Sprawl news

News drifts in about the land assembly process for the new Bristol City FC stadium at Ashton Vale. Predictably it features a lot of familiar faces on that small but influential local developer scene.

At the beginning of December 2007, a London based property company, Longmoor Land Ltd, sold a plot of land just inside the Bristol City Council boundary at Ashton Vale to a limited liability partnership, Vence LLP, which had been incorporated the week before.

Vence LLP has two directors; Steve Lansdown, the chairman of Bristol City FC, and his son John Lansdown. The cost of the purchase is recorded as £4.5 million.

When the land was purchased it lay within the city’s green belt and was identified in Bristol City Council’s local plan as being both a ‘Wildlife Network Site’ and a ‘High Risk Flood Zone’.

The South West Regional Spatial Strategy proposes, however, that an urban extension of 10,500 homes is developed to the south-west of Bristol and has included this site within the scope of any potential development.

A separate but similarly sized plot of land immediately to the south of this plot, was then transferred from Ashton Vale Land Ltd of 70 Prince Street to another limited liability partnership called Ashton Vale Project LLP, also of 70 Prince Street, for the sum of £990,000.

This second plot of land – also in the Green Belt, also in a High Risk Flood Zone – was identified in the local plan as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest with city-wide importance and is an identified ‘Open Space’. It was, however, also included within the scope of the urban extension.

The directors of Ashton Vale Project LLP include John Pontin and David Johnstone from JT Developments of – wait for it … 70 Prince Street!

Pontin, a Merchant Venturer, likes to be linked with various environmentally and socially aware projects such as the Watershed, Arnolfini, Bordeaux Quay and Spike Island.

Although the recent destruction of some natural habitat at Ashton Vale, reported in the Evening Cancer, and, apparently, pinned on Steve Lansdown, actually took place on land owned by Ashton Vale Project Ltd – proprietor: Mr sustainability himself, John Pontin.

So here we have an individual who makes a great deal of fuss about being environmentally aware and keen on “sustainable development” involved in damage to an SNCI site and openly seeking to breach the city’s greenbelt and kick-off the highly profitable and environmentally dubious process of creating urban sprawl out across North Somerset.

Ashton Vale Project LLP and Vence LLP have now appointed a planning consultancy – very, very big players Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners (NLP) – to represent them in a joint venture to build the new Bristol City football stadium on this 17 hectare (42 acre) site on Green Belt land in the Bedminster ward of Bristol City Council.

So far, so predictable. You almost have to admire the diabolical PR brilliance of using such a slam dunk populist issue as a new football stadium for the local team to get stuck into our greenbelt with don’t you? Let’s face it, opposing this one is tough.

So look out Bedminster here come the Merchant Venturers with, predictably, their very own local Venturer, George Ferguson, as cheerleader-in-chief for the whole affair.

Already we’ve had one of his Cancer column’s on the obvious benefits of building a stadium on a “useless bit of scrubby land” before he shamelessly touts for some business developing the existing Ashton Gate stadium. It “represents a great opportunity for an exemplar mixed-use development” would you believe?

Surely discussion around ripping up the city’s valuable greenbelt deserves a better level of debate than this kind of self-serving tripe? Probably. But we’re unlikely to get it. Rest assured consultants NLP are already hard at work down at the Counts Louse on this.

Representations and lobbying to Bristol City Council to secure the early release of the Green Belt land for the development and also to reduce the amount of housing required within the Bristol City Council boundary as part of the south west urban extension will undoubtedly have taken place.

Bristol’s planning boss, the shifty Bishop, would, of course be involved. And as he probably gets a little wet patch in his pants at the very mention of characters such as Lansdown, Pontin and Ferguson we can expect little resistance from the city’s planning department.

That just leaves the city’s politicians to look after our greenbelt for us then.

I think it’s probably safe to assume that Eddy’s gormless Tories will do nothing. It’s also unlikely that the Holland-Hammond-Bradshaw Bristol New Labour leadership will suddenly turn tail and take on their local business friends to fight for the city’s greenbelt.

It might be one of the understated glories of the Attlee government, which still manages, sixty years on, to attract envious glances from the North America and Europe, but you suspect Bristol Labour took John Prescott at his miscued words when he said, “The Green Belt is a Labour policy and we intend to build on it“.

That just leaves the Lib Dems then. We’ve certainly had a lot of very greenish-sounding talk from the Lib Dems’ pre-June election PR outriders Jon Rogers and Gary Hopkins. But are they really about to put principles first and take on the city’s most powerful vested interests over a genuine green issue?

Don’t hold your breath. The Lib Dems home counties Tory-style leadership cabal of Janke, “Biggles” Popham and Simon “the business plan looks robust to me” Cook don’t really strike you as greens do they?

This entry was posted in Ashton Vale, Bedminster, Bristol, Bristol South, Conservatives, Developments, Elections, Environment, Labour Party, Lib Dems, Local government, Merchant Venturers, Planning, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Sprawl news

  1. Well, well, well. It’s all getting rather repetitive isn’t it… tell me, why am I not surprised by any of this?

  2. Rosso Verde says:

    In Italy, Inter and AC Milan, Roma and Lazio, Sampdoria and Genoa etc share one decent stadium. I know it would take a bit of a leap for both Bristol clubs, but why the hell do we need 2 grounds?
    If you think that City vs Rovers has some needle try Roma vs Lazio!

