Monday, 30 July 2012
The Civic Society have invited me to talk about the city's Walking Strategy, which I've been working on for the last three years. This is the document that lays out why walking is as important a form of transport as driving or cycling, and explains what the Council intends to do about it over the next 15 years.
This agenda got a really nice boost recently when the city was awarded £24 million through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. This is national money and Bristol got (I think) the second biggest amount of anywhere in the country. This will be used to fund a wide array of schemes to get people walking, cycling and using public transport more. It's impossible to tell, but I think that just having the Walking Strategy (with all the work that went into it from council officers, councillors and members of the public) probably helped to secure the cash.
Anyway, do please come along on Tuesday if you want to hear more about what's planned in the short term and what the longer term aspirations are.
Posted by Neil Harrison at 1:02 am
- Redland police station school site. This is going to the planning committee on the 6th August. I am happy with the school design itself, but I still have issues with the road safety around the school. There are lots of negotiations going on around this, so hopefully I will be able to withdraw the objection that I've made. In essence, I've been fighting for a zebra crossing on Elgin Park, a safe drop-off zone for those few parents who will drive, some form of one-way system for 'The Shrubberies' and measures to make walking to the school safer and more pleasant.
- Old ABC cinema. I'm happy to report that the old cinema on Whiteladies Road will not be becoming flats and a gym after the planning committee unanimously rejected the latest in a long line of planning applications. There are now two groups trying to bring this building back into arts/cultural use and this has to be a better option for the community. Of course, this isn't salient to the planning application, which I opposed on the basis of parking impact, ugliness and noise for the residents (who would be right above a noisy gym).
- Former Maskreys shop on Whiteladies Road. The planning application for this is now in (12/02407/F) and you can see my detailed objection on the Council's website. In brief, I am objecting on the basis of overintensification (too many flats in a small space) and especially that some of that space will be very noisy due to Sloanes bar beneath. While this is currently closed, it could reopen at any time with its 2am licence - not a great place to house people! I'm also worried about parking and waste management.
- 60 Ravenswood Road. This is a small site, but it's quite amusing that this is either the third or fourth application (12/02916/F) for the site in the last year or so - the developer obviously thinks the residents will get bored with objecting sooner or later! It's a back garden site and it's basically inappropriate for the small house that's planned for it. I will be objecting again and I'm getting to know some of the residents nearby very well indeed...
- Bargain Beers, Zetland Road. This is a slightly quirky application for a 24hr alcohol delivery service running out of the corner shop. I've objected on the basis that (a) it'll be noisy for those living nearby, with car doors slamming and engines revving up all night, and (b) I can't see how they'll adequately enforce child protection rules. Interestingly, the Police made very similar points. The hearing is on 2nd August. My over-riding feeling on this one is that the business model is flawed, so it's unlikely to happen even if it gets approved.
- Nisa, Chandos Road. The hearing for this one is 16th August. It's to have a 24hr alcohol and late night food licence for a supermarket in the middle of a highly residential area. It's one of the most ludicrous applications I've ever seen and there have been over 100 objections, I believe. The Police have objected strongly due to the clear scope for nuisance and disorder. I think that about covers it, but I've probably forgotten one or two!
- Costa. A joint independent inquiry was held over two days last week combining the pending planning appeals over both the Gloucester Road and Whiteladies Road branches. The former was denied planning permission twice for the conversion from office use to cafe use while the latter is the subject of an enforcement case about the number of tables and chairs allowed, having been denied permission for the numbers that are now in there. My colleagues Anthony Negus (other Cotham councillor) and Fi Hance (Redland councillor) gave evidence in person (I was away in London) and kudos is due to them for waiting something like four hours to do so! The result is expected in about six weeks, once the inspector has written their report.
UPDATE (30th July): Of course, I did forget one and probably the biggest one...
Posted by Neil Harrison at 12:50 am
Please accept my now-standard apology for neglecting this blog for a while - it's been a frantically busy couple of months with local issues like the new school (at the old police station), licensing applications and residents parking. More on those in future posts, hopefully this week.
I was travelling up to London on the train last week and I noticed that two schools in St Werburghs had huge solar arrays. This shouldn't have come as a particular shock to me as I pushed through the programme that put them there, but the sheer scale took me aback.
The Cabinet signed off the school solar project back in September 2010, laying out what was (and still is) thought to be the country's biggest project to retrofit panels to schools. We originally planned 80 small installations, but this had to be rethought when take-up from Bristol's 160 schools was less than anticipated - really quite disappointing, in fact. Only 30 or so schools came forwards, so we went for 30 mega installations instead!
That first phase is now pretty much complete. It has cost £1.1m, which will be recouped over around 15 years through the feed-in tariff. The panels will produce 557kW of power and this translates to about 220 tonnes of CO2 per year. Each school will save an average of £1,500 a year through the free energy that the panels produce, which they can spend on books and generally educating the kids instead!
These have all been retrofit schemes on existing buildings, but I'm happy to report that the new wave of schools being planned and built will all (probably - unless there's good reason not to) have them fitted as standard from the outset. This is certainly true of the new police station school, so they'll have get the benefit of free electricity from day one. This is all a direct result of the changes to the city's planning rules that were adopted last year, giving Bristol the toughest green building standards in the UK!
Posted by Neil Harrison at 12:26 am