A caravan club which is being forced from its riverside home in Bristol will soon discover whether it can move to a new spot down the river.
Baltic Wharf Caravan Club will eventually be made to move from its council-owned plot at the harbourside to make room for a new development of flats near the Cottage Inn.
After years of looking for a new location, and having its plans rejected in 2016, it finally won approval from Bristol City Council in October last year to move to a site between Ashton Court and the River Avon.
But the Government is set to decide early next year whether to overturn the planning permission for the land off Clanage Road, which was previously occupied by Avon and Somerset Police’s dog and horse training centre.
The secretary for housing, communities and local government “called in” the club’s planning application because the land lies in the Green Belt and has a high flood risk which the Environment Agency said posed an “unacceptable risk to life”.
A public inquiry was held towards the end of July, and Michael Gove is expected to issue a decision on the application in February, 2022.
The club’s regional manager Marc Houghton has previously said it manages other sites in high-risk flood zones – including the one at Baltic Wharf – and has an “excellent” track record in evacuating them without loss of life or damage to property.
The application was supported by business leaders who said it would rid the city of an “eyesore” and boost the local economy by £1.5million a year.
If the plans get the green light from Mr Gove, the club will replace the existing buildings with an amenities block, reception building and warden’s accommodation, and put 62 pitches and 57 lights on the site.
Council officers who recommended councillors refuse the application last year said the “visual clutter” and lighting would ruin views from Brunel Way, Ashton Court, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
But members of the planning committee who voted it through said officers had been “unnecessarily heavy handed” and that the proposal was important for tourism.
If the planning permission is overturned, the club will have to find somewhere else to go. Its application spoke of a “lack of suitable alternative sites” despite more than 70 others being considered.