FOI emails

Emails between BCC Development Management Officers up to 16th November 2012 concerning proposed Sainsburys development on the Memorial Ground

The following emails (actual communications between the councils development management officers) summarised briefly in the correct sequence below, go some way to revealing how the case officer came to eventually recommend the scheme for approval prior to the planning committee meeting.  Full emails shown after summary.  Please note we felt it appropriate to remove the names of officers ourselves.

16th July 2012
Email showing  Officer3 identified first draft GVA retail assessment as objection to the application.  What happened after this?  Sainsburys produced a retail mitigation package.  See email 11th September.

11th September 2012
Email displaying  Officer3 finds amusement in the retail and other mitigation packages presented by Sainsburys consultants.

28th September 2012
Highways Officer 1 stating agreement and support with Highways Officer 2’s objections to the development

30th October 2012
Highways Officer 3 acknowledges this has been an ‘absolute nightmare’ but is likely to recommend refusal and see what committee think
Note Highways Officer 2 states ‘if the committee are minded to approve then we wont be landed with a death trap, just a totally inadequate scheme which will jam up the north of the city.’

7th November 2012
Highways Officer 1 produces a strategy on how the recomendation for refusal could be presented and states that it will need independent consultants to support a recommendation for refusal.
Note same officer states ‘everyone is getting really nervous with seeing the refusal through!’

8th November 2012
Officer 1 states what will be required to see the refusal through – something ‘definitive’.

9th November 2012
Highways Officer 1 to Officer 1, Officer 2, Officer 3 and Officer 4
Arrangements for planned Halcrow meeting stated(Halcrow are independent consultants bought in to support highways objection). Why Sainsbury’s Consultants (Connect) optimisation of local signals is not valid. Note also the 10% reduction in traffic due to ‘strategic alternatives’ had already been granted.  Despite both these indulgences Highways Officer 1 states ‘queues will be in excess  of 300m on the A38 and potentially network wide delays’.

16th November 2012
There is now a sudden change of direction.  It is reported Officer 1 will be offering Sainsburys 2 options first thing on Monday morning.
1) go away and model to our satisfaction, or
2) pay a sum now for highway works and get it through committee with a recommendation for approval.

Now crucially it takes 7 days to move from the preparation for refusal to Officer 1 reported ‘offer’ to Sainsburys.
How could this happen?  Highway Officer 2  says on the 16th November ‘If there was a deliverable scheme to make this work, we would have sorted out this application months ago’.

With the option to recommend refusal seeminly removed months of remodelling occur and then a last minute raised table design approved.   Highways development management described the traffic impact of this development to the committee as below:

  • Push local junctions up to 143% of capacity (urban design limit is 85%)
  • At peak times traffic cause queues the length of Filton Ave. between Muller Rd & Gloucester Road
  • People will use other routes to drive around – rat run or
  • Not make their journey at all

But they concluded that this is not a ‘significant’ impact.

Here are the emails in full.

From:  Officer3
To:  Highway Officer2 , XXXXX,XXXXXX
Cc:XXXXX,Officer2,,XXXXX
Sent: 16  July 2012 14:07
Subject: 12/02090/F – Memorial Stadium proposed Supermarket (copy)

Dear All,

Thank you for your help on Friday with the above application.

As I indicated on Friday, I have now received the draft comments from GVA, our retail consultant, which I send you for information. I think that this amounts to an objection to the application and provides you with an indication of the direction this current application is currently heading.

As discussed, if you could provide me with the most up to date bullet points setting out your individual concerns on the application as soon as possible, I would be grateful.

Thank you for your help with this.

Kind regards,

Officer3
Development Management
*** Attachment “Advice Report DRAFTv1.1.pdf” removed from message ***

From:  Officer3
To:  Highway Officer2
Sent: 11 Sep 2012 13:16
Subject: Memorial Stadi (copy)

Highway Officer2,

It was good to talk earlier on. I have attached the following for your amusement:

1. Applicant’s Response to Urban Design Comments
2. Retail Impact Risk Management Package
3. Revised Landscape Masterplan

Enjoy!

Regards,

To:  Highway Officer2
Sent: 28 September 2012 12:14
Subject Re:Sainsburys

See comments – happy to support you talking through with them and/or Officer2.

