Category Archives: Diggers & Dumpers

Our fine local developers

NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLEASE, WE’RE CHRISTIANS

Another day, another development before a planning committee of councillors in Bristol with absolutely NO affordable housing.

We’ve learned our dear old friends, the PG Group, the local multi-million property empire of dubious priest, Friar Gregory “Satan” Grant, have acquired a listed building, the EMPIRE SPORTS CLUB and its unlisted car park on Newfoundland Road, St Pauls. And, in a neat sleight of hand, they’ve put in two planning applications.

One for TEN HOUSES on the car park and another for 22 APARTMENTS in the listed building. All very convenient because the development on the car park falls below the minimum requirement for affordable housing while the listed Empire Sports building apparently qualifies for Vacant Building Credit (VBC) and is exempt from any affordable housing requirement.

So that’s a requirement for thirteen affordable units reduced to ZERO by the millionaire man of God. The only question now is whether councillors will let Friar Satan get away with this bullshit.

Watch this space.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT: FEATHERWEIGHT FLACCID FLOPPER REES vs THE PEOPLE

Avonmouth: unlawful poison plant too difficult and expensive for the council to enforce the law they are supposed to enforce?

With the Antona Court laundry case done and dusted, Avonmouth residents can now move on to their next legal target – the UNLAWFUL Day Group development of a poisonous bottom ash plant on Port of Bristol land right by their homes.

Day Group, with the help of the Port of Bristol and some hurriedly redeployed council planners, have built a POISONOUS and POLLUTING hellhole right next to a residential area in Avonmouth after dubious Bristol City Council planning bosses granted Day Group a ‘Certificate of Lawful Use’ in 2015 to build the plant. Although the council now admit this certicate was, er, “WRONGLY ISSUED“.

The council finally issued a Planning Contravention Notice to day Group late last year over the unlawful development but they are now DECLINING to enforce the notice and force the demolition of the plant as residents want.

“There would be very considerable DIFFICULTIES and EXPENSE in seeking the demolition of the structures,” they bleat, which might come as a surprise to anyone who’s not a major corporate player and friend of the Port of Bristol and the Merchant Venturers who’s built anything in Bristol without planning permission.

Instead, Day Group, having effectively NEUTRALISED any serious city council action over their poison plant, are now attempting to get the Environment Agency to grant them a licence to start killing the residents of Avonmouth with their profitable toxic shit.

Day Group also tried to get this licence last year but got KNOCKED BACK by the Environment Agency, so now they’re now appealing to the Minister of State for DEFRA, Michael “Govey” Gove.

This has resulted in the following EMAIL being fired off to DEFRA last week:

From: Avonmouth Resident
To:environment.appeals@pins.gsi.gov.uk” <environment.appeals@pins.gsi.gov.uk>
Sent: Friday, 21 July 2017, 16:10
Subject: RE – EPR/TP3138DP/A001 – NOTICE OF APPEAL MADE UNDER THE ENVIRONMENTAL PERMITTING (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2016 – REGULATION 31

Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The Right Honourable Michael Gove or responsible delegated officer

Environment Appeals Administration
The Planning Inspectorate
3/H Hawk Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol
BS1 6PN

Your ref: EPR/TP3138DP/A001
PINS ref: APP/EPR/511

Via e-mail.

Sir, Madam.

I am writing to you as I have been notified that the Day Group have appealed to your office in relation to the matters detailed above. I am writing as the closest sensitive receptor to the development, private householder and member of the Avonmouth Community Action Group.

I have a number of issues with the appeal as I understand it as presented to me by your office, please notify me of any errata or clarify my misunderstandings.

The Day Group (hereafter referred to as DG) have appealed the Environment Agency (hereafter referred to as EA) decision to refuse an environmental permit for their now constructed IBA plant at Avonmouth Dock adjacent to my property; I understand that the plant was constructed without the relevant planning permission being obtained from the local authority and that the Day Group are relying on the granting of a Lawful Use Of Land Certificate issued in error by Bristol City Council (hereafter referred to as BCC) as permission granted to erect the structure – Certificate ref:14/00824/CP.

DG have submitted a document titled: Avonmouth Grounds of Appeal 2.2 02 06 17-1.pdf (10 pages), which sets out their position and specific contested points of appealing the EA decision to you, for consideration as decision maker in those matters.