  3. chris hutt says:

    A good analysis of the situation BB. It looks like the Green Belt doesn’t mean very much these days, at least as far as the big boys are concerned.

    Moving the football stadium to a more out-of-town location is surely going to undermine the popularity of walking to matches and encourage driving, hardly a move towards sustainability.

    It will be interesting to see the developers’ transport plan. No doubt it will lean heavily on the proposed BRT route which shows how BRT is part of the array of weapons developers will use to break through the Green Belt.

  4. BristolDave says:

    But Chris, everyone drives to the matches at the current location anyway. That’s why you can’t park anywhere near there on match days, and why the sliproads of the cumberland basin overpass are lined with badly-parked cars on match days.

    Personally I’m interested to know what financial transactions have taken place to ensure these cars, no matter how badly parked, are never ticketed or towed by the police or the council like they did at the baloon fiesta. What’s the difference.

    Oh, but it’s OK to park like a complete fucktard because “it’s the football”.

  5. snafu says:

    What’s the difference?

    Erm, there’s lots of them and they look rather frightening, maybe?

    If you’ve ever worked in a business, say in north street, on match days when things haven’t gone too well, or a london team has beeen down, i don’t think you’d fancy taking them on either.

    Would probably breach health and safety policies anyhow.

  6. snafu says:

    Those who get a rep for being really nasty don’t need to pay tv tax either. So much for equality b4 the law huh?

  7. Chris says:

    @Rosso Verde: perhaps, you also need to consider that Bristol also has a rugby club (admittedly, not a very good one). It certainly wouldn’t be possible to have a stadium that is shared by Bristol City, Bristol Rovers and Bristol Rugby. Not only do you need to consider the logistical scheduling arrangements but also maintaining a suitable standard of playing surface.

    @Chris Hutt: I think describing this as a “more out-of-town location” is perhaps over-doing the point. The actual moving distance is minimal and I know that it certainly won’t stop me walking to the ground.

    @BristolDave: you say never. This is certainly factually incorrect. I am certainly aware of parking tickets being issued in the past. You may also be interested in the minutes of the January Meeting of the BCFC Fans Consultative Forum – these are available at http://www.bcfc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10327~1545142,00.html

    “Parking on the Cumberland Basin: DL confirmed that the club continue to try and find a practical solution to parking problems on match days. This includes revisiting the possibility of Park and Ride near the David Lloyd (no relation to the chair person incidentally) Centre. This is particularly relevant as the club has been made aware that no parking will be allowed along the Cumberland Basin from March and this would be rigidly enforced with any offending cars being towed away. You have been warned!”

  8. TonyD says:

    Clever bloke that Lansdown.

    When the stadium plans were first announced they were talking about getting planning permission in 2009. Now they are talking about getting planning permission in the first quarter of 2010.

    What’s the betting that the application arrives for consideration by Bristol City Council in Q2 2010 – just in time for the local elections when every ward in the south of the city has an election.

    It will be interesting to see how Cllrs Main, Sykes, Havvock and Kent approach this.

    As for Gary…….!

    Here are my odds;
    Planning permission granted – evens
    Deferred for S.106 discussion until after the elections – 1/3

  9. BristolDave says:


    A welcoming development, although whether it actually happens I guess is a different matter. Thanks for pointing it out though.


    So? Wait until 30 mins into the game and then do it whilst they’re all inside Ashton Gate. By the time the knuckle-draggers spill out of the stadium the towtrucks + cars would be long gone.

  10. snafu says:

    Ahh, dave, now you start to understand what it’s like for the rest of us having to put up with you petrolheads and your heaps of metal littering up the place or worse … hurtling towards us at lethal speeds.

  11. Mike Rowan says:

    That is a great looking stadium!

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  13. Colin Smith says:

    Read your comments with interest and we are active in Bath aginst green belt developoment. However your personal attacks on individuals will not do the cause any good. Stick to the facts and cut out the invective or you will alienate good people.

    Colin & Maggie Bath

  14. thebristolblogger says:

    ‘The cause’ is already lost.

  15. Tim says:

    Allow me to be slightly obtuse:
    I’m going to build a new brothel, casino, cinema and snow dome complex on Weston beach itself. Not that we need one, just it’ll be better than the current civic amenities.
    The only thing is I’ll have to build a new village slap bang in the middle of the countryside to pay for it.
    Is this OK?

  16. Paul Mizen says:

    I’m a bit concerned about the numerical ability of the City Council Bid Team for the 2018 World Cup. They are basing there financial projections on having four group games, but with four teams in each group playing each other, that means six games. Am I missing something or did they miss out on arithmatic at school?

  17. Deano says:

    “Am I missing something or did they miss out on arithmetic at school?”

    You’re missing something.

    There is nothing that says a venue has to host all of the games in a group. In fact as the last two games in a group are played at the same time this would be physically impossible.

    There are 48 group games and, if the Bristol World Cup Bid is successful, we will probably host 4 of those, plus 1 game from the second round. The four group games could be from four different groups.

  18. Paul Mizen says:


  19. Paul Mizen says:

    Does that mean only the winner of each group goes through, if we are to host a quarter final? Does it also mean we may not get any of the top teams if the games can come from different groups?

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