Red alert! Planning gain games

More on the Bristol City Stadium saga …

This weekend found the Cancer merrily spinning away for City chairman Steve Lansdowne with a generous little page 3 hagiography on his ascent up the Sunday Times Rich List while their ‘star’ columnist George Ferguson chipped in with a typical piece of namedropping cum brown nosing:

I think Tony [Robinson], a great Bristol City supporter, would agree with me that the smiley Steve Lansdown has greatly raised our spirits south of the river with his enthusiastic chairmanship and championing of the new stadium project.

Yuck. Pass the sick bucket …

But while the Cancer continues to uncritically talk up Lansdown, further news emerges about his efforts to build his new football stadium on greenbelt land with the assistance of the Merchant Venturers and, it now seems, with other large interests drifting quietly in to view.

Although, naturally, at this early stage of proceedings the vague promises and philanthropic proposals are rolling in thick and fast.

Lansdown has almost certainly been in touch with council planning officers who have done little to dispel rumours that the stadium project will provide one of the largest planning gain (Section 106 agreements) deals Bristol has ever seen to help smooth Lansdown’s way through our greenbelt.

This might – and the word here is might – include things like a major contribution to the unpopular and technically poor BRT scheme touted for Winterstoke Road as well as contributions to other traffic measures like the proposed 20mph zone.

Although when Lansdown first floated the idea of a move to a new stadium, one of the larger “carrots” waved in front of council planning officers was that the existing Ashton Gate site could be made available for housing (towards the Regional Spatial Strategy targets) and education.

Especially identified has been a replacement for Ashton Gate Primary School, which has been described as having some of the worse structural problems in the entire city.

This was position, at least, at around December 2007 when the publication of the council’s Primary School Review (pdf) stated that South Bristol, and in particular the South 1 area including Ashton Gate Primary, would come under pressure for school places.

This promotion of the redevelopment of Ashton Gate stadium for housing and education seems to have continued until July 2008.

Indeed on 2 July 2008 the Ashton Gate governors described their school as being “designed for another century” and that redevelopment “on our current site would require some imaginative architecture and clever engineering, if possible at all – not to mention significant funding”.

However, this coincided with downturn in the housing market, which casts serious doubt on the viability of selling the stadium site for residential development let alone including provision for a school.

As a result there’s been a noticeable shift away from providing a new school.

And fancy this! Just a few weeks later, on 17 July 2008, in a response to the Primary School Review, the chairman of governors of Ashton Gate Primary said that they didn’t want to move to a new build site 1/2 a mile away (at the stadium site)!

Apparently they had been advised by a well-known local architect that, despite the ruinous state of the existing school and despite the obvious constraints of the site, it was more than capable of being adapted to provide a modern teaching environment and that much of the funding for this could come from Section 106 funding from other projects that the architect was involved in in the area.

And, in any case, the school governors did not now believe that new build was the right solution for them.

Convenient, eh?

And the chairman of the governors at Ashton Gate Primary? No less than the area’s former Labour councillor Matthew “Dummy” Symonds.

And the well-known architect? Step forward George Ferguson!

Well, well, well. It rather looks like a major planning gain deal of significant value and huge public interest – the kind you might expect to be negotiated directly between developers and Bristol City Council – is now being put together by an unelected member of the Bristol Labour Party and a Merchant Venturer.

Who needs local councillors and their planning officers fighting your corner when you can have an unelected failed politician do it for you? And why bother dealing with developers when a mouthy architect is on hand to make promises he’s in no position to actually deliver?

Meanwhile the fact that this “Dummy” Symonds/Ferguson carve up possibly chimes perfectly with the requirements of Mr Lansdown in the new financial landscape he’s confronting is no doubt purely coincidental.

Now, not rebuilding this school on a decent site may certainly suit Mr Ferguson, the pro-business Bristol Labour Party and their unusual choice in wealthy friends, but is it in the best interests of the people of Southville, especially parents?

In fact perhaps they should take a very careful look at Mr Ferguson’s role in the Chocolate Factory development at Greenbank (Blogger passim).

Here too Mr Ferguson spent many years prior to any building work making grandiose promises regarding planning gain for the community. Eventually concrete figures of 30% affordable housing were touted around. As was a sum of £700k for education; £210k towards highways improvements; £60k for a library and over £0.5m for public open space.

