Archive for October, 2009

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TESNO: Supermarket Giant Pulls Out Of Ashton Gate Deal

October 27, 2009

There will be no Tesco superstore on the site of Bristol City’s Ashton Gate stadium.

The supermarket giant has confirmed it has pulled out of a proposed deal with the club. The news follows newspaper reports at the weekend the club was now in talks with Sainsbury’s.

In a statement, Tesco Corporate Affairs Manager Juliette Bishop told Jones The News: “We are always on the look out for possible sites all over the country and the possibility of a new Tesco store at Ashton Gate was one such site.

“We were interested in the Club’s proposals should they get outline planning consent for a food store next month. Inevitably, not all of these projects move ahead to implementation.

“Having considered the Ashton Gate project at length, Tesco has withdrawn its participation from the scheme.”

“We wish the Club well in its ongoing efforts to deliver a new stadium and good luck to Bristol with its bid to be a 2018 World Cup Host City.”

Despite Tesco’s withdrawal, the club is still believed to be in talks with Sainsbury’s, though has refused to comment while negotiations are still taking place.

Bristol City Chief Executive Colin Sexstone said today: “There is no comment I can make. But we are continuing to push forward with a food store application for this site.

“At the moment that is the only way we can find to raise the sort of money we need to build a stadium. If we can’t raise that money, the whole project becomes unviable.”

Tom Griffin, a spokesman for anti-Tesco campaign group BERATE, said: “We just have to wait and see what will be applied for.

“Any new application could conceivably be a benefit but equally it could be as bad as having two individual stores, depending on the scale of the development.

“At this moment, we can’t comment on how we feel about it until we know what the plans will be.”

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Churches Claim Tesco Plan Is Betrayal Of Bedminster

October 23, 2009

Church leaders in Bedminster claim Bristol City FC is betraying its community and its “only real interest is money” in selling Ashton Gate to Tesco.

They claim the plan could lead to economic and community decline in the area.

Bedminster Parochial Church Council, which is the representative body of the Church of England in the area, has written to the city council to formally object to the plan.

In a strongly worded letter, it says “the reputed £20m which Tesco is offering for the site could be seen as equating to 30 pieces of silver”. In the Bible, Judas Iscariot was paid thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus to the Romans.

Ashton Gate Stadium Plan

Ashton Gate Stadium Plan

As well as the impact on the community, the church leaders object to the proposal on the grounds that the area already has enough shops, and that the plan would create more traffic noise and pollution.

They also claim it is “irresponsible” of the club to link the plan for a Tesco to its ambitions for a new stadium.

The letter says: “It would be a very serious business if Bedminster suffered an economic and community decline, because it was put forward that the superstore at Ashton Gate is the only way in which a new stadium could be built.

“While we bear no ill will to Bristol City Football Club, and indeed many members of our parish are Bristol City supporters, we believe that the club is not displaying a proper sense of responsibility to the community which has hosted it for many years.

“We ask that the Council will not grant permission for a superstore to be built at Ashton Gate.”

Bristol City FC claims it cannot fund its proposed new stadium at Ashton Vale without selling Ashton Gate to Tesco. It also denies the plan would harm local shops and says it would instead bring hundreds of new jobs to the area.

The club has recently stepped up its campaign for the council to allow the development, and now displays posters and banners inside and outside Ashton Gate that say “No Food Store = No New Stadium”.

Bristol City FC’s Chief Executive Colin Sexstone recently told Jones The News: “We are building a stadium for Bristol City and the region.

“The only asset that we have is Ashton Gate. It would appear that there is no public money for this, so it must be funded by commerciality.

“The difference between using this for food retail and using it as a mixed use site is as much as a net £15m. If someone else can suggest how we can make up that difference, we’re all ears. But no-one has been forthcoming as yet.”

Bristol City Council will consider the planning application for the Tesco on November 5th.

Audio: Martin Jones interviews Alan Baker from Bedminster Parochial Church Council

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Report Objects to “Inappropriate” Stadium Plan

October 5, 2009

A report by North Somerset council has criticised Bristol City’s plan for a new stadium at Ashton Vale as “inappropriate” to be built on the green belt.

The report attacks the proposed stadium’s appearance as “bland and imbalanced”. It also claims not enough has been done to make the site accessible for pedestrians, and calls for better car parking arrangements.

It recommends that councillors formally oppose the plans when they meet to consider the report on Thursday.

The report is a setback for the club’s ambitions but is a long way from being the final word.

The report acknowledges that the main decision should lie with Bristol City Council because most of the stadium’s impact, positive and negative, will be on the city itself.

Only 10% of the land earmarked for development is in North Somerset; the rest is within the city of Bristol.

But the report warns the stadium should only be approved if Bristol City Council is satisfied there are “very special circumstances” for granting permission.

Bristol City FC has already argued that there are very special circumstances which mean permission should be granted.

It says it has tried for the last ten years to find an alternative site, looking at around 30 different locations, but that none can be found.

Club bosses also cite the stadium’s economic benefits, creating 80 jobs during construction and 400 once complete. They say it could also act as a catalyst for the regeneration of south Bristol, and act as a potential world cup host venue.

Bristol City Council will consider the planning application on November 5th.

As previously reported on Jones The News, if Bristol is “minded to approve” the plans, it will submit them to the government for rubber-stamping.

Link: the North Somerset council report

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Minister Must Rubber-Stamp Tesco Plan

October 4, 2009

Any decision to fund the new Bristol City stadium by building a Tesco store at Ashton Gate must be rubber-stamped by planning minister John Healey, it has emerged.

Bristol’s council bosses have decided to refer the decision to the government for scrutiny, if local councillors approve the plans.

A council spokeswoman told Jones The News it was “standard practice” for councils to refer decisions this big and this controversial to government planners for checking.

In the case of the proposed stadium, it is because granting permission would break the council’s own planning guidelines, known as the ‘Local Plan’.

Artists Impression of new stadium and (inset) John Healey

Artist's Impression of new stadium and (inset) John Healey

Bristol councillors will rule on the Tesco and stadium plans on November 4th and 5th respectively.

If they are “minded to approve” them, they will be sent to the Government Office for the South West (GOSW), whose guidance must be approved by Mr Healey.

A verdict of “minded to approve” would be enough for Bristol to be considered as a World Cup host city, when the city hands in its final bid on November 6th.

Referring the plan to GOSW does not mean it is being “called-in” and subject to a public inquiry, but it is likely to make it more difficult for campaigners to appeal against the decision.

It also means the final word on the plans will not be made in Bristol.

A GOSW spokeswoman said it was hard to say how long scrutinising the plans would take, but that it was likely to take “months”. She added there was no time limit on how long they could take.

Pictured: artist’s impression of the new stadium and (inset) planning minister John Healey

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