More favours to local business from our planning department

Looks like “Dodgy” David Bishop‘s “objective” and “independent” planning department have been using that famous disinterested “quasi-judicial function” of theirs to benefit local business interests on the sly again.

One of the more enduring mysteries of the sudden withdrawal of Bristol City FC’s planning application to build a supermarket at Ashton Gate (Blogger passim) is why did they choose to withdraw this application?

Contrary to popular mythology, the planning application, supposed to be heard on the 5 November, was never a “Tesco application” that needed to be replaced by a “Sainsbury application”. It was always an application to build a supermarket of any brand they liked on the site, so why withdraw it? The name of the supermarket is not a material planning consideration in any way.

Now the Blogger learns that the reason for the sudden withdrawal of this application – just a week before it was due to be heard – was because the city’s planning department had produced a report recommending REFUSING permission.

As a courtesy, this report was first shown by Bristol City Council to Bristol City FC after which it seems to have got mysteriously buried.

This means the football club and their new partners have had EXCLUSIVE access to the reasons for refusal and can now work unhindered to try and produce a new application that will be accepted.

Anybody else, of course, is currently denied access to this public report. Especially those people who might not fancy some shitty great metal shed full of consumer crap and 600-space car park in their back yard.

Isn’t it nice of our city planners – who we pay handsomely for their independence and objectivity – to be handing out a competitive advantage to a couple of favoured businesses?

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20 Responses to More favours to local business from our planning department

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention More favours to local business from our planning department « The Bristol Blogger -- Topsy.com

  2. Oliver Maunder says:

    Isn’t this the sort of thing the Freedom of Information Act was made for?

  3. Chris says:

    Doesn’t sound particularly odd to me – surely this is to allow the applicant the ability to offer a response???

  4. Paul Mizen says:

    This should not be a surprise. Listen to the speech from Cllr John Keilly, Full Council Meeting, Nov. 10th, warning of the
    “shortcomings” of the planning dept. It doesn’t sound as if it is the councillors who run our city!It brings a whole new meaning to the word “independant”.

  5. Charlie Bolton says:

    I asked for a copy of the report and was told officers were taking advice on whether or not it should be made available.

    I believe there is an FoI request outstanding.

  6. thebristolblogger says:

    So …

    The planning department will make a report available to a private business but not the elected local representative?

    I’d like to know how they think that works.

  7. woodsy says:

    BB

    My past dealings with the Planning Dept. have revealed them to exist in their own little private universe that runs on rules different from the rest of creation.

    I believe Planning Dept. staff are also recruited especially from alien stock for their complete lack of empathy with members of the human race.

  8. Jon Rogers says:

    Afternoon BB

    I have been doing a little checking. Sorry if it spoils your imaginative, conspiracy laden, stories again…

    1. “Having heard the views of officers on the proposals for a foodstore at Ashton Gate, Bristol City Football Club took the decision to withdraw their planning application.”

    2. “The Football Club were not given sight of the officer report before making their decision to withdraw their application”

    3. “It is common practice across the country that local planning authorities advise applicants seeking planning permission of any outstanding issues and the likely officer recommendation prior to publication of the report.”

    4. “The Bristol Planning Protocol (launched publicly in September 2007 by Bristol City Council, Business West and the Bristol Property Agents Association) sets out that applicants will be advised of the officer view on the proposals once the application has been assessed and consultation carried out, and that applicants will be given the opportunity to withdraw their application.”

    5. The officer report was not published as the application was withdrawn, but was ready to be sent out. It has been supplied to a resident under an FoI request (last week I understand).

    6. I also understand that Charlie Bolton asked verbally, and officer said he would check, which he has done, so should be winging it’s way to Cllr Bolton was well today.

    7. Planning is INDEPENDENT of the executive.

    Finally I hope that readers will note how the Bristol Blogger has, once again, served up an unnecessary, unpleasant and inaccurate slur. I would respond to more of their falsehoods, but life is too short.

    Have a good day all

    Jon

  9. thebristolblogger says:

    life is too short.

    I hear that’s certainly the case in residential care homes for the elderly your administration’s responsible for Jon.

  10. Paul Mizen says:

    “planning is INDEPENDENT of the executive”, but does it not fall upon the the officers to carry out, as a general principle, policy as laid down by our representatives, the councillors. One councillor at least, and probably many more, think this is not the case.

  11. beratebedminster says:

    We have a copy of the report.
    See http://www.berate.co.uk/ for a copy and some highlights for those who don’t fancy reading the longhand version.

    As it happens, we think the planners did a thoroughly excellent job on this and made the right recommenadtion. (But then we would say that!).

    What this means for Sainsburys though is more interesting. If they can come up with a like for like swap (size, retail type etc), then maybe they are in with a chance of permission.

