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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Comments on the proposed development of the Colonnades


The current application revises proposals previously submitted by the applicant in July 2014 on which TARA commented in July and October of that year. This application was refused in committee and there was no appeal. TARA has consistently supported the aim of bringing the Colonnades into public use and finding a suitable role for the vaults below Grand Parade. We welcome many of the changes now introduced including in particular the removal of the north and south kiosks on Grand Parade and the undertaking, in most though not all supporting documents, that access to the Colonnades will be available to the public at least during the hours that Parade Gardens are open. We have no objection to the changes of use proposed and applaud the inclusion of D1 (museum) as an adjunct or alternative to the original A3 proposal.


It is therefore with regret that we must ask that a decision on the application be DEFERRED until matters of concern to local residents, particularly those living at the Empire, an apartment complex on Grand Parade immediately above the Colonnades, are adequately dealt with. Notwithstanding comments made in the Statement on Community Involvement there has been very limited consultation on the current application and as things stand residents still have unresolved concerns about various detailed design issues as well as operational matters particularly in relation to service access and the role of Boat Stall Lane.


Issues of servicing and the use of Boat Stall Lane and the Guildhall car park illustrate a weakness of this as of many such ‘shell and core’ applications where crucial details of interest to the surrounding community are lacking. Servicing of the proposed restaurant and/or museum complex is to be via a single lift on the corner of Grand Parade which is also to accommodate such visitors and customers as choose to, or have to, use it. The contribution of Boat Stall Lane to this regime is, as it has always been, unclear. In documents supporting the application the Transport and Parking Statement claims that ‘no vehicular access to the undercroft area is proposed’ but also that ‘goods and items that are too large for the lift can be brought down Boat Stall Lane’, two statements that appear to be in conflict.


In the Statement of Community Involvement where issues arising from consultation on the 2014 application are discussed the following comment is made in relation to Deliveries and Waste Collection: ‘Particular concern was raised about using Boat Stall Lane and the impact this might have on the East Gate. In response to this consultation the (current) design includes a lift to service the restaurant and dedicated waste storage areas within the restaurant premises.’ We have taken this to mean that the use of Boat Stall Lane for servicing the complex is not intended. However, where consultation with stakeholders on the current application is described the statement is made that: ‘The use of Boat Stall Lane is undecided and will be a decision of the chosen operator.’


The Planning and Heritage Statement claims that: ‘Waste will be stored within dedicated waste and recycling spaces below ground and will be transported up to street level via the proposed lift or on rubber wheeled vehicles up Boat Stall Lane for collection in accordance with a Waste Management Plan.’


Regrettably, there is no Waste Management Plan in supporting documentation. Whatever is actually intended it is by no means clear that the use of Boat Stall Lane as a servicing route is practical at all. During the consultation phase following the 2014 application numerous objections to the use of Boat Stall Lane were put forward, some by local residents and ourselves and others by the design team itself


Width restrictions on the Brydon Archway and on the manoeuvring of large public service vehicles within the Guildhall car park

Conflicts over the use of the Courtyard as a public car park

Access to the Empire basement car park

The historic status, gradient and optimum surface for Boat Stall Lane and the way its use for refuse removal and major deliveries could impinge on the amenities of Empire residents

The lack of a turning and manoeuvring area at the foot of Boat Stall Lane

Lack of parking/storage area for the ‘rubber wheeled electric vehicles’ at various times proposed


In our view the current application, rather than leaving the matter unclear and unresolved or subject to ‘decisions by future applicants’ should state clearly and consistently how servicing of the complex will work under various alternative scenarios and the role envisaged for Boat Stall Lane. It is not acceptable that such fundamental issues of feasibility, practicality and potential impact on local residents should be addressed in conditions attached to the present application (on which the council has stated it will be unwilling to consult with third parties) or deferred until applications by future operators are under consideration. The planning and design team has commendably gone to considerable lengths to obtain specialist advice on such diverse matters as traffic and transport, drainage, ventilation and noise attenuation, bat welfare and flood risk. It ought to have been possible to obtain the services of a specialist consultant to advise whether servicing arrangements for the proposed complex are workable and the role, if any, of Boat Stall Lane in these arrangements.


The current ‘shell and core’ application has, by its nature, only limited relevance to other ‘downstream’ operational matters such as lighting, hours of operation, attenuation of noise and kitchen smells and management of the construction process and residents have no means of judging the extent to which any consent based on the current application will commit future applicants to acceptable standards. The officers’ report to committee on the 2014 application did recommend twenty five conditions covering these and other areas but it is no clearer now than it was then whether the local community will be consulted on the likely scope of such conditions, what standards will be mandated, if any, whether future applicants will be bound by them or whether residents views will be sought when applicants seek to have conditions discharged. It is for these reasons that we ask that a decision on the application be DEFERRED until these matters are clarified. However, should the council be minded to grant consent under the current circumstances we ask that conditions be imposed which will ensure that no development can take place until this applicant, and any subsequent applicants, are committed to workable and satisfactory proposals in at least the following areas and that residents have an opportunity to consult on such conditions


Waste management

Management of service access and storage

Hours of operation

Other management issues including noise attenuation and removal of kitchen smells

Buildability and management of the construction process.

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