But alas, come the planning permission meeting all these proposals and figures were quietly ditched. Instead, all Greenbank ended up with was a measly 20-odd affordable homes and a wood chip heating system costed at £1.5m that was touted by Ferguson, city councillors and planning officers as a public benefit.

Surely this couldn’t happen in Southville?

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69 Responses to Red alert! Planning gain games

  1. chris hutt says:

    A familiar story to those of us who followed the exposure of the backroom deals behind the Chocolate Factory – Red Trouser Gate saga. So what shall we call this new scandal unfolding before us – Ashton Gate?

  2. Yeah right… and, as you’ve raised the subject of Red Trousergate, weren’t we supposed to hear the decision regarding the immoral, and probably illegal sell off of public land before the end of the month?

    If so, it’s the 29th today, and April only has 30 days on my calendar… maybe BCC have decided to re-order the calendar a la Julius Caeser… that’d be a way round the problem.

  3. Bigwok says:

    Rummour on the grape vine is that they are investigating retail development on the Ashton Gate site. Given the current climate, residential development won’t have as high a value.

    Not sure people will really love a shiney new Tesco!

  4. paul smith says:

    AIUI there is a three party agreement to support the stadium relocation as part of a bid for world cup status for Bristol in the FA 2018 bid

  5. chris hutt says:

    Football World Cup? – It’s all part of the incestuous system by which out-dated restraints on development like Green Belts are undermined and finally swept away. What politician would dare speak out against football – Green Paul?

  6. overayard says:

    I wonder who is the executive member?

  7. The Bristol Blogger says:

    The green belt is certainly a restraint on development. But outdated?

    That’s the debate that we need to have and politicians should be leading it. Not kow-towing to the wealthy at any cost.

    As for the world cup. We’re starting out on the greatest recession in living memory. Is it a priority?

    Our leaders still seem to be in a mindset from 5 years ago.

  8. chris hutt says:

    Not to mention the Olympics. Just what we need when we have to repay massive government debts, more debts.

  9. woodsy says:

    there is a three party agreement to support the stadium relocation as part of a bid for world cup status for Bristol in the FA 2018 bid

    They DO live in a fantasy world down the Counts Louse don’t they?

    Sometimes I think they’ve gone down the other leg of the space-time trousers to the rest of the universe.

  10. Bigwok says:

    I’m sure we have all seen this before, developer starts from lofty position in terms of schemes supposed benefit, to ultimately justify inadequate community gain package!

    I can hear the crys of we can’t afford the transport improvements for ashton gate, or funding to provide adequate school facilities but its world cup football!

    All party support, the Council are already on board, Greenbelt will be brushed aside with the publication of the RSS in the summer. When just wait for instant submission of the planning applications for the football club and redevelopment of ashton gate. Both agreed will minimal S106 ala Elizabeth Shaw, which was frankly disgusting in not addressing it own impacts.

  11. snafu says:

    Lofty parallels with great historical figures are fully merited.

    I would like to think that Bristol could follow the example set by Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in naming a central area after Richard Grainger, its builder and developer.

    Newcastle has Grainger Town.

    Could Southville be renamed Fergusonville, as a fitting tribute from a grateful people?

  12. paul smith says:

    Surely we should rename Redland Redtrouserland

  13. Get out says:

    The “not one blade of grass” greenbelt fundamentalists miss the point. Look at the land there down in Ashton Vale (and I mean the bit close to Bristol, not way up Dundry slopes where the “urban extension” is wanting to stretch to) – it’s less than 2 miles from the city centre, on 2 major transport routes and 2 railway lines. It’s ecologically of much less value than many other areas. It is if we’re honest instead of emotional, it’s a much, much more sustainable location for many things than putting it, say, at Kingsweston, or Brislington, or Hillfields, or St George, or Lockleaze.

    Kingsweston isnt greenbelt, neither is Brislington. Are you saying it would be better to put a stadium and loads of homes there instead, not in greenbelt? Just think of all the extra car-miles and journeys coming from putting such stuff miles out from the centre and away from good transport corridors.

    It’s not always as simple as brownfield=good and greenbelt=bad. The original border of greenbelt in Ashton Vale doesnt make any sense – It doesnt follows a natural boundary, and it comes way too close to the city centre on a nexus of transport corridors. The “not one blade of grass lost” approach doesnt win in the long run, as sensibly placed sites just get pushed to less sensible ones because of religiously following a 1950’s boundary.

