Planning officers say proposed redevelopment of Broadwalk Shopping Centre should be rejected

An artist’s impression of the proposed development at Broadwalk shopping centreAn artist’s impression of the proposed development at Broadwalk shopping centre
An artist’s impression of the proposed development at Broadwalk shopping centre | Bristol World
The development will be reconsidered at a committee meeting on July 5

Planning officers have reversed their advice to councillors and now say the controversial proposed redevelopment of Knowle’s Broadwalk Shopping Centre should be rejected.

Last month, Bristol City Council’s cross-party development control committee unanimously refused permission to bulldoze the ageing mall and create an 850-home “village” called Redcatch Quarter, with buildings as tall as 12 storeys.

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That was against officers’ recommendation that the plans, which include demolishing the snooker hall, bingo club, multi-storey car park and shops and replacing them with flats, a cinema/theatre community space, a dentist and a pedestrianised high street connecting Redcatch Park to Wells Road.

The council’s policy is that all planning refusals that are contrary to the advice of officers must enter a cooling-off period, following costly successful appeals, with a report to come back to the committee with reasons for turning down applications that can withstand an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

That was triggered at the meeting on May 31, and the development will be reconsidered at the committee on Wednesday, July 5.

What is significant about the report before members next week is that the recommendation is now to refuse.

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Not every report that comes back to councillors agrees that schemes should be thrown out, with some insisting they should still be given the go-ahead.

In its recommendations for refusal, the report says: “Inherent in the number of homes proposed, the proposal would constitute an overly dense form of development of the site by reason of the height of the proposal, the proportion of single-aspect homes and the overall quality of the living environment that would be created.”

The other reason to turn the plans down is that there is no deal, called a “section 106 agreement” which requires developers to pay for things like road improvements, in place, so Redcatch Quarter would fail to provide affordable housing, even though officers and the applicants have agreed that 80 of the homes – 9.8 per cent – would be classed as affordable.

But the report adds: “The applicant has advised that they would appeal a refusal of this application and should this be the case, the inspector may be minded to allow this reason for refusal to be addressed via the agreement of a section 106 at that stage.”

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It says: “A high density of development is not a reason for refusal, but adverse consequences which flow from a density which is too high can support a refusal.

“The first adverse consequence that flows from the density of development proposed is unacceptable height.

“Members concluded that an appropriate density had not been found by virtue of the height of the proposal and therefore the proposal is contrary to [council planning policy] in so far as it not being informed by the local context of predominantly two-storey housing.”

The proposals have split the community, with nearly 250 residents lodging objections but others, including the two Knowle Community ward councillors, backing the revamp because they say it is badly needed.

The committee will make its decision on Wednesday, July 5.

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