Plans for cafe on The Downs set to be approved for a second time - despite dozens of objections

The cafe would replace dilapidated toilets that are said to ‘attract crime’

Controversial plans to replace old public toilets on The Downs with a cafe and education centre are set to be approved for a second time.

Bristol city councillors granted permission for an almost identical application in March 2019 to demolish the “dilapidated” 1950s block near Sea Walls off Circular Road, but that has now expired after three years.

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The old public toilets near Sea Walls off Circular Road on The Downs which are set to be demolished and replaced with a cafe.

Planning officers are again recommending giving the go-ahead despite 58 objections, including from Stoke Bishop ward Tory councillors John Goulandris and Henry Michallat, the Open Spaces Society and CPRE, The Countryside Charity.

A report to development control committee members, who meet on Wednesday evening (April 6) to make a decision, said the main grounds of objection were inappropriate development at the beauty spot, litter, light and noise pollution, parking issues and the impact on biodiversity.

It said the existing building “attracts crime” and that the application by The Downs Committee, which has 50-50 representation from Bristol City Council and the Merchant Venturers, has received 16 letters of support.

The plans are for a single-storey steel and glass cafe, replacement public toilets, outside decking and an education booth which will be a base for the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project.

Following planning permission in 2019, an inspector appointed by the Environment Secretary granted common land consent for the same development in November 2020, the report said.

It said: “The concerns raised relating to development of open space on The Downs are understood, however national and local planning policy do allow for development of open space in exceptional circumstances.

How the new cafe would look on The Downs.

“The proposals are found to qualify as the development would be for sports and recreational provision, ancillary to established use of the open space and offering benefits including improved access to, and facilities within, the open space which outweigh the loss of a relatively small degree of open space adjacent to the existing toilet block.

“The building is found to represent a significant improvement in comparison to the existing toilet block which is dilapidated and attracts crime.

“The design of the building would preserve the significance of the conservation area.”