Your office has allocated 21 days from notice for interested parties to respond to you and a hearing will be set for later in 2017 (around October).

I do have a concern about the appeal process as set out currently: it would seem on examination of the document provided that DG have not actually included evidence for consideration, just a generalised statement that at some point they will be presenting statements of evidence that will illustrate that the EA were remiss and incorrect in their assessment of the original permit application; from my perspective this lack of detail, coupled with the restrictive timescale of 21 days placed upon me and any other notified individuals to submit our comments or evidence to your office, could disadvantage our cases and abrogate our rights unfairly.

BCC have issued a Planning Contravention Notice to DG as they have confirmed a material breach of planning regulations has taken place after DG started construction after BCC informed DG the permitted development rights relied upon did not cover an industrial installation. Letter from Jonathan Chick to the Port attached to this mail. Until the issue around planning permission has been resolved I do not see how the EA or the Sec State can grant a license to DG to begin operations as the site is both illegal and unlawful at present. BCC have indicated that should this matter go for retrospective planning permission it would be highly unlikely to succeed. I am in the process of giving instructions in relation to these matters and I am seeking a demolition notice to be served by BCC to DG to resolve the torts caused by the actions of DG and inactions of other parties.

I have included my original response to the application for your records and would welcome the opportunity to cross examine DG evidence at the hearing when eventually submitted for examination. Please let me know the dates so I can attend and give my own evidence for consideration as an impacted party.

The broad basis for my arguments against DG  are:

    • The definition of IBA as an inert and non-hazardous product rather than hazardous waste.
    • The failure of the planning framework, local authority and EA in permitting this site for industrial operations historically and for this development.
    • The failure of DEFRA and the previous secretary of state Liz Truss to act upon the known issues with this site and others permitted in the immediate vicinity previously.
    • The original submission by DG to the EA on points not appealed by DG.

I would like to be provided with any further submissions by parties involved in good time before the hearing, please forward when received. I reserve my rights to add to my submissions as evidence becomes available within the case.

Regards,

Avonmouth Resident.

Yes, you did read that correctly – ” I am in the process of giving INSTRUCTIONS in relation to these matters and I am seeking a demolition notice to be served by BCC to DG.”

The “Instructions” are from Avonmouth residents to LAWYERS and the stated objective is for the Day Group/Port of Bristol poison plant to go – regardless of what Bristol City Council’s bent planners overseen by a bunch of fucking useless councillors, cabinet members and mayors, in the back pocket of port-owning Merchant Venturers, want.

We urge you to watch this space. This is going to get very interesting indeed …

DODGY PLANNERS LATEST

More news on the Cheltenham Road library luxury apartment redevelopment, which is going ahead on land that used to be owned by Bristol City Council with no affordable housing whatsoever.

A letter written in 2011 by Peter Westbury, the Planning Coordinator, Development Management, to the then applicant,Chatsworth Homes, confirmed that the development could be implemented without further consent “on the basis of work undertaken on 12 October 2011”.

The letter explained that sufficient work on the development had been carried out within the three year period the application was valid to allow it to proceed without any further planning consent being required.

This is odd, because the building was still operating as a library on 12 October 2011, which also happened to be one day before the planning consent expired. What work was done on the development to negate the need to reapply for planning permission as the law requires?

Looks like another sorry chapter in the old story of Bristol City Council granting planning permission and then stretching the rules to increase the value of something they want to flog off.

Is that the Ombudsman we see on the horizon?

SICK COUNCILLORS PUT PARK ON ROAD TO RUIN

jon-wellington-1462720144

SPADstic and Lazy in happier times before they decided to fuck up one of the city’s parks and become objects of mass derision

We have an early entrant for our IDLE SELF-PUBLICIST COUNCILLOR of the year award. Please step forward Labour’s councillor for Windmill Hill, “Lazy” Lucy Whittle.

LIVID RESIDENTS of Windmill Hill and Totterdown – fuming over her and her politically ambitious colleague Jon “SPADstic” Wellington’s top secret plan to build a bloody great ROAD through their beloved Victoria Park – were desperately emailing Lazy Lucy in December only to be greeted by an out of office message.

“Thank you for contacting me, I am currently on SICK LEAVE but expect to be able to return to work within a few weeks, hopefully at the end of December,” bleated Lucy.

