Green councillors are very disappointed to hear that developers have now submitted an appeal direct to the Planning Inspector on the proposed housing development for the Chocolate Factory. The move follows a council planning committee decision on 30th November 2016 to defer a decision on the Chocolate Factory scheme for further discussions and negotiation.
The scheme proposed is for 135 apartments and houses at the old Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Factory in Easton. Initially, the developers- Generator (Chocolate Factory) LLP- said that they could not offer any affordable housing on the scheme at all. Following a major campaign by residents, developers made a limited concession on the eve of the matter being heard by the planning committee and said that they would build six affordable houses. This would amount to 4% affordable housing – still well below the council’s policy of 30-40%. This was widely seen as unacceptable by residents and the committee, so the decision ended up being deferred to allow further discussion between officers and the applicant.
These discussions have apparently produced no further concessions by Generator, the developer, and it seems they have now abandoned the discussions and instead gone to appeal. This means that the decision will be made by the Planning Inspector, who is likely to be less inclined to take account of the strong feelings that the community have on the subject.
Councillor Clive Stevens – one of the two Green Party councillors on the planning committee that made the decision – said:
“This decision shows these developers have lost their moral compass. The community wants affordable housing, the planning committee wanted affordable housing, Full Council voted for affordable housing, the planning officers wanted affordable housing – and even offered to relax some constraints to enable this – and yet the developer has decided to appeal. They will also be able to claim costs from the Council at a time the Council can’t even afford to provide adult or youth social care. Surely the best course of action, even at this late stage would be to withdraw or delay the appeal and start a proper negotiation?”
Stephen Clarke, Green Party councillor for Southville, who is also on the committee, said:
“I am very disappointed that the developer has taken this step. We understand that there was a process of negotiation going on with planning officers and certainly a negotiated settlement would have been far better for all concerned. This decision may mean that relationships between the developer and the community become even more soured than they are already”.
1. Full Council recently voted in favour of a Green motion calling for action to enable more affordable housing to be built across Bristol: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/news/green-affordab