some people posting on this site seem to want to keep poor areas poor. Face if, there ain’t going to be the 1917 style revolution you all dream about! Its about building homes for people.

  22. woodburner says:

    What’s this “youth hostel” then? is it just a euphamism for a hostel for homeless/ex-offenders/drug addicts etc, of which there are already loads in the Eastville/Fishponds areas.
    Let’s have hostels in Clifton and Redland – or preferably convert Jafari’s Downleaze HQ into a super hostel for the terminally antisocial…

  23. Wealthy Snob says:

    Easton is the new Clifton. I’ll be moving in

  24. snafu says:

    Get out – you seem to be missing the point. Many “ordinary people” already do cycle. The trick to getting more people to cycle is not to damage the amenity of the present bristol-bath path even further (it has already been degraded bit by bit for the last fifteen years or so). Nor is it to increase numbers of people using this one path, as it is already becoming overcrowded, with consequent inevitable increases in accidents and aggression.

    The key to increasing cycling is to set aside A LOT MORE ROUTES dedicated to cycling. Increasing walking is also important, and we need more routes dedicated to walking. Since space is being squeezed ever tighter, and we know we want to decrease carbon emissions and fight obesity by getting people out of sitting down in their cars and up and getting exercise and fresh air, the obvious thing to do is to cut down the space currently gobbled up by cars and put it to better use as walking and cycling routes.

    As well as such basic commonsense, easton is already one of the most overcrowded areas in bristol, with terrible pressure on all local amenities, including parks, greenspaces and schools (as recognised in bristol blogger’s post here) and this is recognised by the local councillor and many other local people who are very worried about the overcrowded nature of this development and the additional stresses it will bring to the area.

    Ge monster – 1, read the previous comments by rosso verde and gary hopkins again. The area under discussion is easton ward – hence my comment.

    2, revolutions??? what are you on? Nulabour style social engineering to try and mix up all the classes and eliminate social diversity is a dismal failure. Most people in east bristol don’t want to be like those in clifton, redland or bishopston, any more than people in south bristol want to become gasheads. People just want a place to live at a cost we can afford, near our family and friends, where we grew up. A good start on this would be to bring back into full use property that is currently underutilised, not build a load of overpriced flats.

  25. Green eyed monster says:

    Snafu said “Most people in east bristol don’t want to be like those in clifton, redland or bishopston” – I agree!

    But I remember a time when Bishopston wasn’t considered posh, and flats in Clifton were rented out cheap (or even squatted). Redland was full of large houses, not flats. The point is areas change gradually as new homes are built.

    Flats were built on former factory premises in Victoria Ave (also in Easton Ward) 20 years ago. These are not some ‘yuppie ghetto’ are they?

    Oh and as for the old chestnut about hostels, remember the main men’s probation hostel in Bristol is in solidly middle class Kingsdown.

  26. chris hutt says:

    We’re told that the hotel/hostel will not be that (probation) sort of hostel, which would require Planning Permission under a different classification.

    However one has to wonder about the viability of a budget hotel in Easton. I think they imagine it appealing to cycle tourists using the Railway Path but they are relatively few in number and very seasonal. I would have thought tourists of any description would prefer to be in the heart of the city.

    So what happens if the hotel/hostel fails commercially? Would it not have to be converted to some other use? Studio flats or offices perhaps?

  27. TonyD says:

    In reference to a budget hotel in Easton – there are also ongoing plans to build a budget hotel as part of the Bristol Rovers stadium re-development at Horfield. However, one of the reasons for the failure to find adequate funding for the Rovers redevelopment is that no-one appears to be keen to sign up for the hotel (or, of course, the student accomodation).

    I wondered before who would use a budget hotel with limited parking at the Rovers ground – I wonder even more for a budget hotel in Easton.

    It sounds like one of those ideas that look good as a way of making the development look more “mixed-use” and thus appealing to planning officers but in reality…….

  28. chris hutt says:

    Quite Tony. I’ve no doubt that an alternative use is pencilled in for when the hotel concept fails.

