Funny business at the Cheltenham Road Library site. The library building, occupied by Sisters Uncut last month, was recently FLOGGED by Bristol City Council to MD Homes for an unknown sum, somewhere in excess of £2.5 million. Some say it may even have been sold for as much as £9 million.
The council advertised the site for sale to developers claiming it had PLANNING PERMISSION for the “erection of 36 self-contained flats over an underground parking area”. But has it?
Permission for the flats was originally granted to the council’s development partner, Chatsworth Homes, in 2008. They were given the prime Cheltenham Road site in exchange for a new library they were supposed to deliver in Bishopston as the developers of the notorious BRISTOL NORTH BATHS site on Gloucester Road.
Alas, Chatsworth went BUST in 2015 owing Bristol City Council £3.4m in loans and leaving us to pay a further £1.5m to complete their BOTCHED and BANKRUPT development. We’ve therefore paid £4.9m for the new library that Chatsworth were supposed to be giving us for “free”.
Now it gets murkier … Chatsworth only managed to get planning permission for luxury flats at Cheltenham Road WITHOUT any affordable housing because they were providing a library as a community benefit instead. Since the new developers, MD, AREN’T supplying a library shouldn’t they have to meet affordable housing commitments instead?
That’s notwithstanding that the planning permission for the site granted in 2008 was only for THREE YEARS. Although MD Homes have quickly applied for “a non-material amendment” to this out-of-date permission requesting minor changes to the windows on the property. This amendment was conveniently waved through in a matter of weeks in February by council Planning Officer, Thomas Wilkinson, who forgot to mention anywhere that the permission was SIX YEARS out of date!
What’s going on here? Are we about to get another luxury development of flats with no affordable housing courtesy of our dubious planning department working alongside the council’s notoriously bent Property Services department?