Legal row over flats plan

A CAR salesman has threatened legal action over new flats planned for Staple Hill.

The five flats, on the corner of the High Street and Victoria Street, will come with no parking spaces, and instead residents will be given bike shop discounts and cycling leaflets.

South Gloucestershire Council granted planning permission in April for developer Yellow Giraffe to extend the former Mark Richard insurance office, next to Jason’s Trading Post, converting the existing building into two one-bedroom flats, with an extension along Victoria Street accommodating three more flats, two with two bedrooms and the other with one bedroom.

The plans, first reported in January’s Voice, involve adding an extra storey on top of the exiting two-storey building, and constructing a large three storey extension on an existing car park.

But the council’s development management committee, which approved the plans, was told that if they went ahead without changes, the development’s bicycle racks would “block access” for customers to the nearby AB Autos car showroom, which uses the car park.

AB Autos owner James Brayley said: “In 1994, my late father came to an agreement with the then owners of 141 High Street that we would have permanent and unrestricted right of way over the first seven metres of the boundary wall from 1 Victoria Street. This is registered with the Land Registry.

“The proposal to locate the cycle and bin store on my right of way clearly breaches this agreement. If the planning permission is granted, it will be extremely difficult for myself and my customers to gain access to my business.

“If the plans are not revised, I’ll have no choice but to seek an injunction through the courts. I would suggest the developer finds an alternative location for the bin and cycle store, not on my right of way.”

Council planning officers said they had checked the Land Registry, and all of the site in the plans is owned by the applicant.

Arhitect Duncan Cryer, who designed the scheme, said: “10 years ago, we would expect a typical housing application to include parking, and office parking in particular in the centre of Bristol was in very high demand. However, over the last 10 years we’ve seen a significant shift in this.

“The site is in easy walking distance to the High Street, Page Park, a doctor’s surgery, dentist and leisure centre. The Bristol to Bath cycle trail is about 800 metres south-west of the site, as well as two other cycle routes approximately half a mile away.

“For trains, you’ve got Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway both within a half hour cycle or easy bus ride. While it hasn’t got any car parking spaces, in such a location we should probably be questioning why any project like this would have parking.”

Meeting report by Alex Seabrook