Fair enough. We all get ill and can’t work. But wait! What should pop through residents’ doors in late December/early January but a copy of the South Bristol Voice newspaper featuring a ‘Your councillors’ column written by none other than LAZY LUCY, merrily wittering away, without a care in the world, about the awfulness of the cuts she’ll be voting to implement this year.

What type of STRANGE ILLNESS is this that afflicted Lazy Lucy over the Christmas holidays? Too ill to reply to residents’ emails but well enough to write an article promoting herself and taking advantage of free PR in the local freesheet? Truly, an extraordinary condition.

Lazy Lucy and sidekick, SPADstic, may be trying to avoid residents after they supported a SECRET three month public consultation by cycling and concrete charity, Sustrans, into the so-called ‘Filwood Quietway’ through Victoria Park.

This is basically a plan – going to a planning committee next week – for a FIVE METRE WIDE ROAD for cyclists to SPEED through the park on. And, despite Lazy and SPADstic’s comprehensive three month consultation over the summer, virtually no residents knew anything about it!

Unless, that is, they happened to wander into a BICYLE REPAIR GAZEBO in Victoria Park on the afternoon of Wednesday 31 August or they were invited to a few mysterious PRIVATE, invitation-only meetings with the mendacious pair of Labour councillors and Sustrans’ posh engagement manager, Anais “Nincompoop “Leger-Smith.

To add INSULT TO INJURY, Lazy Lucy even used her South Bristol Voice PR column in October to discuss her road-through-the-park plan in vague terms, telling residents, “we are really interested in what the community thinks. So do let us know your thoughts,” a week after the consultation CLOSED!

Lazy Lucy also gave the road Labour’s SUPPORT in her column, telling residents, “[SPADstic and I] see this as an improvement to Bristol’s cycling infrastructure that will bring benefits to communities along its route.”

Now SPADstic, apparently alone and abandoned by sickly Lazy Lucy, and desperate to salvage his six-month car crash career is attempting a REVERSE FERRET at the kind of furious speeds cyclists will soon be doing across his local park.

As hundreds of objections pour in from residents – as they finally find out about the road SPADstic forgot to tell them about – SPADstick is desperately issuing VAGUE and PISS WEAK promises to support the residents he deliberately sidelined and ignored during the three month consultation.

Too little; too late we say. Why did Lazy Lucy and SPADstic DELIBERATELY allow this plan get to a planning committee before telling residents? And why – if their consultation with Anais NIncompoop from cycling’s concrete kings – has been such a comprehensive listening exercise, are HUNDREDS of residents and every community group and school in the area UP IN ARMS about it?

The plan needs to go back to the drawing board and these idiot councillors need to apologise to their residents for their appalling conduct and start doing their jobs properly. Or else.

OFFSHORE REGEN SCHEME SCANDAL

More local gossip: Shut down and offshored

More local gossip: Shut down and offshored

We kid you not … A flagship New Labour regeneration scheme in south Bristol, once described by former MP “Dim Prawn” Primarolo as “a dream come true”, has been moved OFFSHORE to avoid tax!

Touted as a solution for jobs, long term economic decline and inequality in a deprived part of south Bristol, the Morrison’s supermarket scheme on the site of the old council-owned Symes Avenue shopping centre in Hartcliffe opened to HUGE FANFARE in 2007.

Along with a supermarket paying CRAP WAGES and an enormous and under-used car park, this “first class district centre in which we can all take pride” included a community centre, a library and EIGHT smaller shop units that were supposed to accommodate LOCAL BUSINESSES AND RETAILERS and tick the “mixed use” regeneration box.

Bristol City Council assembled the land for this scheme at considerable EXPENSE to us. Paying through the nose to buy back – through compulsory purchase – their long-term lease on the old Symes Avenue shopping centre that had been shifted to an asset stripping firm, Panther Securities.

They also used their compulsory purchase powers to seize sections of residents’ back gardens in Holbrook Crescent so that these gardens could be transformed into an unused and abandoned section of supermarket car park. Again, at a CONSIDERABLE COST to us.

Once the costly development site had been assembled, the council handed the whole lot over to Morrison’s for FREE as a ‘sweetener’ to get the supermarket and its associated ‘benefits’ built.

Fast forward to 2014 and – with remarkably little fanfare – Morrison’s engaged in their own little land and property transaction and SOLD THE LEASE for the eight ‘local’ shop units on the site to a property firm based offshore in tax haven Jersey – BNP PARIBAS!