    Of course, none of this detracts from the fact that there may be some behind the scenes manoeuvring going on that should be in public…

  14. chris hutt says:

    But as you mention the bigger picture here is that development is proposed right up to the slopes of Dundry and to Barrow, and at Whitchurch on the basis of a similar rationale, the need to fill out the spaces within the general circumference of the existing urban area.

    But in order to minimise the need to use cars a star shaped city might be more logical than a circular shaped one. Development would extend out along the public transport corridors but the countryside would extend in between them, say along river or stream valleys, so allowing people to enjoy recreation within walking or cycling distance.

    The Green Belt will be attacked at its weakest point, which as you say is that probably that poor quality land where the stadium is planned, but once breached what is to stop the development proceeding on outwards? Where are the ‘natural boundaries’? Bristol Airport perhaps?

  15. chris hutt says:

    Get Out said “it’s less than 2 miles from the city centre, on 2 major transport routes and 2 railway lines”.

    Just one railway line within the urban extension area, but no existing station and no new station proposed, so entirely irrelevant. The two road routes, the A370 and A38, lead to very congested areas of the city so really don’t have spare capacity.

  16. thebristolblogger says:

    The “not one blade of grass” greenbelt fundamentalists

    None of whom have appeared on this blog anywhere.

    However, if it’s a choice between the “not one blade of grass” brigade or wealthy men being allowed to do what they like by weak politicians and planning officers currying favour with an eye on the lucrative private sector jobs market then I know where I stand.

    This should be an opportunity for politicians to take control and plan the city into the future, not sit by and get dictated to by some bloke off the rich list and the Venturer crew.

    Why aren’t they up for the fight? What are they in politics for? Don’t they want to plan things for themselves?

  17. thebristolblogger says:

    I wonder who is the executive member?

    He’s the one who’s elsewhere on the internet talking about ‘transparency and openess’.

  18. Jon Rogers says:

    Thanks BB

    I am told it is always good when people start quoting your own lines back at you, “He’s the one who’s elsewhere on the internet talking about ‘transparency and openness’.”

    Interesting line, “plan the city into the future”. Attractive not just to politicians I judge.

    I suspect all of us would like to influence our city, to affect how it develops and grows and deliver a positive, lasting impact.

    I met residents in St Pauls last week to hear their frustrations about the Dove Lane project.

    We discussed how developers struggled to consult and the council struggled to lead and to listen. Their stories had a painful familiarity.

    It doesn’t have to be this way, and we are all keen to change these bad Bristol habits. Let’s make it happen.


  19. Glenn Vowles says:

    An intriguing post BB – great blogging. I’ve posted a few times on my blog on the proposed new Bristol City stadium and I submitted a pretty detailed contribution to BCFCs consultation. Its an issue I will continue to campaign actively on.

    I’d much rather have the existing ground and surrounding area developed/improved by the club than have them build on green belt land.

    If/when various plans are submitted I will be sending various comments in to planners eg on appropriately developing the existing site and on a wide range of measures of compensation for large environmental impacts that the council might want to add as conditions of granting planning permission for any development on green land.

    I’ll be trying to find out more about the ‘three party agreement to support the stadium relocation..’ mentioned. I know Cllr Holland said this in the local paper not so long ago,

    Council leader Helen Holland said: “I am very excited by the opportunity a successful English FA bid for the 2018 World Cup could bring to our city.
    “A new football stadium is key to any bid and the city council will be ready to rise to the challenge that Bristol City FC’s proposals could provide.
    “We recognise that securing host city status will be a tough battle and that we’ll be pitching against other major English cities – but it’s a prize well worth the effort.
    “After all, the World Cup is the largest spectator event on earth, bigger even than the Olympics.
    “It would provide a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase Bristol to the world.”
    Ms Holland said she supported the general idea of a new stadium which could host World Cup matches. However she stressed she was not commenting on any site proposals and did not want her remarks to be seen as potentially prejudicing the planning process.

    I love the fact that she said she does not want to prejudice the planning process having waxed lyrical about new stadium proposals – she should have ended by saying ‘I resign’ !!

  20. TonyD says:

    Good post Jon, and as truly relevant to the current topic as the majority of last night’s council meeting was to almost all the residents of Bristol.

