After a firm kick up the backside from new Lib Dem transport supremo, Jon Rogers, council officers have finally published the long-awaited Railway Path consultation.
And what a result! It’s General Public 6 Red Trousered Developers 0.
Here’s the consultation’s entirely predictable conclusions in full:
The key outcomes were:
o That green, open space should be preserved.
o That the wildlife corridor, in particular the hedgerow, should be protected.
o That the regeneration of the former Elizabeth Shaw factory site should take place within the existing boundary and that the Bristol and Bath Railway Path should stay in the public domain.
o That the individual accesses to the cycle houses are flawed with concerns about safety risks; changing character of path; de facto private gardens; impact on existing natural environment; security risks.
o The importance of Bristol as a ‘Cycling City’ and the need to protect cycle routes.
o Concern that land sale would set a precedent.
In conclusion, although there is general support for the regeneration of the former Elizabeth Shaw factory site the majority of those participating in the consultation felt that the development should be contained within the original footprint of the factory site and the Bristol and Bath Railway Path should stay in the public domain.
The majority of individual respondents and groups/organisations felt that plot 1 should not be sold although there were some suggestions for a compromise solution with partial development. A greater majority felt that plot 2 should not be leased particularly for individual access points – many respondents felt that these were unnecessary to the development. There was, however, some agreement to provide an access across plot 2 to the square, café and other facilities.
Meanwhile the council officers’ lame excuses to Rogers for not publishing the consultation earlier look even lamer.
“We accepted questionnaires until two weeks after the closing date as quite a number were still coming in,” they explained.
Then they claimed, “we inputed those questionnaire ourselves rather than paying someone, as we were getting criticism for spending too much money on the consultation – this has taken longer as it’s been additional work on top of people’s heavy workloads.”
But wait! The report says there were only 33 questionnaire responses sent in by post. So even if they had all arrived after the closing date, it’s hardly a major task to get them entered into a database is it?
Was there another reason for this delay? Maybe related to Square Peg’s desperate efforts – with the full help and support of David Bishop’s fawning planning department – to get planning permission granted on the land last month prior to the consultation’s publication?
Although this eventually got delayed until 1 April – ho, ho! – by the planning committee after Ferguson proposed building just 6% affordable housing – rather than the required 30% – in his development for snooty people.
But don’t go expecting this latest overwhelming victory to campaigners to be the end of the controversy just yet. For starters, Ferguson will no doubt soon be bleating and blackmailing, claiming the development will be unable to go ahead unless he’s given the right to trash the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.
Then there’s the small matter of who now takes the final decision on the – still – undecided land sale. The council is claiming the decision now rests with their deeply unreliable property and finance senior officer Carew Reynell, while the Parks Forum claim they were told that the decision would be made by the council’s Parks and Green Spaces Strategy Board.
Even now, at this late stage, this one is still up and running …