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Author Topic: mean while just down the road from Parson Street  (Read 222 times)
infoman
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« on: May 18, 2022, 11:44:21 am »

Residents living alongside an overgrown railway embankment in South Bristol have said they are concerned after house-builders finally won a seven-year battle to develop the unusual site - and began work to clear the undergrowth this week.
The arrival of contractors to begin clearing some of the embankment in Ashton Vale and start work preparing the ground for what Bristol City Council described as a ‘major’ application back in 2015, was the first sign many residents living nearby had that the long saga was reaching its conclusion.
Residents and environmental campaigners have called on the developers to do more to save a range of specially protected species that they say live on the embankment.
But a couple who bought the embankment years ago have fought with council planners since the end of 2015 - and have now cleared the final hurdle to be able to completely transform the long, narrow site.
The embankment once carried railway tracks that connected the main Bristol to Weston line with the Portishead line - enabling trains to go directly from Weston to Portishead and vice-versa, without changing direction at nearby Parson Street station. The short curving line was closed decades ago and ever since, the embankment and the railway bridge over South Liberty Lane in Ashton Vale has been left overgrown and out of bounds.
Back in 2015, the owners of the land, a Aidan and Kevin Berkely, applied to Bristol City Council for permission to develop the site. The plan is to dismantle and remove the railway bridge over South Liberty Lane and level the embankment down to a similar level as the backs of the homes on Swiss Drive and the industrial estate on the other side. Once the embankment has been levelled and the bridge removed, the developers plan to build 17 new houses and a block of three flats - mainly three-bed homes, of which six would be affordable.
But the unusual application was not backed by city council planners. It was eventually refused in April 2018 by the council, who said the proposed access road to the new homes was not acceptable. The plan is to have a new road to serve the line of new homes connected to South Liberty Lane where the railway bridge is now - and council highway chiefs said that would not be safe enough.
The couple who own the land appeal to a planning inspector and in 2019, the Government inspector overturned the refusal, and granted them planning permission - but only if the issues of road access and other ‘conditions’ could be sorted out between the developers and the council.
They weren’t sorted out for another two years, and so eventually the applicants went back to appeal to the Government planning inspector again - with three different applicants to remove the conditions being imposed by the council.
Finally, at the end of April 2022 - almost seven years after the first application was submitted to the council, a Government planning inspector ruled in the developers’ favour after the council officers dropped their objections ahead of an appeal hearing - and even ordered that the council should pay the costs of the appeals.
Now, there is nothing stopping work on the site from going ahead - and the developers now have to come up with a schedule for removing the railway bridge, levelling the land and building the homes.
A bird's eye view of Ashton Vale. The green strip of land is the old railway embankment, with the homes of Swiss Drive below and an industrial estate above. The bridge over South Liberty Lane is in the bottom right of the picture. The developers want to remove the bridge, level the embankment and build 17 homes and three flats on the land, with a new road to that line of new homes connecting to South Liberty Lane where the bridge is now. Ashton Vale's Sainsbury's supermarket is in the top left of the picture, on the other side of the existing Portishead railway line - which is along the line of trees (Image: Google Earth)
For the residents of Swiss Drive, whose homes back onto what for them has been a green oasis of flora and fauna for decades, the arrival of contractors and machinery has come as a shock, given the seven year saga they didn’t know had ended.
“Work started today - we’ve had no notice from the developers at any point in the process, we’ve had no real contact from them,” said Jay Breitnauer, a local resident. She and other residents are also critical of the council's handling of the application.
“Residents have been fighting this for eight years - it was initially turned down by Bristol City Council multiple times. An appeal was meant to take place in March and a group of local residents were set to attend to have their concerns heard - but just hours before it was meant to happen, the meeting was cancelled,” she added.
She and local councillor Tessa Fitzjohn (Green, Bedminster) got in touch with the planning inspector, asking them to hear their case. “When he did come back, he said that planning share residents’ very valid concerns about the development, but that the highways team had had a meeting with the developer and discharged the conditions.
“The key issues are that local people have never been consulted on this development, have been ignored by the Government planning inspectorate and our final chance to have a say has been removed from us. We have had no information about what is happening now, and zero contact from the developer - we don’t even know who they are,” added Ms Breitnauer.
The arrival of workmen on the site - who erected a fence on Tuesday on the lane that runs along the back of the homes - has caused fear among residents that the land is being cleared.
“The land is home to a wide and diverse array of wildlife including slow worms, shrews, bats, a family of foxes and many nesting birds. This wildlife is now being put at risk by the actions of the developer,” Ms Breitnauer said. “We need an urgent halt called to activity on the site and local residents need to know what is happening. We need our voices heard.
“Over the back here there are slow worms, there are bats, dormice and shrews - all protected species. The ecology report hasn’t got any mitigation in there for them. We’re just really sad this has gone ahead without any real consultation with local residents, without any real consideration of the environmental impact,” she claimed.

Bristol Live spoke to the developers’ planning agent, who reassured residents that the work being done was only clearing parts of the site minimally, that an ecologist had deemed was ok to clear. They said an ecologist was monitoring the site and the work being done, and liaising with Bristol City Council regularly.
She added that the bulk of the work to clear and level the site could not be done until later in the year, because of the ecological sensitivities.

Bristol Live approached Bristol City Council about the saga and the work that’s happening now. A spokesperson for the council said: “We understand that developers are carrying out investigations to find out if protected wildlife is present. We don’t believe they’re clearing vegetation. Work has not started on the development.”

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Western Pathfinder
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2022, 01:49:18 pm »

Could you please provide details of the source of this article Infoman.
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paul7575
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2022, 02:07:16 pm »

I’m just wondering what this has to do with rail journeys between Bristol, Swindon and London?  Huh
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infoman
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2022, 02:27:45 pm »

Paul 7575
Because its under the forum section of

London to Swindon and Bristol
London to Swindon, Chippenham, Bath, Bristol and Weston super Mare

Westernpathfinder

Here it is, but I think because I use AOL it won't load on some computers
Could be the same gang that cleared the embankment by the up relief platform at Parson Street

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/seven-year-saga-ashton-vales-7091346
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