    Any chance you can post a response that is specific and directly addressing the main subject of this blog (assuming that having read the last two posts you also read the first and perhaps at least glanced at the ones in-between)?

    For example does “there is a three party agreement to support the stadium relocation” reflect the Lib Dem position and if not, does that mean you or your party will be opposing the new stadium proposal to build on Green Belt land when it materialises later this year?

  21. Paul Smith says:

    Tony I think Jon is too busy chasing votes at a meeting in St Pauls to know what is going on elsewhere in the City. The waffle he has posted above is probably because he hasn’t read the papers.

    BB the executive member responsible is probably Simon Cook – probably not told Jon about it hence off topic platitudes

  22. thebristolblogger says:

    Nah. It’s a planning issue. It’s Jon. Can’t be Cook, it doesn’t involve a conflict of interest and voiceover work.

    The trouble is, executive member job titles are so confusing nobody understands what job they do.

    I think Labour started that didn’t they?

  23. Jon Rogers says:

    I thought I was directly on topic, responding to two BB comments?

    In answer to TonyD, I am certainly interested in BCFC stadium plans and associated issues, but I am in listening and learning mode. Obviously, as you all know, I wouldn’t comment until I had read all the documents and nor would you expect me to!


  24. thebristolblogger says:

    Great Jon.

    If you’re pullling the docs together can we have – to save the effort of FoI – all details, minutes, agendas etc. of meetings between Lansdown – in his various business guises – or any of his agents and BCC planning including, of course, any discussions with our thoroughly honest friend David Bishop – who’s a notorious completist when it comes to record keeping isn’t he?

    Let us know the timeframe for delivery.

  25. Tim says:

    Oh c’mon, of all the things going on (and wrong) in Bristol, few things ver made more sense than moving that stadium to the planned new location (whether that pitiful BRT route is going to happen or not). Greenbelt land? Next to a giant P+R, a major arterial road and that giant fitness center complex? You’ve got to be kidding me. Also, I don’t really see what’s wrong with redeveloping the land of the current stadium into a residential area (or, heaven forbid, a ‘mixed use’ development). It’s not in a bad location and the current stadium is such an eye sore that not even Barrats or Crest Nicholson would be able to design something uglier. Of course it may not happen now, but you make it sound like it’s undesirable in principle unless lots of S106 spoils come out of it. Political shenanigans aside, surely it’s fair enough that expectations are adjusted downwards?

    > … wealthy men being allowed to do what
    > they like …

    Aren’t you exaggerating a bit? We’re not talking a shopping centre here – arguably a sports stadium is a ‘public good’, even if there are business interests involved. I think it’s great that Mr Lansdown is pushing this forward, and I think Bristol would be better off if more of its wealthy men (citizens?) would get involved in things local. And that’s with me having absolutely no personal interest in that stadium, the club, football or any sport whatsoever.

    > This should be an opportunity for politicians
    > to take control and plan the city into the
    > future, not sit by and get dictated to by some
    > bloke off the rich list and the Venturer crew.

    Is that the same Bristol politicians who defined ‘future’ as kerb-guided diesel busses? (Apologies – the ‘kerb guided’ bit has been dropped now, hasn’t it?). Thanks, but no thanks. I think I’d rather have rich men with a vision and council technocrats battle it out for a while. Should make for a welcome change.

  26. badnewswade says:

    What is it with these property developers? I wish they’d just sod off. Has anyone seen that sickening advert they’ve turned the entire Arnonfini into?

    What gets to me is that all their santized, suburban bullshit they’re forcing down Bristol’s collective throat is driving away the very “creative” people that they claim to want to attract. I mean, what kind of artist would want to live in crummy yuppy flat in the Docks with no local colour, no atmosphere, no community, just a lot of other rich arseholes? Sake.

  27. chris hutt says:

    But the ‘creatives’ take over formerly working class areas like Greenbank and Southville, as often as not aided by a ‘flagship’ project by one George Ferguson.

  28. paul smith says:

    I wouldn’t comment until I had read all the documents says Jon Rogers

    Thats never then

  29. Get out says:

    The Witchurch urban extension is an absurd idea and isnt remotely comparable to building in Aston Vale. It’s over twice as far from the centre as Aston Vale and the A37 corridor is a total nightmare anyway. Witchurch already has a good natural boundary up there, while the obvious place for the boundary at Ashton is to go to along the bottom of the hill – i.e. from the old CEGB building to where the A370 crosses the railway line.

