‘Knowle deserves better’ - 100 campaigners stage protest outside City Hall over Broadwalk U-turn
Around 100 campaigners staged a protest outside City Hall last night (September 12) and demanded councillors review a planning decision to replace Broadwalk Shopping Centre in Knowle with 850 homes.
Members of Broadwalk Redevelopment Community Group have launched a legal case against the decision and now have to wait for Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to respond to their appeal.
Windmill Hill city councillor Lisa Stone has written to Mr Gove, requesting him to review the planning permission and ‘call in’ the U-turn decision in July.
In April, Bristol City Council’s planning committee unanimously voted to refuse permission to the Redcatch Quarter plan, agreeing with campaigners that the proposed new homes would be too densely-packed, the buildings were too tall, and that there were not enough affordable homes in the plans.
A second meeting to confirm the reasons for refusal was held on July 5 but local residents were told they didn’t need to attend but the developers did, and presented an update about including more affordable flats.
The new proposal immediately resulted in a U-turn by the three Labour councillors and committee chair, Councillor Richard Eddy, and they awarded the planning permission, much to the shock and dismay of residents.
Mr Eddy chaired both meetings and voted to reject it the first time, accepted it the second time and used his casting vote as chair.
Laura Chapman of Broadwalk Redevelopment Community Group said the large turnout of protestors at City Hall last night showed the strength of feeling from local people about Bristol City Council’s decision.
She said: “These are smart, engaged people who understand planning policy and understand what their community needs and wants. And we are really grateful to have been joined by the excellent councillors from the Green and Lib Dem parties, who have been incredibly supportive.
“The disgusting U-turn on July 5 has just made people even more determined to stand up for what’s best for Knowle. The disclosures in the FOI requests prove pre-determination and undeclared lobbying on a huge scale.
“It is galling that our own Mayor was praising Richard Eddy at the same time that we were gathered outside fighting to get our voices heard, but if that’s the side that Marvin has chosen then it just makes our battle lines even clearer.
“We really want Broadwalk to be redeveloped, but this scheme is just too big and too dense. We don’t particularly want to take Bristol City Council to a judicial review - spending so much public money on the legal fees feels inherently wrong in the current climate - but we will 100% do it if the council refuses to reverse the decision.
“The decision is in the council’s court but that doesn’t change the fact that Knowle deserves better, and we have the passion, intelligence and funding to hold them to account.”