Appeal over flats plan

A DEVELOPER wanting to build 42 retirement flats on the site of the former Staple Hill Infant School has launched a legal challenge to South Gloucestershire Council.

Churchill Retirement Living submitted plans for four-storey apartment buildings with one- and two-bedroom flats, communal facilities and car parking on the corner site in Page Road last September. The application was validated in October, giving the council three months to decide whether it would approve or reject it.

The time limit ran out in January and the developer has now appealed to the Planning Inspectorate over the council’s failure to determine the plan in time.

It means the final decision on whether to build the flats now rests with a government planning inspector, rather than local councillors.

In a document supporting the appeal, agents Planning Issues said the plans “accord with national and local planning policy, and in line with the presumption in favour of sustainable development…should be approved without delay”.

They said the site was a “highly sustainable location” at a a vacant brownfield site within reasonable walking distance of local services, and would make a positive contribution to the local economy by placing development where it is needed, to meet a “serious and significant” need for older people’s housing.

Churchill Retirement Living, which has already built New Pooles Lodge retirement development on nearby Staple Hill Road, also said the council had been unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land that would weigh against the scheme.

The old infant school building was demolished in 2019.

There have been five objections to the plans, mainly focusing on parking, congestion, design and the size of the development.

South Glos Council can still decide whether it would have supported or rejected the plans, and should therefore contest the appeal.