    Chris Hutt, yes there are 2 railway lines through Aston – the Portishead line (and even the Spike Island railway if it was used, even for BRT). And actually the developer’s plans for the urban extension did include a new station on the mainline, but that didnt stop the plans being utterly crap.

    I agree with “Tim” that this is an idea that makes sense but some are looking to find flaws in it for any reason, probably because George Ferguson and developers are involved so it must be evil. Could it be that “sports and football” is just a bit to common and working-class for the eco-trotts and highbrow Marxists?

  30. Get out says:

    Paul Smith you sound like a 9 year old and yet are the most senior Labour politician who comes here. If you think you’re making a good impression you want your head examining.

  31. TonyD says:

    “Paul Smith you sound like a 9 year old and yet are the most senior Labour politician who comes here.”

    Because “highbrow Marxists”, “eco-trotts”, and “not one blade of grass fundamentalists” are indicators of grown-up debate aren’t they?

    And its ASHTON not Aston. This is Bristol not Birmingham. It’s also WHITCHURCH not Witchurch. Just how local are you Get Out when you don’t even know the names of the places you profess to have such a great understanding of?

    Oh yes, I remember – you are the guy that apparently thinks its a great idea to build a Hotel in Easton……

  32. Get out says:

    LOL! 😀

  33. TonyD says:

    I obvously got out of the wrong side of bed today 🙁

    I shall go back and try again.

  34. Bigwok says:

    The issue is going to be one of local politicians and officers not insisting on contributions to appropriate infrastructure to address the impact of development in the surrounding area. I think that most people would accept that the stadium is probably a good thing and this location is sensible.

    At Greenbank, the Chocolate factory development hasn’t even provided enough money to provide adequate school places for residents or improve open space or road junctions to deal with the additional demands that new residents will make on them. This just creates problems in the future theat we the tax payer have to sort out.

    I accept that in the current economic situation, contributions from developers will need to be reduced, but the Council should at least know what the priorities are for the future of the city and specifically different parts of the city for each service area (education, health, social, community, open space, transport, utilities etc)

    The Council seem to be in the process of identify all these locations for new developement, I’d like to see do the next step and identify the social and transport infrastructure required to support it, what it costs, who will fund it, private or public sector and when.

    Its essential and the only way the City can grow in a positive way. If we are truly entering an age of transparent and open democracy then BCC needs to set out its stall and then stick to it, rather than continued negotiation and secret deals where the development industry/rich and influential are clearly getting the upper hand.

  35. Bigwok says:

    The urban extension at Ashton has never included a proposal for a station on the main line and neither would network rail allow such a proposal. It would need the electrification of the great western and 4 tracking of the rail lines through Bristol to parkway to increase capacity to allow this.

  36. Get out says:

    The plans I saw did, and the report here mentions it:

    Whether it’s deliverable is a different matter – Network rail have been resisting almost everything for a decade. That’s why the railways are in such a state…

  37. chris hutt says:

    The ‘Ashton Park’ plans are here –

    As you can see there is no attempt to even identify a potential site for a new mainline station, even though the mainline passes right through it. If you want a train it’s BRT or bike to Temple Meads.

    The proposed Portishead service, running on single track and loss-making from the outset, is never likely to amount to much in terms of frequency or capacity. Besides the proposed station at Ashton Gate would be remote from the bulk of Ashton Park.

    Heavy rail infrastructure can rarely accommodate the sort of high frequency service that public transport needs to provide to be attractive. Hence BRT, which is really just a bus service mostly running on a bus only road. But will the public be won over by that?

  38. Bigwok says:

    I’m sure your right people must have suggested it but I’m sure its never been a realistic proposition. In the early days of the Stadium, Steve Lansdown raised the posibility of a South Parkway Station at a fans Q+A before a game at the tail end of last season. If network rail are against a station, then whats the point of the developer promising something that can’t be delivered.

    FOBSR have stated that severn beach trains should continue on to Ashton gate to provide all cross bristol services and then ideally Portishead. A good idea I think, especially for the stadium.

    If hopes are being pinned on BRT then I think we might have to see some serious restraint on car ownership/use within the urban extension if its going to work.

