Monday, 12 January 2009

From Parkland to Parking

First published on Green Bristol Blog Sunday, 2 November 2008

The mass of Bristol City Council emails released last week following a Freedom of Information request includes many insights into how a section of the Bristol & Bath Railway Path came to be promised to Squarepeg against the initial advice of officers following the personal intervention of George Ferguson.

An internal email to the Strategic Director of City Development, David Bishop, dated 26th June, reveals that at the time Squarepeg had two development plans, one including the city council owned land that they coveted and another excluding it, in case they didn't get their way. A Portfolio Management Officer in the Valuation Practice of the Council emailed as follows-

I'm dealing with the possible disposal of land along the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path to Squarepeg. I am aware that you wanted to go over the proposals that Squarepeg had for the strip of BCC land within their developments prior to making any final decision on the disposal.

The attached plans show their proposals both with and without the BCC land, you'll see that without the land they will lose 25 parking spaces, part of the block of flats marked B, and a large access directly onto the cycle path.

It seems that the main difference that having the Railway Path land made at the time of the decision was that they could accommodate 25 more parking places (accounting for perhaps 250 square metres)! By comparison the land take for part of the block of flats would have been very small (20 square metres?) and the access steps from the Railway Path must be considered of dubious value for access from a path mainly used by cyclists (but more on that later).

So in essence the decision to sell part of the Railway Path green corridor appears to have been made to accommodate extra car parking! I wonder how those who support the Squarepeg plans feel about that?

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