MP shows her colours

November 08 2013

More than 5500 names have been collected against TRASH's legal bid to prevent the Sainsbury's development.

The war of words over the decision to seek a judicial review of the plans for a Sainsbury's at the Memorial Stadium is hotting up. Rebecca Day reports on the two sides of the argument.

Campaigners 'heartened' by community support

Campaigners say they have been humbled by the community's support following an appeal to raise funds for their battle to have the Sainsbury's development reviewed.

The application for a judicial review, which questions the validity of the planning permission, was put forward to Bristol City Council on September 11. 

Traders and Residents Against Sainsbury's Horfield (TRASH) claims that the council acted "unlawfully" in its decision to build a new supermarket.

The application has been submitted to the High Court, which will decide whether the group can pursue its claim to a full hearing stage.

If the decision to build the supermarket, in place of the Bristol Rovers Memorial Stadium, is found to have been made unlawfully, permission for the development 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.

TRASH has raised "considerable" funds so far to pay for initial legal advice and campaign literature. However, tit is still calling on the wider community for further financial support.

Campaigners need to prove that they have enough money to cover their own costs, as well as the council's - should TRASH lose - before any proceedings can commence.

Bishopston's Green councillor, Daniella Radice, who has been involved in the campaign, said:“TRASH is heartened and encouraged by the excellent support from within our community and have raised more than enough money to cover our protective costs order. We are expecting a view from the judge soon on whether the review will be taken forward.

"The Conservative government recently brought about a number of changes, making it increasingly difficult to pursue a judicial review. These changes represent a cynical way to hinder a democratic right to pursue the injustices of unlawful decision making.

Ms Radice added: "In pursuing a judicial review we do not undermine democracy. The review is a 'keystone' of the democratic process. As it stands, the planning system is weighted in favour of the applicant, giving them the opportunity to appeal if a Development Control Committee turns down an application.
"We would like to say a big thank you to everyone supporting our campaign.”

Before planning permission was approved to build the Sainsbury's, TRASH gathered 6,550 signatures against the development.

A recent statement from TRASH read: "Together we hope to achieve a quashing of the planning approval and realise an acceptable outcome for this site for all - support Rovers but don't trash Horfield."

MP shows her colours

More than 5500 names have been collected against TRASH's legal bid to prevent the Sainsbury's development. 

Set up by MP for North West Bristol, Charlotte Leslie, the petition calls for the campaign group to "cease" their legal battle against the supermarket.

She said the TRASH campaign, which challenges the legality of the supermarket plans, shows a "disregard" for the long-term development of the city and the views of the majority of residents.

According to Ms Leslie, TRASH's actions could lead to a legal bill for Bristol council tax payers of more than £100,000.

She said: “In a democracy, everyone has the right to have a say but in this case, we have a tiny minority over-riding the needs of the city, and the views of the majority, in a bitter distortion of a concept of ‘rights’ - but little regard for responsibilities.

“It seems that every time a big, bold idea is put forward in Bristol there are small, niche pressure groups which use legal procedures to block the project, showing total disregard for the will of the majority.

Ms Leslie added: “Yet again a forward-looking group of people – in this case Bristol Rovers – are being held to ransom. This will only serve to line the pockets of lawyers.

The Bristol North West Conservative MP believes that independent shops thrive because of supermarkets, not in spite of them.

"Evidence shows that big stores will keep people in the area, not push them away."

Ms Leslie, whose constituency borders the Memorial Stadium, said many constituents - particularly in Lockleaze and Horfield - are "crying out" for a supermarket which is easily accessible.

Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs said: “I am heartened to hear a Bristol MP has picked up this unfortunate situation. This demonstrates the strength of feeling that too many schemes in this city have been stifled without bearing in mind the feelings of the majority.

“All we hear from the minority who are opposed is a focus on the supermarket but there is so much more to this scheme than just the new store – social housing, memorial gardens and parking for the shoppers in Gloucester Road. No one I have spoke to opposes any of that."

Bristol Rovers Memorial Stadium