    Anyone know if the BRT will continue on to Hengrove? if so will be along Winsterstoke road, Hartcliffe way, through Ashton park and via the South Bristol Ring/Link road (delete as appropriate) or East Street, West Street, Hartcliffe Way?

  39. TonyD says:

    Rail Station

    I think that back in Nov/Dec 2007 when the plans to move to a new site were announced, it was members of the public who suggested the idea of a new railway station – to which Lansdown’s response was one of being open-minded (as he was to the suggestion of providing an indoor arena as part of the development).

    There were a series of workshops held at Ashton Gate in April 2008 for “key stakeholders”, where initial maps drawn up by the participants during the first workshop show a railway station, and the suggestion made to “consider a new railway station”. By the time of the 2nd workshop this had solidified into “What we should do….build a railway station south of Long Ashton to serve the urban extension”.

    By workshop 4 this had become “Develop Parson St station” and “create a rail station link for the football stadium”

    The appendices to the report include the following comments; The group were…

    “concerned that the railway station may not be a realistic proposition. The area to the south of it is not suitable for housing development so there would not be enough housing immediately around the station”

    and in the final appendix:

    Issues raised for future research; is a railway station feasible?

    Apparently, based on the latest plans referred to by Chris, it wasn’t.

  40. Lansdown has already spoken the council about selling the Gate to a “leading food retail company” Do a FOI and you will get it. Labour said we want more money, Lib-Dems just said wait until elections over.

    “Mr Lansdown said he would not follow Dave Whelan, JJB Sports founder and Wigan Athletic owner, in naming the ground after his business.

    “I don’t want my name near the stadium. It’ll be more like Emirates Stadium, I hope,” he told The Times.”

    The Tesco’s Stadium it is then…….other fans think so too.

    Expect 35,000-40,000 sq ft supermarket with Petrol station and 300 car parking spaces and 24 hour opening. Main entrance from Winterstoke Road with BRT stop right outside.

    In return; new stadium to be branded.

    “The stadium name will be subject to who is prepared to pay for it” Lansdown told fans at a specially set-up meeting before the Norwich City game.

    Tescos at Ashton Gate and City at the Tescos Stadium. Pretty much confirmed by Sexstone at recent PR event.

    Could be worse….could be the Asdal Bowl!

    Lansdown are talking more details to the council in the next few weeks but its already a done deal – Lib Dems will follow officer advice and will announce it after the elections…..Lansdown wanted planning proposal to go to May meeting but because before elections, it will now be July/August. Planning application proper next year.

    Rogers and Hopkins will ignore all this of course – they do the talk but don’t do the walk. Happy to get photo in paper outside Architecture Centre – but nowhere to be seen now, just talking non-specifics because 20,000 city fans = 20,000 votes. That’s real sustainability – sustainable re-election.

    Council even letting City use the PnR to supplement parking so they only need to build 1000 car parking spaces not 2000, so more room for retail outlets because Lansdown hopes Ashton Vale will be the next Gloucester Quays – there’s no money in residential and office development at the moment.

  41. Paul Smith says:

    Get out – 2 things firstly I am prepared to use my real name here (are you Steve Comer?), secondly childish, humourless abuse is usually used by people when they are trying to distract from the main issue. Hopkins and Rogers have gone uncharacteristly quiet on this blog. My guess is because the lib dem commitment to the development has been made by Janke and Cook who do not speak to Rogers and Hopkins unless they have to, being in different factions of the lib dem ‘group’. They are desperately trying to find out whats going on.

    Lets see if we will have the Jon Rogers Tesco?

  42. thebristolblogger says:

    There are indeed rumours of a Janke/Cook/Popham/Comer meeting with Lansdown where a deal was cut.

    Rogers and Neil Harrison have both been named to me as being considered “unreliable” by the current Lib Dem leadership.

  43. “Hopkins and Rogers have gone uncharacteristly quiet on this blog.”

    Yeah, I’d noticed that too… I thought that they were just hoping that they wouldn’t get asked too many questions before the elections… probably going to nod through a whole load of crap once they’ve got their feet properly under the table…

    now, WTF is happening to the dodgy Chocolate Factory land sale? Weren’t we going to hear about that by the end of April? I expect that we’ll probably be told to wait for that till after the election too… yes George, fine George, of course George, we’re safe now George, do whatever you want George.

