We have been approached by a number of concerned fans asking about the implications of the Judicial Review (JR) proceedings started by local waste company, ETM, last week against Bristol City Council. The JR seeks to stop the approved development on Longmoor and, in turn, would prevent the linked approved development of Ashton Gate’s Sporting Quarter going ahead.
If the Longmoor project is blocked, it will materially and adversely affect the future of professional and community sport in Bristol and the ability to attract high profile entertainment, sporting and corporate events to the city. It will also have a detrimental effect on the future of local businesses that Ashton Gate already supports; those that rely on Ashton Gate to attract additional corporate, tourism and sports fans to the area. The Sporting Quarter will not just help the Bristol Sport professional sportsteams achieve sustainability, but also and crucially extend the associated charitable foundations’ (Bristol Sport Foundation, Bristol Bears Community Foundation and Robins Foundation) much-needed community work.
During the planning process, we significantly modified our planning application to take account of the concerns raised by ETM regarding noise. ETM is concerned that any newly built homes close to its recycling plant (at Ashton Vale) would be inconvenienced by noise which it generates. In response to this, and following extensive studies and acoustic surveys, the housing area to be developed on Longmoor was moved away from the northern corner of the site (the part closest to the ETM plant). This was done to make sure that no such inconvenience would arise. Our application to Bristol City Council proceeded on this basis and made the entirely legitimate assumption that ETM would operate in accordance with its own planning permission, environmental permit and trading licences. All of this is a matter of public record and contained within documents filed on Bristol City Council’s planning portal.
It is, therefore, not correct for ETM to state now that the approved development on Longmoor will adversely impact its business. Bristol City Council has already confirmed that providing ETM stays within permitted noise levels, it wouldn’t be too noisy for anyone living in the proposed new homes. The Council also noted that we had mitigated any possible concerns by re-planning the housing layout, moving the nearest house further away from the plant.
Notwithstanding the above, we can confirm that discussions were held with ETM four years ago, as part of the general consultation with near neighbours, when we offered to make a financial contribution to an acoustic enclosure over the recycling plant. This was simply a gesture of goodwill as Ashton Gate has no commercial interest in ETM and no other obligation to make such a contribution.
However, ETM informed us at the time that they had an alternative and cheaper solution and were proceeding with that (this was a fence mounted on top of the concrete wall surrounding the plant). Ashton Gate’s expert advisors did not believe that the design proposed would be suitable should the site traffic increase, and any money spent on it would be wasted. ETM proceeded, nevertheless.
ETM is now stating that a full acoustic enclosure is required – something which is unrelated to the development of Longmoor for the reasons set out above.
It is incredibly frustrating that the whole Sporting Quarter and much-needed homes for Bristol now look like they will be significantly delayed, and even risk being abandoned, due to ETM’s actions. Councils are suffering severe financial challenges, putting social care and other services under extreme pressure, yet ETM looks set to continue to pursue a JR application at Bristol City Counciltaxpayers’ expense, for reasons that appear to be un-merited and to the detriment of not just the Longmoor and Sporting Quarter projects but the regeneration of the south of the city more widely.