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Darren comments on Stoke Lodge Planning Appeal

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has commented on the news Cotham School’s appeal to the Planning Inspectorate for a new pavilion building at Stoke Lodge has been rejected.

Darren said:

“I’ve been advised the Planning Inspectorate (PI) has now rejected Cotham School’s appeal for a new pavilion building at Stoke Lodge.

I recently wrote to the PI voicing my constituent’s views after being contacted by large numbers of residents who were concerned about additional vehicle movements, including coaches, and the impact more parked vehicles would have on residential roads and road safety if the application got the go-ahead. The community, and I, are however not against the need to invest and upgrade in the pavilion in principle, but this can’t be done at the expense of residents and road safety.

The school’s appeal has now been rejected with the school being made to pay the council’s legal costs. I take no joy in seeing local schools spending money on legal costs and that’s why I have tried time and again to get senior reps from the school round the table to find a compromise to the whole Stoke Lodge saga, sadly they weren’t willing to continue discussions and we find a school continuing to fight a tight-knit community. The school failed to evidence adequate transport planning for this application and it would appear the introduction of a fence has also had some bearing on the decision to reject the appeal.

I’ll continue to support residents who are clear they want to work with the school so students – and residents – can all enjoy the wonderful open space at Stoke Lodge”.

Background:

As well as meeting hundreds of concerned residents on 8th December 2018, Darren has  shared his concerns with Bristol City Council following news reports that a fence at Stoke Lodge would not require the council’s consent and that the school planned to progress these works imminently. The council responded to Darren, local councillors and the We Love Stoke Lodge community group concerns on Friday 7th December, maintaining their new position that a fence did not require planning consent as would be considered permitted development.

Darren has been working closely with key community leaders and local councillors on this matter for some time having previously written to residents, the council and Cotham School about Stoke Lodge alongside chairing several meetings (designed to broker a compromise so both the community and the school can use the site) over the summer of 2018.

Darren has also previously met local residents, and separately with staff from Cotham School, to discuss the school’s use of Stoke Lodge green space which (the school propose) would include the erection of a fence, alongside a new changing room/ pavilion building (this application was rejected by the local authority and as yet has not been appealed or a new submission submitted).

Darren said prior to the meeting in December 2018:

“I’ll be meeting residents at Stoke Lodge on Saturday morning to discuss any updates following last week’s surprise media reports planning consent may not be required for any perimeter fence. Clearly this news was hugely concerning to the many residents and visitors who enjoy this important green space – which includes Bristol’s Tree of the Year. This green space is the only one in walking distance to many local residents.

We’ll also be discussing next steps so we can work to ensure the site can once again be used by the local community and school.

Stoke Bishop has one of the lowest crime and ASB levels in the city, with a close-knit and supportive community and it does not appear the school encountered any reportable near misses or incidents when the school previously used this site unfenced – it is therefore imperative risks are not overstated and the community and school work together to ensure this space is used in harmony for decades to come. I know community reps remain keen to continue engaging with the school and have suggested multiple alternative options. The multiple meetings I have chaired – where all parties were invited – were designed to reach a compromise.

I am obviously concerned to hear the council have continued to advise (including in the most correspondence dated 7th December) that planning consent will not be required for the fence as it is within permitted development rights.

I’ll continue to support residents, and help work towards a compromise, at every opportunity“.