    Come on Jon, Gary, tell me I’m wrong…

  44. Get out says:

    Heh, some of you people are starting to become a bit of a parody! 😀

    On the one hand berating cllr Jon Rogers for being honest enough to say he doesnt read every set of papers. On the other hand demanding that he appear here at your command on an almost hourly basis to answer every question you want answered!

    It’s Friday morning. He hasnt been here since… oooh… late Wednesday night! Gosh, imagine if he was, say, ?busy? on Thursday? Hmm. Nah! Not like he’s got anything else to do. Maybe he was out working his ward? after all, several posters on here are targeting him to beat him for the Green Party.

    But hey, dont let me get in the way of the conspiracy. It makes better reading. 🙂

  45. Get out says:

    Hold on, I’m Steve Comer?? Oh man, stop, my sides are splitting now….. . Actually I quite liked Steve Comer as LD leader, but isnt he a Rovers fan? Rovers suck.

  46. paul smith says:

    get out you need to get out more

  47. Ahh Get Out… are you saying that when Jon told us about 2 weeks ago that we were going to have an answer by the end of April, that he didn’t realise how long it would take him to read the papers then? Or maybe, he didn’t know how long April was? I don’t think so.

    ‘Sfunny though… if he’d have gone to the stakeholders meeting, then he might not have had quite so much reading to do… he was on the list of stakeholders after all…

  48. Get out says:

    No, what I’m pointing out is that for some on this blog, the mode of discussion seems to have veered from engagement to baiting. That’s a bad thing, I think. Why would cllrs keep coming here if they get baited instead of engaged?

  49. Similar stadium fiasco in Llanelli over Stradey Park and very dubious planning process. this is a rugby club hugely in debt and the new stadium is mostly funded with taxpayers money and will be for ever more, pushed on by very willing council, stadiums seem to be the thing of the moment. The Chief Executive and co of the council are happy in their free hospitality box though.

  50. Jon Rogers says:


    Risky leaving yourselves to yourselves!

    There are discussions and several interesting ideas floating about, as you might expect.

    There are no deals done and you will be disappointed to hear that we are all in the “Lib Dem” faction on the Council!

    Have a good Bank Holiday weekend everyone.


  51. Bigwok says:

    Thanks whistleblower for the confirmation of a giant Tesco on Ashton Gate.

    I suggest Cllr’s have a look at their own citywide retail study phase 2, it clearly identifies nominal demand for an additonal supermarket in South Bristol before 2026. It goes on to state that additonal demand could be created at the urban extensions, e.g. Ashton Park

    The question is should a new supermarket requried to serve the population growth at Ashton Park be located at Ashton Gate? That’s 20,000 plus people without a local supermarket to finance the relocation of the stadium, when Sainsbury’s is already on Winterstoke Road.

    Not a done deal, this deal should not even be on the table!

  52. paul smith says:

    “Risky leaving yourselves to yourselves!

    There are discussions and several interesting ideas floating about, as you might expect.

    There are no deals done and you will be disappointed to hear that we are all in the “Lib Dem” faction on the Council!”

    Typical Jon reply with no answer or information in it – so much for openness and transparency

  53. chris hutt says:

    Forgotten how to read between the lines Paul?

  54. paul smith says:


    reading between the lines leads different people to different conclusions. I read – yes we have done a deal but nobody asked me – how about you?

  55. Yawn Smith says:

    So you read “No deals done” as “yes we have done a deal”? Are you calling Jon a liar?

  56. Steve Comer says:

    There are indeed rumours of a As I’ve been mentioned in despatches I thought I ought to make it clear that:

    1) I am NOT aka ‘Get Out’
    2) There was no “Janke/Cook/Popham/Comer meeting with Lansdown where a deal was cut.”

    I did meet Stephen Lansdown and Colin Sexstone from BCFC (1982) in 2007/8 when I was Lib Dem Group Leader, and they had similar meetings with Labour’s Helen Holland, and the Tory’s Richard Eddy. Barbara Janke and Simon Cook were not in the Lib Dem Shadow Cabinet at that time, and Mike Popham was not at the meeting.

    This was an informal information meeting for the Club to outline its thinking about both the Ashton Vale project and the redevelopment of Ashton Gate, and IIRC was just before they went public with the idea.

    No promises were made, or indeed could be made at the time. The World Cup was mentioned, and I raised the question of transport links and other uses ancilliary to the stadium. At that time the project was going to be funded by housing devleopment, both near the stadium, and on the current Ashton Gate site.