    Any bigger and then this stuff starts to kick in. But then if its no bigger, whats the point in moving? Perhaps a better reason for their sudden interest in a swap can be found in the section that identified a potential loss in turn over of 8M if a competitor opens up at Ashton gate. Assuming a new a planning application costs 500k to produce, thats a massive return on their investment.

  12. Jon Rogers says:

    Paul Mizen asks, “does it not fall upon the the officers to carry out, as a general principle, policy as laid down by our representatives”

    In my opinion, our planning officers have carried out faithfully and diligently their responsibilities.

    Those responsibilities are to give an opinion on planning law in the context of both Bristol and National planning framework and I note that beratebedminster opines, “we think the planners did a thoroughly excellent job on this and made the right recommenadtion”

    One part of my portfolio is to review how the planning officers tackle applications. They do seem to me to be scrupulously open and transparent.

    I realise that BB takes perverse pleasure in seeking to undermine our administration and our officers at every opportunity. I am the first to admit when we don’t always get it right, but we do try and act in an open and accountable way.

    Bristol City Council is not perfect, but IMO there are already significant improvements and I expect there to be more in the coming months and years.

    Jon

  13. Charlie Bolton says:

    The report arrived this pm

    The power of the Bristol Blogger!

  14. Jon Rogers says:

    Charlie Bolton suggests power of the Bristol Blogger

    Er no. I think it is much more the power of a responsive Planning Department?!

    I don’t know how long the Berate FoI took, but I suspect it predates the BB rantings.

    Jon

  15. thebristolblogger says:

    we do try and act in an open and accountable way

    Ah yes. Like that time back in February when Stephen McNamara ordered 4 security men to remove Steve Norman from the Council House for trying to speak out against abuse perpetrated by your private care provider friends Mimosa Healthcare?

    You know the ones, whose home was described today as “atrocious” by the Care Quality Commission?

    How very “open and accountable” of you to physically remove someone for having the cheek to deliver an embarrassing and potentially bad-for-business message.

    And let’s not forget your actions were totally in contravention of the Lib Dems’ beloved Human Rights Act (which neither you nor your lawyers understand).

    I wonder how many old people have been damaged since February because of your “open and accountable” approach?

  16. Paul Mizen says:

    Jon, “as a general principle” meant I was not being specific about this case. I should have been more clear. What has intrigued me was the speech from Cllr Keilly at the Core Strategy meeting. You were present. It was pretty blunt. Planning dept. does not function within the rules. Officers resent carrying out council policy. And more . Are you saying his concerns are misplaced? The Core Strategy called for the protection of all 100 acres of the Bristol Green Belt. Do you think the call by the Deputy Leader of The Council within hours, for an arena to be built on Green Belt land was compatible with this policy? Also I have many hundreds of written responces to a planning application. Can I please present them to you?

  17. Jon Rogers says:

    BB, I guess as “blogger in chief” you can change the topic at whim, but I am puzzled by all your vehement attacks on the residential care homes in the city.

    I guess it relates to BBC report, although you don’t offer the link…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bristol/8395224.stm

    Is that because the BCC quote doesn’t suit your purpose?

    Bristol City Council said in a statement: “Where there are issues in private sector homes which the city council uses, we have inspected and worked with the homes until improvements are made.

    “If there are serious concerns we will put a stop to further placements pending improvement and, where appropriate, may transfer residents from them.”

  18. thebristolblogger says:

    I’m sure any grieving relatives who have lost their loved ones after a stay in one of your’s and Mimosa’s ‘hell homes’ will really appreciate your kind reproduction of Bristol City Council’s corporate statement on the matter.

  19. Steven Norman says:

    I note with interest councillor Rogers statement however how many more opportunities must be given to Mimosa Healthcare to provide a high quality of residential and nursing care for the citizens of Bristol. Lets not forget they are receiving vast amounts of public money they are not providing this service free to tax payers in addition they have control of approximately 400 nursing and care beds in Bristol and the four homes that they run have either been rated at zero or two yet the ratings system goes to five so they are barely making adaquate. We then have the company MD on tv stating she is proud of a one star rating these are the sort of standards I would expect in the developing world not in the eighth richest nation I am sorry councillor Rogers the vulnerable citzens of this city deserve far better.It is time the council climbed out of this providers bed.

  20. anonymous says:

    Looks what someone just sent me:

    From: Amy Hassell On Behalf Of Stephen Lansdown
    Sent: 08 December 2009 17:09
    To: _Everyone
    Subject: World Cup football to Bristol in 2018 – Bristol Needs You!

    HOW YOU CAN HELP

    With the bid now in we need a massive push of public support to bring World Cup football to Bristol in 2018. In your own time, can I ask you to help by doing the following.

    1. Text Bristol to 62018. It’s standard rate and goes direct to England 2018

    2. Register your support for Bristol at http://www.england2018bid.com/support/register.aspx You can do this in addition to the text vote

    3. Please join the Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=95912219510

    Please do as many of the above as possible and also spread the word among friends and family.

    Thank you for your support,

    Steve

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