"Magic money"

Some more from this stadium planning report (pdf):

Let’s have a look at page 64 then, which is proving to be a bit of a bone of contention:

The Southlands housing and hotel and food and drink uses are proposed as enabling development to assist the funding of the stadium. The very special circumstances put forward are that the value generated by these parts of the development are necessary to assist the funding of an unviable development.

There is a disagreement about the extent of the funding deficit but at best this is a marginal scheme even with the enabling development.”


The Southlands housing element is not supported by your officers because there is a weaker enabling case due to the poor physical and functional relationship with the stadium and this is not compensated by the relatively higher financial contribution that it would bring to the delivery of the stadium.

This weaker enabling case combined with additional harm to the openness of the Green Belt on this part of the site, coupled with the additional local plan open space protection afforded to this open area leads the officers to conclude that this element of the scheme is not acceptable.

As set out earlier in the this report, if members wish to take a different view and support this element, this would have to be on the basis of the very special circumstances of the stadium project clearly outweighing the harm.

Your officers would, therefore, recommend a scheme that included only the stadium site and the associated hotel and food and drink uses on the Green Belt land. The applicant should be invited therefore to resubmit a propsal based on this principle and the recommendation is set out in these terms accordingly.

This little lot immediately sparked a response from Bristol City FC who posted on their website:

Clearly we are disappointed and surprised that a recommendation on the Southlands housing has not been achieved. This has always been an integral part of the application, enabling the stadium to be funded. At no point until a few weeks ago had we been aware of any problems or opposition to this. We will put our case strongly to the planning committee as this is essential to the financial viability of the stadium project.

Let’s ignore, for now, how far up your own arse your head has to be for you to be completely unaware of any opposition to building houses on the green belt and move on instead to the ever-loyal Evening Cancer where Sexstone adds:

“This was a key part of the planning application and it will be another gap that we will have to fill. The value of this residential plan to the whole scheme could be up to £10m. What else is going to fund the stadium? It won’t grow by magic.”

£10m eh? But the report, based on the findings of an independent evaluation of the football club’s financial appraisal says, “Not allowing Southlands would add a deficit of £5.5m to the project. In relation to the total cost of the stadium this accounts for approximately 4.5% of the funding”

Of course, we can’t actually look at the club’s financial appraisals to make our own judgment on who’s right or wrong because, of course, the club has insisted on their plans being secret. As a result £5.5m can “grow by magic” into £10m!

Maybe at this point we need to take a step back and consider what is really happening here.

As reported on this very blog nearly seven months ago, a company called Ashton Vale Project LLP of 70 Prince Street, bought a large chunk of land from Ashton Vale Land Ltd, also of 70 Prince Street for £990k.

This land is now referred to in the stadium development application as:

Zone 2 – this is required for flood alleviation work and cannot have houses built on it, so it is now being called a “wildlife zone” because that sounds nice and greenwashy.

Zone 4 – now being called “Southlands”. By using the ‘enabling development’ argument the landowners are hoping to get outline planning permission for a housing development and raise the value of the land from £990,000 to somewhere in the region of at least £5,500,000.

Not a bad return for 18 months of lobbying of council members and officers and the occasional “exclusive” press release to compliant newspaper editors is it?

But’s what’s really confusing, due to the excessive levels of secrecy Lansdown insists upon, is how this land owned on paper by an unrelated third party – Ashton Vale Project LLP – might help fund his stadium.

Are the Ashton Vale Project just giving their land away? Or is £10m small change from the kind of profits available from obtaining planning permission on our green belt?

There’s certainly some big money to be made according to the council’s independent assessment of the application. This claims the stadium project is at break even purely through the income that can be generated from stadium revenues and greenbelt land sales after planning permission.

This, of course, means Lansdown’s much-touted £47m personal investment in the project may never be required. This in turn means the income from the Southlands development will help reimburse Lansdown and his son for their original investment of £4.5m through the Vence LLP for the land for the stadium.

It’s possible Lansdown himself could break-even. Good business the greenbelt innit?

This entry was posted in Ashton Vale, Bristol, Bristol South, Developments, Local government, Merchant Venturers, Planning, Politics, Southville, World Cup 2018 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to "Magic money"

  1. Ferox says:

    Its pretty obvious that the enabling argument has been flagged here for what it really is, the cream on the milk for the developer. It no more enables the 23rd richest man is Britain, than if I were to cash in my premium bonds and donate them to him.

    The reason for the quick and venomous response is because, as hinted here, this is where the profit is to be found. Without this, the whole episode becomes an empty trip down public benefit lane.

    The slighlty less rich participants of the venture however, would see this as a direct attack on their investment, hence, the robust use of the BEP and the threat that the whole project is in jepoardy. Gotta protect that inital outlay! SL told us all would be cushdy.

    Also, funny how 65 houses and 50 odd flats on the green belt equate to £10M, when 280 houses at Ashton Gate are values at only £5M? Finance eh! You never can work out whats going on. No wonder they pay the experts such a massive bonus to explain it to us.

  2. chris hutt says:

    As Ferox says Steve Lansdown didn’t get to be the 23rd richest person in the UK without having an eye for the main chance. We can be quite sure that he’s worked out all the angles, more than any of us could even guess at, and that the City Council will be taken for a ride.

    The Council should have remained at arm’s length and dealt with all this from a strictly neutral standpoint, but got drawn in by all the World Cup hype to the extent that the Council leadership are going around parroting 2018 like automatons. An object lesson in how the rich and powerful triumph.

  3. thebristolblogger says:

    Lansdown is the 23rd richest man in football – according to FoutFourTwo mag.

    He’s about 200th richest in UK by Sunday Times Rich List.

  4. chris hutt says:

    Oh dear, only 200th! In that case I take back everything I said. The guy must be really struggling to make ends meet and deserves all the public subsidy he can get.

  5. Paul Mizen says:

    D’ont lets forget that our new council came to power with stopping house building on the Greenbelt a priority. Also, they recently agreed a motion to mount a legal challenge against The Regional Spacial Stategy which is the enabling vehicle for building on the Greenbelt. Their credibility is at stake here!

  6. Hyperbole alert says:

    Are you suggesting that the administration should direct the planning committee?

  7. thebristolblogger says:

    A decision to build on the greenbelt will be a political decision regardless of what particular committee takes the decision.

    Besides, the administration has clearly signaled its desires through their overblown and expensive World Cup 2018 campaign at Lansdown’s behest; their willingness to supply land and subsidies to the development and their South Bristol transport plans, which entirely revolve around getting people and vehicles to – what at present is – a great big empty field.

  8. Hyperbole alert says:

    Simply asserting that the DC committee’s decision will be a political one doesnt make it so. You’re straying into BEP style there!

    On another note, we should at least be happy that Tesco didnt bring in their latest promotional recruit to help the plans: Tony Blair! He’s doing such a good job of bringing peace to the Middle East that he’s got spare time to help Tesco break into new markets.

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