  29. Sceptic says:

    Hotels in Easton? What next? Eurostar services from Stapleton Road station?

    Ferguson, senior council officers and their ilk may live in a world of artist’s impressions. The rest of us have to cope with the grubby, tarnished reality they’ve actually produced.

  30. BristleKRS says:


    Ferguson, senior council officers and their ilk may live in a world of artist’s impressions. The rest of us have to cope with the grubby, tarnished reality they’ve actually produced

    …pretty much sums up Bristol 2009 for me.

    Cheers, Sceptic!

  31. snafu says:

    “What next? Eurostar services from Stapleton Road station?”

    Why not “greenbank sustainable heliport” on handy packers field?

    Easton – tomorrow’s destination today!

  32. “What next? Eurostar services from Stapleton Road station?”

    “Why not “greenbank sustainable heliport” on handy packers field?”

    Sceptic & snafu, will the two of you please shut the fuck up? Don’t you both realise that some BCC officer paraphiliacs are probably falling about in fits of wanking at this very moment?

    The thought of such glorious new projects as these is simply irresistable.

  33. TonyD says:

    My comment about “mixed-use” having appeal for planning officers also applies to councillors it seems.

    Cllr Emma Bagley (Lockleaze, Lib Dems) said: “It’s a really good design, I’m really for mixed use.” in the BEP today.

  34. Get out says:

    Oh, mixed use is bad now in the Green pantheon is it? Jees, it never takes long, does it…

  35. TonyD says:

    Get out

    “Mixed use” can be good when it really is mixed use providing residential, community, business or leisure opportunities to supply demand in the local area. When it is used as window dressing to provide easily pleased individuals with an excuse to approve a flawed development it is not good. I would have thought that was part of the common-sense pantheon rather than Green.

    Presumably you consider the concept of a budget hotel in Easton as a well-thought out proposal meeting an existing demand.

    Feel free to provide evidence of a demand for budget hotel accomodation in the Easton area as I appear to have missed it. I just haven’t seen many tourists or business people walking along, for example, Greenbank Road saying “oh, if only there was a cheap hotel nearby”

    Now I have to go because the thought of all those cows in Stoke Park has given me an urge for a burger (oops, sorry I mean lentil casserole, forgot me stereotype for a moment)

  36. snafu says:

    Tonyd, yes exactly. It’s no use anyone having a knee-jerk reaction to things and just following fashion as ceratin people appear to be doing, or so it would appear from their quoted comment. Judging each case on its merits, taking all the evidence available, and as objectively as humanly possible is the ideal, surely?

    And, yes the cowfart saga only made me want to taste the maybe soon to be forbidden fruit too. We and probably most of the rest of ep readers. Goal!

  37. Get out says:

    Ah, OK, I think I’m getting it now: things like “mixed use” and “promoting sustainable travel” are only good things if they are attached to a project that you approve of. If they are attached to a project that you dont approve of then those things are purely cynical attempts by the corporate kleptocracy to “greenwash” projects past the public.

    I see… and this makes sense of course because it is only your opinion that matters, and therefore alternative viewpoints are not simply wrong, they are actually deliberate and cynical attempts to confuse others.

    Right, got it now – thanks all!

  38. TonyD says:

    Get Out,

    I repeat, convince me that the concept of a budget hotel in Easton is a valid idea that will meet existing or potential demand and you may convince me that this is really an attempt to provide a mixed use development rather than an exercise in using the words “mixed use” to gain approval, much like some throw in the word “sustainable” to add green credibility to their particular project.

    My opinion is no more important than yours, and I am quite willing to change my opinion if you provide a reasoned argument rather than simply throwing your toys out of the pram because I asked you a question that you are unable to answer honestly without undermining your own point of view.

  39. Uncle George says:

    Get out – thanks!

    Your cheque is in the post!
    Don’t let the local riff raff get their way old bean! How dare they question my right as a Merchant Venturer to do exactly what I want!

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