Result to be given next week
Today the Judicial Review into the Sainsbury’s planning application to build on the current Memorial Stadium site took place at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre.
Barristers from the applicants TRASHorfield, Bristol City Council and Bristol Rovers put their submissions to judge to Mr Justice Hickinbottom.
The Judicial Review was lodged by TRASHorfield, who claim to represent the traders and residents around the Memorial Stadium site.
They claim that Bristol City Council did not correctly follow the planning procedure when considering Sainsbury’s application.
The application was based on the three following complaints:
• The first objection relates to Bristol City Council’s L8 policy, which states that sporting facilities within the Bristol boundaries should not be lost. However, the effect will be negated by the new UWE Stadium just a few miles down the road. This objection had already been rejected by a judge, but TRASH requested that it be reinstated ahead of the hearing. This departure from the adopted development plan has also already been approved by Secretary of State Eric Pickles last year.
• It is claimed that the report compiled by the council’s consultants into the retail impact on the Gloucester Road was misrepresented by the council’s planning officer to the planning committee, where it was claimed the health of the Gloucester Road would continue to be good. However, the council claim this was not the case and the author of the report signed a statement asserting that he had not been misrepresented.
• TRASH have also objected to the way the retail mitigations money agreements have been handled. Under the section 106 agreement Sainsbury’s have agreed to provide a sum of money to mitigate any potential retail impacts. One portion of money has been specified for a retail manager for the North end of Gloucester Road, but the use of the rest of the money has not yet been specified. TRASH believe that all uses should be known up front and projects be identified, but it has been set out that the rest of the money will be allocated nearer the time. In January an amendment was made to the planning permission to make it clear that the local community will be consulted as to how the money is spent.
The summations were concluded in a single day and the judge aims to give his judgement in court next Thursday at 2pm.
Summing up his opinion on how the hearing went, Chairman Nick Higgs said: “It has been a day of technical legal arguments.
“We now have to wait until next week to hear the decision, but we are grateful to the judge for giving his judgement quickly, as it keeps further delays and costs down.
“The delays have cost us, but if the ruling goes in our favour we could be in a position to start this summer once we have sorted out the contractual issues with the other parties.”
Should the judge rule in Rovers’ favour, work could begin on the UWE Stadium as soon as the summer, subject to completion of outstanding contractual matters between Bristol Rovers, UWE, Sainsbury’s and the local authorities.
The build time for the construction is 62 weeks, so Rovers could still start the 2015/16 season in the new stadium.
A new stadium will not only allow Rovers to build for a better future, it will also act as a boost to the local economy providing community use and employment opportunities.
The plans for the 21,700 all-seated stadium include an extensive club shop, banqueting and hospitality suite, convenience store, gym, jogging track and teaching space.
The economic design of the new stadium will be a bowl design, which makes use of the sloping ground to minimise the height of the structure and the impact on the local skyline, and reduce light and noise pollution.
It will also benefit from excellent transport links, including; the A4174, Abbey Wood and Parkway train stations and excellent bus services and close links to the motorways. There will also be a large car park with space for 1,000 cars and coaches - with additional 1,500 spaces available on the campus if deemed necessary.
The stadium and its high quality recreational and non-recreational facilities will also be available for the students and local community for use on non match days.
It will also allow Rovers to continue and develop the vital work the club does in the community from both our education centre and the Football in the Community departments.