Highways Officer1
>>>  Highway Officer2  28/09/2012 12:09 >>>
Ok – here are the main points

Base model approved – reflects accurately what currently happens

Signal timings ‘optimised’ by applicants – they have changed the timings to make the junctions have more capacity.  By doing this they have removed several ped facilities, shortened ped signal green time and assumed peds called every other cycle.  New information provided has shown that peds will actually be present every cycle.

WE MUST INSIST THAT MODELLING REFLECTS ADEQUATE PEDESTRIAN PROVISION

New flows agreed and applied.  Queue lengths horrendous as shown in those drawings.  No evidence to show otherwise yet.

WE CAN JUST SHOW WHAT IT IS

Roundabout at entrance to store with no ped facilities. Existing Filton Avenue pedestrians deflected by roundabout. Roundabouts have notoriously poor accident rate for cyclists and aren’t great for peds.  No ped facilities for other pedestrian / cycle access on Filton Avenue.  NB Around 80 houses proposed within site too.

I THINK  PED FACILITIES NEEDED

Should it be approved any measures which may be able to reduce (not cure) the pressures on the junction will involve TROs removing parking and banning turns.  Likely to be controversial and no consultation has taken place on such measures.  Can’t be guaranteed that such measures will be able to be implemented due to public objection at TRO stage so back to square 1.  Councillors will need to know this.

AGREE, BUT WE NEED TO WORK UP OUR IDEAS

No undertakings towards a Travel Plan or any other mitigation.

NOT SURE A TRAVEL PLAN HELPS FOR A SUPERMARKET?

So not great at the moment.

Highway Officer2

Highway Officer2
City Transport
Bristol City Council
Wilder House
Wilder Street
BRISTOL
BS2 8PH

From:  Officer3
To:  Highway Officer2
Sent: 30 October 2012 17:15
Subject Re:Sainsburys

Thank you for all your work on this  Highway Officer2 – I realise that this has been an absolute nightmare.

I understand that there is a meeting on Monday, which Officer1  and  Officer4 will be attending. I assume that you are going.

I think that in the light of these comments we are likely to recommend refusal on these grounds and then we will need to see what committee think.

Thanks,

Officer3
Development Management

>>>  Highway Officer2  30/10/2012 16:02 >>>
Here is my draft.  I have a couple more additions to make but essentially this will be it.

I hope to be able to provide a shopping list of mitigation by the middle of next week.
I have been repeatedly called by the consultants who want to give me as much information as possible and try to get to an acceptable agreement.  I have to draw a line here.

There are a number of alterations required to the junction at Gloucester Road which I will try and iron out, so if the Committee are minded to approve then we won’t be landed with a death trap, just a totally inadequate scheme which will jam up the north of the city.

Out of interest – have the Ambulance Authority been consulted?

Highway Officer2

Highway Officer2

City Transport

Bristol City Council
Brunel House
St Georges Road
BRISTOL
BS1 5UY

From: Highways Officer1   
To:  Highway Officer2
Sent: 7 November 2012 21:31
Subject Re:Memorial ground – update

Highway Officer2

re below.

Plan of action

if you can draft the below I can sit down tomorrow lunchtime with you.

Given the pressure on us all in calling this one I have agreed with  that

a) I would like to review their submissions, key issues in a bit more detail so that I can stand there at committee and give confident advice

b) we get Halcrow in asap to do internal review (for us) to make sure that fresh eyes agree with us. I will line this up asap.

the reason for this is not to undermine you, very much the opposite, ensure we support your work and make sure we have a clear and watertight position.

I am happy to go to committee on this one , but would very much welcome your support to ensure we get our facts right on the night.

I was concerned Monday that you looked quite stressed by it all – don’t worry – the decision will be 100% collective with myself and  Officer3 owning it. The reason I need to do a) and b) above is to give Officer1 and  the confidence that we have gone the extra mile on this one and that there is no alternative course of action.

As you can imagine everyone is now getting really nervous with seeing the refusal through!

Hope that is clear. Catch up tomorrow

Highway Officer1

>>> Officer2  07/11/12 4:30 PM >>>
Officer1 had a call this afternoon from John Whittaker at WYG to discuss the transport concerns. John has asked if they could have a set of bullet points setting out what questions we feel have not been answered by their transport consultants and what are the fundamental sticking points – I don’t think at this stage we need to send them your detailed comments.

Could we get this to them by end of play tomorrow?

Thanks
Officer2
From:  Officer3
To: Officer1
CC: Officer2
Sent: 8 November 2012 12:09
Subject Re:Memorial

Officer1,

I have spoken with Richard in Democratic Services to alert them to the possibility of a meeting on 5 December. There is already a DC North Committee at 2 that day and there are four applications on the agenda.

