Dear Neighbours, Friends and Supporters.
As promised, I am now on behalf of Newbridge Matters, able to advise you further concerning the 248 space park and ride extension on the donkey field at Newbridge.
Last Wednesday 15th January 2014. I saw that traffic cones and yellow markings had been placed in the existing car park, where I assume the Council wish the new road to be driven through to the donkey field, for the new car park.
I give below details of the actions we have taken and the present position regarding the donkey field car park.
There is one outstanding item concerning the footpath adjoining the south eastern side of the donkey field, which has yet to be resolved. It is possible that we may advise our Lawyer in London to take this matter up with B&NES Council, but even if this is done, it is likely to only cause a delay in the car park construction and not a complete cancellation of same.
As promised, we have done everything possible to try and prevent this car park from being constructed.
After the 248 space car park planning application was approved by the Development Control Committee [DCC] on 20th November 2013, our Lawyer in London submitted a 20 page Letter Before Claim, outlining the flaws in the Council's handling of the planning application, dated 17th December 2013 to B&NES Council. This letter was the first stage in the process for consideration of a judicial review [JR] to be carried out by a High Court Judge. A judicial review looks only at the legalities of the process rather than the merits of the extension.
The overall cost of a JR is many thousands of pounds, Barristers’ fees being hundreds of pounds an hour, so it was thought prudent to obtain further legal advice as to the chances of a Judge ruling in our favour, in that B&NES had not acted in an appropriate manner, and that costs would be awarded against B&NES Council.
Our lawyer sought counsel from a Barrister and the advice received indicated that we may not win the case; even though they considered inadequate information had been submitted on which the decision to 'approve' had been based. Even if we won the case, B&NES could then re-apply and grant themselves Planning Permission again.
After due consideration, it was thought that although we abhorred the way in which this car park had received planning approval, we could not run the risk of being involved with paying costs of such magnitude, and therefore our Lawyer advised B&NES Council that the JR would not proceed.
Apart from the matter concerning the footpath adjoining the south eastern boundary of the donkey field referred to above, it would seem that there is nothing to prevent the construction of the car park, subject to the Council’s approval of further details yet to be submitted to them, and as required under the Conditions attached to the approval, but upon which we will not be permitted to comment upon.
However, we are actively obtaining information concerning flooding of the area, including the maximum top water levels of the nearby river Avon, as the Council’s consultants advised them that the area will flood under certain conditions, advice which they appear to have ignored.
The planning approval of the car park is subject to many Conditions. Under no. 3, “a detailed surface water drainage scheme for the site” has to be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. In view of the importance of flooding, our Lawyer requested, on our behalf, to be allowed to see and comment upon any ‘scheme’ submitted, but we have been advised by them, that such intervention will not be permitted on this or any other ‘schemes’ submitted to them for approval, in compliance with the Conditions attached to the Planning Approval. The Council have advised us that “information will be available to view on the Council’s website, as and when these details are submitted.”
We have not received any information from the Council or its Contractor as to when work will commence on site. In view of the lack of any information concerning the start of works in January 2013, when we were able to stop the work from proceeding due to finding that the ‘assumed’ planning permission was not valid, we do not hold out much hope that further information will be forthcoming.
Armed with the Conditions of approval, we will endeavour to ensure that they are adhered to, but as access to the site during the construction period may well be with-held, this may prove difficult.
Your support and that of fellow Neighbours, Friends and Supporters is very much appreciated, without which we would not have had the will to continue this fight for so many years, against this very ill conceived development.
I hope this summary of events has brought you up to date with the position we now face, but if you think I can help further, please contact us preferably by e-mail.
With very best wishes for 2014 and good health to you all.