Now, in 2016, we learn that the locally owned and run hairdressers’ on the site – ‘The Local Gossip’  – has CLOSED after they were landed with an enormous RENT HIKE by their new offshore owners. And we learn the locally owned and run Post Office on the site is on the verge of CLOSURE due to the huge RENT INCREASE!

We are happy to report, however, that the four distinctly unlocal corporate retailers occupying the remaining units, like bookies, Ladbrokes, are having no problem affording the new high cost rents.

Meanwhile, shareholders at BNP Paribas are, no doubt, appreciating the cool double whammy of easy extra rental income extracted from a deprived area while not having to bother with the expense of paying much tax to help the community they’re BLEEDING DRY.

Now that’s what we call regeneration! Trebles all round!

SKUMMY SKANSKA SKAM

skanskaOur old friends over at wealthy Skandi uber-developers, SKANSKA, are working a new skam on Bristolians.

In an effort to get fashionable and down wit’ da kidz, the building firm with lots of local interests decided it wanted any hoardings around its HIGH VALUE LAND HOLDINGS at Temple Meads – now the subject of a new SECRET FINANCING DEAL with Bristol City Council – to be painted by local artists.

So out went the call from the multinational, which turned over HALF A BILLION POUNDS last year and earns a good slice of £73m a year from PFI deals with Bristol City Council alone, to a variety of edgy Bristolian street artists.

A few artists even responded. And some even asked how much they were gonna get paid by Skumska for their work? “NOTHING,” came the reply. “But you will get some great  exposure”!

These wealthy Skandi skum are taking the piss out of us aren’t they?

PARANORMAL PLANNING NEWS

Bristol Arena by night (Populous Arena team)

Paranormality at Bristol’s arena

Oh my aching sides … The DEFERRAL two weeks ago of planning permission for George’s deranged arena plan due to a complete lack of any transport planning was rather predictable wasn’t it?

How exactly did Mayor Congestion think he was going to get 12,000 people in and out of one of Bristol’s most CONGESTED areas without either a sizeable car park or some coherent public transport provision?

Less predictable, however, was the response of our old friend, Labour’s council leader HRH HELEN OF HOLLAND. Speaking about the transport planning shambles, she told the planning meeting, “I don’t blame the officers for that – the answers are just not out there.”

Really? So where are these bloody answers then if they’re “just not out there”? Should we get Mulder and Scully in to investigate this PARANORMAL EPISODE? Or maybe launch an expedition to find the LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS in case our arena transport plans are buried there? Or perhaps the little green men from Mars flew down and abucted these plans?

Because, of course, none of this fiasco can possibly be the fault of useless sad sack, INCOMPETENT COUNCIL BOSSES can it? After all, they only devised and promoted the arena development. What blame could possibly be attached to them if there’s not a basic transport plan?

The poor dears, struggling by on SIX FIGURE SALARIES and looking forward to a pay rise for being skilled experts in their fields, can’t be expected to produce plans at, er, a planning meeting for a multi-million pound development can they?

Not according to their Bristol City Councillor bosses anyway.

MAYOR: DEPRIVED? (OF ANY SENSE)

MAYOR- DEPRIVED? (OF ANY SENSE)On the same day it emerged that Mayor Hubris was spending up to £150m (and counting …) of OUR MONEY  on a series of pet commercial development projects around Temple Meads, he published a CRAZED ARTICLE on posh people’s website, the Huffington Post, explaining how he was tackling inequality in Bristol.

“We are targeting investment in the most highly deprived areas,” blustered the old fool. Although capital investment by the council in deprived areas such as Avonmouth, Hartcliffe and Southmead is NON EXISTENT. While basic public services run by the council in these areas such as youth, housing and libraries have been consistently CUT by Mayor Deluded.

Even a proposed HARTCLIFFE RECYCLING CENTRE, a useful public service and a source of employment in a deprived area, has been on the backburner because George alleges he can’t find the £3m necessary to open it. So is a polluted old diesel yard next to Temple Meads Station – the subject of about £130m of council investment so far for an arena – one of these “most HIGHLY DEPRIVED AREAS” then?