Regards,

Officer3

Development Management

>>> Officer1  08/11/2012 10:54 >>>

Just asking – is the 5th Dec a possible Cmmtt? I’m getting v concerned re rec refusal and if we could force the issue on highways either resolving or more likely agreeing exactly what the impact is and being definitive I’d feel much better about this.
Officer1
From: Highways Officer1   
To:  Officer3;Officer4;Officer1 ;Officer2 ;
Cc:  Highway Officer2
Sent: 9 November 2012 15:22
Subject: Sainsbury’s

All

To confirm/Update

A ) agreeing traffic outputs

We have talked to the transport consultants today and below will get us to ‘agreed’ figures. They are attending 10am Monday to give us a complete set of the following model outputs

1) Base Year model
2) 2018 Reference Case (with not other optimisation etc)
3) 2018 With Development (with no other changes/optimisation)
4) 2018 With Development and assumed diversions circa 10%
5)  onwards – any of their other “optimised” tests they want to prsent

B) Why Optimising the Signals is not valid
Our signals teams will demonstrate why the current junction phases already optimise the whole corridor and that if you were to  make the changes they have made it would lead to significant problems up stream and down stream.

It is the context of the capacity up and down from this area of the network being the constrained – you can’t create capacity in a sub-area if the traffic has no where to go.

NB – It should be noted that whilst a key flaw in their approach this is a slight red-herring – even if we accepted all their optimisation it still shows queues in excess of 300m on the A38 – this would block back through Ashley Down Road and cause significant corridor and potentially network wide delays. The key is that without the optimisation it will probably be a lot worse – Monday will show us the figures.

C) Halcrow Review

Halcrow will come in 11.30 on Monday and we can present all the information and they will review.

Next Steps

– I hope we are in a position Monday where we have agreed changes and flows with the transport consultation.

– By hopefully Wednesday we will have Halcrow view, particularly on our view about Optimisation not being valid.

If we get A) sorted then I think we can pretty much decide on where this leave us and then have a discussion with WYG/Sainsburys etc.

– By (hopefully) Wednesday we will have Halcrow view on the optimisation issues and our wider conclusions.

Hope that helps, any questions please shout.

Highways Officer1
Highways Officer1
, City Transport

From: Officer2
To: Officer1
Cc:  Officer3
Sent: 16 November 2012 16:09
Subject: Fwd:sains

Officer1

I’ve spoken to XXX and he’s confirmed that we need details of the highway works prior to determining the application in order to show how the works would mitigate the impact of the development. He feels that the decision would be open to challenge if we did not have this information or if we were securing inadequate funding which would not adequately mitigate the impact. From looking at  Highway Officer2’s comments I’m not convinced we would be able to put a robust argument forward which may leave us open to challenge.

Officer2

>>>  Highway Officer2  16/11/2012 14:37 >>>
Just spoken to Officer1

She says that she will be offering Sains 2 options first thing on Monday morning:

1) go away and remodel to our satisfaction, or
2) pay £a sum for highway works now and get it through committee with a recommendation for approval

Just to let you know that in my professional opinion I support Option 1 but would be concerned about  Option 2 as it is going to land us in rather a large amount of trouble.  We do not have a suitable scheme that is deliverable and we have never had a reasonable scheme put forward by the developer.  If there was a deliverable scheme to make this work, we would have sorted out this application months ago.

If we accept a sum of money for ‘mitigation’ works directly related to the development, we as a Council will have a very controversial scheme to implement and will be exceedingly difficult to justify on transport policy grounds.

If all we want to do is deliver a mixed priority route in Gloucester Road I would anticipate a sum of £2M /km.  But this won’t sort out the congestion and safety problems on the junctions.

If we were approaching this correctly we would aim to be:

1) getting a fully agreed model – base and with development
2) identifying real accident and congestion issues associated directly with the development
3) proposing a scheme to reduce the impact of these to an acceptable level
4) securing such a scheme under s106 as the works would be directly applicable to the development

CIL would be payable on top of this.

I recognise that there are other key issues at stake here, and we are but mere cogs in this whirring machine, but the long term consequences on the effect of congestion and safety arising from making the wrong decision here should be seriously considered.  As well as any judicial review from Tesco.

Highway Officer2

Highway Officer2
City Transport

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