Posts Tagged ‘BERATE’

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Ashton Gate Tesco Plan “Is No Stitch-Up”

September 14, 2009

The councillor in charge of Bristol’s world cup bid has denied the council is “stitching up” the deal to build a Tesco on the site of Bristol City’s Ashton Gate stadium.

It’s after The Bristol Blogger revealed last week that the council owns nearly 20% of the land the club wants to sell to Tesco.

Critics claim, as a result, the council would be unable to make a fair decision on the controversial planning application.

Bristol City FC claims it is “essential” for it to sell the land to the supermarket giant to build its new stadium at Ashton Vale and bid to become a world cup host city in 2018.

But council Deputy Leader Simon Cook told Jones The News it was “absolutely wrong” to suggest the council could not make an independent decision.

He said: “On the face of it, it looks like the city council is stitching up its own planning wishes. But it is not, and it would be entirely illegal if that were to happen. We don’t do it.

“The city council owns 40% of the land in the city so we have to grant planning permission for our own projects all the time. We did it with the Colston Hall, the Museum of Bristol, a raft of schools in the area and several leisure centres.”

Mr Cook also again insisted the planning decision would be made independently of political considerations.

He said: “It’s a planning decision pure and simple. It will be considered under planning law, and will be entirely independent. It is not the intention of the city council to influence that. That would be illegal.”

But a campaigner from anti-Tesco group BERATE claims the value of the council’s land at Ashton Gate means selling it must be a political decision.

The law states any decision to sell land valued at more than £500,000 must be taken by senior councillors, and with the council owning 20% of the Ashton Gate land – valued at £20m – it appears to be worth at least £4m.

Chris Uttley said: “It would seem hard for the public authority to sell that land without it being a political decision.

“Even if planning permission is granted, without that land the development can’t occur. It seems to be some sort of political decision to renegotiate the lease or sell it to the football club.

“Simon Cook is choosing his words carefully. The decision to grant planning permission should be an independent one.

“But the decision about whether to sell the land isn’t a planning issue. It must be, partly at least, a political decision.”

Ashton Gate Tesco Plan “Is No Stitch-Up”
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Tesco Plan “Essential” For New City Stadium

August 18, 2009

Bristol City FC Chief Executive Colin Sexstone claims getting planning permission to sell Ashton Gate to Tesco is “essential” to the club building its new stadium at Ashton Vale.

He describes alternative plans for Ashton Gate as “laudable” but says no realistic alternatives have been put forward.

His comments come as the club formally submits its planning application to Bristol City Council, which it did on Monday.

Citys stadium plans

City's stadium plans

He told Jones The News: “Stadiums are expensive beasts, and it appears there is no public money available for this – as there might be on the continent. So it must be funded by Bristol City.

“The only asset we have is Ashton Gate, and we must raise as much money as we can. The difference between using this for food retail and a mixed use site could be as much as fifteen million pounds.

“If someone else can suggest how we could raise that money, we’re all ears. But no-one has suggested anything else as yet.”

The plans have only been submitted as outlines at the moment, but it’s thought the proposed store could be as big as 8,400 sq metres, about a third bigger than the nearby ASDA store in Bedminster. Tesco also estimates the supermarket would see a car arriving approximately every five seconds.

Colin Sexstone does not believe any alternative uses suggested for the site, such as housing or sports facilities, are feasible.

He added: “Unless someone can raise the money, they’re not feasible. If Bristol City Council want to raise £20m or so they can do what they like with it.

“But none of the suggestions that have been made – laudable though they are – can help us build the new stadium. The new stadium will be a fantastic community facility.

“The alternative is that, if we don’t raise that money, we will stay where we are.”

Campaign group BERATE, who oppose the Tesco plans, say on their web site: “This community has hosted and supported the club for 100 years and we believe that the club should leave an alternative legacy, more in keeping with the original use for this site.

“We propose that the site could provide new sports and play facilities for the community along with new housing. These will increase participation in sport and play, and provide much needed housing in this area.”

Audio:  Martin Jones interviews Colin Sexstone