Other “MOST HIGHLY DEPRIVED AREAS” – all conveniently situated around Temple Meads and worthy of the mayor’s energies and lots of our cash – include the City Point office building directly opposite the station purchased with £9m of our money; derelict land at Temple Meads owned by Skanska and subject to a SECRET financing deal with the mayor and the George Hotel site at Temple Gate, which Mayor Moneybags wants to purchase for an UNDISCLOSED FEE amounting to millions in public money.

Or how about an uncosted eight-storey car park on the Bath Road being built entirely for the benefit of the “most highly deprived” ARENA OPERATORS? Or the former Post Office site at Temple Meads, which George is fattening up for sale in the hope it will pay for some of his over budget arena?

Try to find similar financial commitments in any of Bristol’s REALLY deprived areas and there’s none. Quite the reverse. Deprived areas are subsidising commercial property developments at Temple Meads on an epic scale.

Instead, as George explains in the Huffington Post, he’s tackling any genuine inequality and deprivation with a bunch of CHEAP, INADEQUATE AND LAUGHABLE policies. Any old policy pursued by George over the last three years has been hastily assembled into a list by a council PR and then abstractly rebranded as an anti-poverty measure.

“From 20mph, to RPZ, to metrobus, to engagement hubs, to 10,000 new primary school places, to children planting 30,000 trees, to a rainbow cabinet – all these are integral evidence-based policies that help secure a foundation to position Bristol to sustainability and fiercely tackle inequality,” waffles Mayor Gonad.

Really? Reducing traffic speed tackles poverty and inequality? Likewise, surely even the most DEMENTED of hippies is unlikely to claim children planting trees is a realistic solution to poverty and deprivation?

We could just conclude, at this point, that our mayor is a crackpot in need of a long lie down but anyone who thinks providing deprived areas with a few road signs and a tree planting project for kids counts as serious investment while simultaneously funnelling HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS to corporate property interests is clearly mendacious.

Vote him out in May.

ARENA: BREAKING THE BANK?

IS THERE A BLACK HOLE IN THE WHITE ELEPHANT?

Bristol Arena - white elephant - Dru Marland

The budget for mayor “Uncle” George Ferguson’s major VANITY PROJECT and RE-ELECTION STRATEGY is spiralling dangerously out of control.

Despite efforts from the mayor to GAG councillors from revealing the financial shambles, we know that CANCELLATION of any on-site car parking and the LOSS of revenue has smashed a £10m-sized budget black hole into mayor’s £90m Arena project.

Meanwhile a council Scrutiny Committee in August UNCOVERED a further £4m worth of costs for the project, pushing the total budget up to at least £94m.

Now it’s been revealed that the owners of the land, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), are DEMANDING payment for their land, which the council had originally claimed would be a freebie. The HCA are believed to want around £4m for the land.

So just a year into the project and costs have been already pushed up by around NINE PER CENT to £98m before a shovel’s got anywhere near the site. The total FUNDING GAP for the project is now at least £18m and this will have to be met by council taxpayers and through cuts to services already being hammered by austerity.

Concerns have also been expressed about other aspects of Uncle George’s funding proposals. He claims £53m will come from the City Deal ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND.

A complicated mechanism based on borrowing against any increased receipts from business rates in the TEMPLE QUARTER ENTERPRISE ZONE. At present there’s little sign of much growth in these receipts, which leaves Bristol council taxpayers, as lenders of the last resort, to pick up that tab too.

Uncle George claims a further £38m of funding will come from rental and operating income from the arena. Although this figure has been described to us as “VERY AMBITIOUS” and, again, any shortfall will have to be met by the council taxpayer.

Uncle George, however, remains wedded to his basketcase project, which was one of the few actual promises he made in his election campaign. Delivering an arena, regardless of cost, may also be the only chance this highly unpopular mayor has of getting RE-ELECTED.

So worried is Uncle George about these PRECARIOUS FINANCES being revealed, he got his useless new legal boss SANJAY “UNDER” PRASHAR to invent a so-called ‘BLANKET EXEMPT STATUS’ gag to stop anyone discussing them.

Uncle George now has also removed the responsibility for the arena from the council’s PLACE SCRUTINY COMMISSION who had been asking some tricky questions and given it to the friendlier OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMISSION.

The commission’s Labour Chair, STEVE PEARCE, has already been quoted as saying “I won’t be pushing the mayor too hard on this.”

Thanks Steve. Nice to know you’re looking after us so well.