Clifton and Hotwells
Improvement Society (CHIS)

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Michael Woodman-Smith
As in previous years, our approach has been to try to address issues strategically and attempt to build upon our reputation and successes. Wherever possible, we try to feedback our observations and comments to those with key roles in the planning process, for example the Conservation Advisory Panel (CAP), the Planning Department, the members of the Planning Committee, and our local councillor Barbara Janke. In a number of cases we have lodged, or help to pursue, official complaints. The following notes cover some of the planning applications where we have been fully involved:

McArthur's Warehouse

We were invited by the Civic Society to present expert witness at a planning inquiry called by the Secretary of State. When this was cancelled in unusual circumstances. We supported the Civic Society in their efforts to put the application before the planning committee to review the new circumstances. These efforts were eventually successful and many councillors were persuaded to vote against redevelopment. The decision in favour of demolition was made on the casting vote of the chairman, a remarkable result, and one that marked the turning of the tide with the local elections. The Civic Society has decided to file a complaint of maladministration with the Parliamentary and Local Government Ombudsmen.

27 The Mall (the former garage site)

CHIS have tabled objections to the scheme in terms of its total lack of car parking provision and its architectural effect upon the conservation area. Following criticisms put forward by both CHIS and CAP, the scheme has been substantially redesigned. CAP has referred the Council to CHIS regarding the numerous unresolved detailed design issues. Suspension Bridge Road Stopping Up Order: Following the public Inquiry, the Suspension Bridge Trust posted notice of two separate applications to DEFRA to develop their proposed visitors' centre on Common Land and on Clifton Down. On inspection of both notices, we established that both applications were defective. The drawings posted revealed that the building the Trust proposed to construct complied neither with their planning consent, nor with the road stopping up order, which had been approved at the Inspector's Inquiry, stage one of the process, stage two being the forthcoming court hearing. The building proposed was the one withdrawn a week before the Public Inquiry! CHIS notified the Trust's solicitors of this and the applications were immediately withdrawn; they remain withdrawn pending the High Court decision. Whichever way this decision goes it is our contention that the proposal is unlawful on at least four other counts.

16 Clifton Park (March 2005)

Following our support of the local residents, this application was withdrawn; we understand the residents are now negotiating to buy the land in question to create an urban garden. We were very pleased to receive letters of strong support and appreciation from the residents; many were not members before but have now joined the Society. We wish them well.

2-16 Clifton Down Road (W H Smith's to the Aruba Cafe)

CHIS have explained the proposals and our critique at two public meetings and a meeting of local traders. Following the first meeting, the scheme was withdrawn and totally redesigned. It remains unacceptable in our view; our critique was entirely endorsed at the September meeting of CAP.

The Observatory

We are taking a proactive role in the matter of the proposal to construct a`dome' at the Observatory. This proposal does not reflect or replicate the Victorian dome illustrated in an original watercolour dating from the mid C19. We have learnt that the applicants intend to proceed with the works in spite of our being assured by the City Council that they do not have a valid planning consent. We wish to prevent the matter becoming an enforcement issue by bringing it to the attention of all concerned now.

Canynge Road

Following our success at the previous planning appeal, Clifton College appointed Edward Ware Homes to prepare new proposals. Although CAP backed our objections to the revised scheme, the planning department, to our dismay, once again recommend approval. Over 200 local residents signed a petition. CHIS has continued to support the Canynge Road Campaign Group, and prepared a colour brochure for Councillors that illustrated the proposals and our objections. The brochure contained computer generated images that we had created. We presented these together with photomontages and a fly through movie in a short digital slide presentation to Committee. Although somewhat controversial, it was the first time this had been done here in Bristol. The Committee with a vote of 9 to 1 refused the application. The one member to vote for the scheme was a temporary member of Committee who had not received any documentation from us in advance. We are now preparing for a second planning appeal to be heard in February of next year. One very positive outcome of our efforts on the Canynge Road applications has been that our local Councillor Barbara Janke took up our suggestion of quarterly meetings between CHIS and the City Council. The first such mecting took place this autumn; it concentrated on the issue of car parking in front gardens. We hope that sufficient volunteers might come forward to survey residents in suitable Clifton streets that might be put forward to the Council as candidates. The aim is to protect the character of the streets and the conservation area from harm by further front garden car parking.
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