The fate of a major new Bristol development that includes a large new secondary school is set to be decided soon.
A government planning inspector is expected to decide whether to throw out the plans for the council-approved development on Silverthorne Lane in early 2022.
Bristol City Council approved a private developer’s plans to build hundreds of new homes, offices, shops, student accommodation and a large new secondary school on industrial land beside the Feeder Canal in August 2020.
But the Environment Agency objected over flooding concerns, prompting the secretary for housing, communities and local government to ‘call in’ the application.
A public inquiry was held in May 2021 and a decision is expected in the first few months of 2022.
If the inspector overturns the council planning consent and rejects the plans, it will come as a bitter blow to parents in East Bristol where there is a desperate need for new secondary school places.
If the plans get the green light, the 1,600-place Oasis Academy Temple Quarter will occupy the largest of six parts of the development proposed by Feeder Estates, a partnership managed by Square Bay.
Student accommodation, including a 17-storey tower block with 693 beds for University of Bristol students, would sit between the school and the end of the development nearest to St Philip’s Causeway.
Hundreds of new homes and offices for commercial and university use would sit on the other side of the school, nearer the Avon Street junction end of the development near Motion nightclub.
“The Environment Agency’s overriding concern is that the development allows flood depths on site, over the lifetime of the development, which are so significant as to be hazardous and a risk to life,” the agency said in its ‘statement of case’ to the planning inquiry.
But the developer argued that: “The worst case flood scenario would occur in a tidal flood event combined with tidal surge, which would allow a significant period of warning, and would only occur for a relatively short period (up to four hours in 2120, which is the end of the 100 year lifetime of the development, taking account of climate change).
“Therefore, the strategy would be to close the school and the offices in advance of the flood event, so that no occupants would be present. “
Residents would be notified such that they can either stay in place for the short duration of the high tide, or vacate the area in good time prior to the peak of the tide.
“A safe walkway is included in the application to allow access for occupants and the emergency services throughout the peak of the design flood event.” T
he council argued its decision to grant planning permission was “justified by the circumstances of the case”.
It told the planning inspector in its ‘statement of case’ it would “provide evidence in respect of the nature of flooding at the site, the efficacy of the mitigation and flood evacuation plan proposed by the applicant and how it can be secured, including providing details of suggested conditions to overcome the issues raised by the Environment Agency”.