    I know paranoia strikes deep on this website, but the consiracy theories are getting a bit wild!

  57. Dean the Developer says:

    “At that time the project was going to be funded by housing devleopment, both near the stadium, and on the current Ashton Gate site.”

    And since then……..?

    Because Jon Rogers knows full well that Lansdown has proposed a supermarket on the Ashton Gate stadium site. The only way he couldn’t know is if, once again, officers are pulling the wool over his eyes…

    To be misled by officers once might be considered unfortunate…….

  58. Jon Rogers says:

    Afternoon Dean et al

    I have already made clear that “There are discussions and several interesting ideas floating about, as you might expect.”.

    I am not going to be drawn into more detail. Sorry to disappoint.


  59. thebristolblogger says:

    At this stage we don’t want to be hearing local government waffle about “discussions” and “interesting idea floating about”.

    We want to hear about the business end of this deal.

    Lansdown is worth £280m.He wants to build on the greenbelt. Given its undoubted value, how much is the council going to value it at?

    I understand Lansdown recently sold shares valued at £26m to fund his stadium. Surely he will need to sell a few more shares?

    In progressive circles we call this redistribution of wealth. Remember that?

  60. Paul Smith says:

    so who is employing Stephen Wray to prepare the 2018 world cup bid?

    • thebristolblogger says:

      Wray is still employed on something around a 6-figure salary by BCC, despite not getting any of the new strategic leadership posts.

      Apparently he still maintains a small staff and has responsibility for the Watershed and little else.

      Although it now seems he may be responsible for a non-existent world cup bid.

      Can’t we just get rid of him and save ourselves a couple of hundred thousand a year?

  61. Paul Smith says:

    Steve Comer – I dont doubt what you say is true, just out of date

  62. Charlie Bolton says:

    I asked officers a few days ago about a possible Tesco’s at Ashton Gate, no reply as yet.

    Christ only knows what it would do to North St.

    • thebristolblogger says:

      Are local councillors not kept abreast – as a matter of course – of any discussions regarding their wards by planning officers?

      Or do we have situation where unelected David Bishop knows while the people we elect don’t?

      Local government is totally fucked isn’t it?

  63. Holly says:

    It probably wouldn’t make any difference if councillors were informed of any planning matters since the Council grants retrospective permissions anyway, as happened at Grove Wood:

    Tree clearance by landowners and speculative property developers is now a very serious problem in Bristol. Hebron Cemetery is the most recent example, along with Eastville Park, Ashton Vale and Grove Wood.

    Perhaps if the Council correctly enforced planning laws there would be more of a deterrant. Can someone investigate who the speculative developer was at Hebron Cemetery. I have a hunch it was Mr Jafari as the rather reactionary statement on the EP report reeks of his deviousness.

  64. Gary Hopkins says:

    Hebron Burial ground was owned by an Italian not Jafari. It has now been bought for the city and will be offered to the friens group at a peppercorn rent.The council will provide support and the friends should be able to access grants for maintenance and improvements.
    This is in direct contrast to what was allowed to develop at grove wood.

  65. Holly said:
    It probably wouldn’t make any difference if councillors were informed of any planning matters since the Council grants retrospective permissions anyway, as happened at Grove Wood

    I know that other councils have very strict policies, and make offenders restore things to the way they were before, then tell ’em to apply for planning permission from scratch. Bristol is really sloppy in this regard, and developers know it all too well.

    If BCC were to get tough, I’d bet good money that it would stop quite a few of the abuses that currently take place. I suspect that BCC’s lax approach has probably ended up costing more money in the long run, as it’s meant that more problem cases have to be dealt with at a late stage… it certainly means more pissed off members of the public who get to feel as if their opinions count for nothing.

  66. Holly says:

    Yes, surely, massive thanks must go to the Council under the new LibDem administration for their quick action over Hebron Cemetery. How utterly disgusting and immoral that a developer would even consider moving the dead and destroying sacred ground of such local historical importance.

  67. Gary Hopkins says:

    The previous lack of enforcement on planning had got Bristol marked up as a soft touch.
    There was no planning enforcement at all. Having got it introduced as a service 2 years ago it is now a matter of constant attention ,for a while ,to get the cultural change.
    It is absolutely true that once any organisation gets a reputation that it will follow through it rarely gets challenged.

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