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?