Campaigners hope stadium judicial review will get go-ahead

October 01 2013

Campaigners say they are hopeful that a judicial review of a new Sainsbury’s development in Horfield will go ahead with the support of local traders and residents.

by Rebecca Day

Campaigners say they are hopeful that a judicial review of a new Sainsbury’s development in Horfield will go ahead with the support of local traders and residents.

The application, which questions the validity of the planning permission granted to the development at the Memorial Stadium, was put forward to the council on September 11.

It will be considered by a judge in the High Court, who will decide whether a full review of the case should go ahead. If the decision to build the supermarket, in place of the Memorial Stadium, is found to have been made illegally, it could be overturned.

Bristol Rovers needs to sell the ground in order for the club to move to a new, 21,000-seater stadium in Frenchay.

Bishopston’s Green councillor, Daniella Radice, who has been involved in the Traders and Residents Against Sainsbury’s Horfield (TRASH) campaign, is concerned that the corner of Filton Avenue and Muller Road is the wrong location for a large supermarket.

Ms Radice said: “The area is already a traffic bottleneck and with the new Southmead super-hospital being built up the road, congestion can only get worse, along with air pollution.”

In order for the judicial review to go ahead, campaign group TRASH, needs to raise around £12,000 and they have called on the public for support.

Bristol’s Green Party, of which Ms Radice has recently been made leader, has made a donation towards the campaign, it has been reported.

Ms Radice said: “Six thousand people signed the petition against the supermarket so we know that we have the support of the community and traders.”

She added: “The council’s own retail assessment showed that the new Sainsbury’s will take £7.7 million a year from Gloucester Road, one of the longest independent high streets in the country.”

The new Sainsbury’s would be the largest supermarket in North Bristol.

Dan Stern, a trader from Gloucester Road, stated: “We want to make this clear that this isn’t an anti-football campaign – we have sympathy with Rovers wanting a new stadium – this is an anti-supermarket campaign.

“As traders we are deeply concerned that the planned Sainsbury’s will lead to shops and businesses on our unique high street closing.

“The fact is we don’t want or need another large supermarket sucking more money from the local economy.

“If residents want to stop this, now is the time.”

David Willingham – Liberal Democrat councillor for Bishopston – said he had concerns about the consultation process during the planning bid.

He said: “Having looked at the decision made, the council acted recklessly, they failed to consult and produced documents late. It doesn’t have the correct infrastructure to access it.”

He added: “It also won’t generate new jobs, there will instead be a net loss, contrary to what Rovers are saying.

“It will de-skill the people working there - they won't specialise in what they're selling. Lower skilled jobs means lower paid employees.”

Nick Higgs, chairman of Bristol Rovers, has expressed his disappointment that the application for a judicial review has gone ahead.

He stated: “It is a huge frustration for us, as we are desperate to get started – we are just weeks away from being able to start on site.

“This will delay the start of our development, but at this moment in time it is impossible to say by how long. If it goes to a full review, it could take several months.

“It is going to cost the club a lot of money. However, the important thing is that we get the stadium in the end - I still believe that it’s going to happen.”

He added: “The current judicial review process allows for a small minority of people to hold up major developments that can benefit the entire community.”

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson told Bishopstonvoice that he “totally respects” the people who are against the principal of a new Sainsbury’s development. However, he believes it is more about the process, rather than the principal.

He stated: “I don't like the Sainsbury’s more than anyone else does on the football ground. But I have to take a balanced view that takes all aspects into account in terms of sports provision and benefits to Bristol economy.

“Taking all things into consideration, I'm convinced the overall economic argument is for the total package, which includes a new Bristol Rovers ground.

“[The Sainsbury’s] pays for the whole of the new stadium, so it’s an incredible deal.”