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Bradley Stoke is a town in South Gloucestershire, England, situated on the north side of the city of Bristol.[2] Bradley Stoke is Europe's largest new town built with private investment. The town was planned in the 1970s and building began in 1987 and was named after the local Bradley Brook and Stoke Brook streams. Bradley Stoke is not far from the Severn Estuary of the Bristol Channel. The town Bradley Stoke is bordered by three motorways on three sides. The M5 to the north, the M4 to the east and the M32 to the south. The Willow Brook Centre, Bradley Stoke's town centre and shopping hub, attracts more than six million visitors every year. The town is predominantly residential but was planned on a self-standing basis with retail, leisure and commercial areas in the North, South and Central areas, and various business parks on the outskirts of the town.

Bradley Stoke
Bradley Stoke is located in Gloucestershire
Bradley Stoke
Bradley Stoke
Location within Gloucestershire
Population20,599 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceST621813
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBRISTOL
Postcode districtBS32
Dialling code0117 and 01454
PoliceAvon and Somerset
FireAvon
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK Parliament
List of places
UK
England
Gloucestershire
51°31′45″N 2°32′44″W / 51.5293°N 2.5456°W / 51.5293; -2.5456Coordinates: 51°31′45″N 2°32′44″W / 51.5293°N 2.5456°W / 51.5293; -2.5456
Willow Brook Centre, the town centre.
The Leisure Centre
Three Brooks Lake, a man-made lake and nature reserve between Bradley Stoke and the M4 motorway

Contents

HistoryEdit

The area that is now Bradley Stoke was once a farmland north of the village of Stoke Gifford near Bristol city. The land was divided between the civil parishes of Stoke Gifford and Almondsbury. The area consisted of a number of farms, Bailey's Court and Watch Elm Farm in the south, Bowsland Farm and Manor Farm in the north and Webb's Farm in the middle. Some of the lands were used as pasture. A number of woods also existed, Sherbourne's Brake, Webb's Wood and the large Savage's Wood have all been preserved. Fiddlers Wood, the name of which lives on in Fiddlers Wood Lane was all but obliterated by the M4 Motorway. Baileys Court Farmhouse is the only original building that exists and was used as offices by the towns developers before becoming the Bailey's Court Inn. Watch Elm Farm was named after the Watch Elm, an elm of a legendary size that blew down in the mid 18th century. The Stoke Brook flows through the middle of Bradley Stoke.

During its development, the new settlement faced some problems in the wake of a national recession. At the time, Bradley Stoke was reputed to be one of Europe's largest private housing developments and did struggle to develop at first to establish itself as an identifiable town unlike other earlier new towns which were supported by a New Town Development Corporation, as the settlement relied principally on private investment within a restricted statutory framework of the local authority Northavon District Council within the Avon County Council area. A combination of private house builder led the development and with only limited input from commercial businesses and the consequent recession resulted in the new town gaining a reputation for being a soulless housing estate with only limited facilities and no town centre, with the exception of a Tesco supermarket. High-interest rates during the early 1990s soon led to the collapse of the property market in the area with many new homes falling into negative equity. This led to the branding of the new town as, accurately named, 'Sadly Broke'[3] until property values and the development market began to recover.

GovernanceEdit

Bradley Stoke has a Town Council made up of 15 Councillors elected from seven wards to administer the local issues. The Town Council is chaired by the Town Mayor and is assisted by the Deputy Town Mayor. The three standing committees of the Town Council acts as deliberative wings of the Council. Decisions of the Council are carried out by officers and staff employed by the Council headed by the Town Clerk. Bradley Stoke is one of the wealthiest local councils in South West England.

Bradley Stoke is part of the South Gloucestershire County Council which acts as its Unitary Authority. Bradley Stoke Town is represented in the South Gloucestershire Council by six Councillors elected from four electoral wards. Bradley Stoke occupies the central part of the Filton and Bradley Stoke Parliamentary constituency, which elects one Member of Parliament.

Twin citiesEdit

Bradley Stoke is twinned with Champs-sur-Marne, France[4][5] located in the Paris suburbs.

FacilitiesEdit

Many of the facilities in the town were to be funded by the housing developers from housing sales, via 'Section 106' planning agreements. When house building and sales slowed for a time in the late 80s, there was a significant slowdown in facility completion. This included the late provision of the road joining the North and South sides of the town, and also the completion of the doctors' surgery.

The town centre, Willow Brook Centre,[6] opened on 13 October 2008. Stores at Willow Brook Shopping Centre include Tesco Extra, Argos, Boots, Burton, Card Factory, Costa Coffee, Domino's Pizza, Dorothy Perkins, EE, F&F, Giant Bicycles, Greggs, Harvester, Holland & Barrett, KFC, Ladbrokes, O2, Pets at Home, Poundstretcher, Reflections, Shoe Zone, Specsavers, Subway, Tanning Shop, The Food Warehouse by Iceland, Timpson, The Works, Vision Express. Services at the Willow Brook Shopping Centre include Anytime Fitness, Aspirations, BT, CJ Hole, Explore Learning, Kumon, Leading Edge, Lionbridge, Logical, My Dentist, Ocean, Reed, Taylors, Waves car wash and Willow Clinic.

The new town centre was named by an anonymous resident as part of a competition run by Bradley Stoke Town Council in partnership with Tesco.[7] The centre is situated on the original Tesco supermarket site, and the redevelopment was approved by South Gloucestershire Council on 13 November 2006.[8]

The Bradley Stoke Town Council operates three activity centres located at The Bradley Stoke Jubilee Centre on Savages Wood Road, Baileys Court Activity Centre on Baileys Court Road and Brook Way Activity Centre on Brook Way. Each activity centre offers rooms and facilities to hire, and the provision of sports activities such as bowls, football pitches and hardball courts.

To the North of the town (often referred to as Bradley Stoke North—because building in the town was originally in two locations, north and south, eventually working towards the centre: for many years the two sites were separated by an expanse of green fields) there are a number of other facilities on Pear Tree Road. Including a Tesco Express, Prime Time Recruitment, Coral, a beauty salon, The Hollow Tree pub, a cafe and two fast food take away establishments. In addition, the town is served by an Aldi store (on the former Somerfield site.[9]). Between Pear Tree Road and the RAC tower, there is a Toby Carvery (formerly the Orchard Pub).

The south of Bradley Stoke (referred to as Bradley Stoke South) has a number of facilities in Bailey's Court, this included a Tesco Express store, a Solicitor's firm, Ocean Homes Estate office, St Peter Hospice, a nursery, the Beijing Restaurant and Bailey's Court Inn pub.

The Active leisure centre near the town centre provides access to a 25m swimming pool and a public library. Additional services at the leisure centre include a gym, beauty salon, Soho Coffee and a skate park. The leisure centre and library are host to many in house and local activity groups.

The comprehensive secondary school, Bradley Stoke Community School, opened in September 2005 and has the capacity for up to 1,120 students.[10] A post-16 centre at the school was completed in Summer 2010.[11] There are seven primary schools, which include ST Marys Catholic, Bailey's Court, Wheatfield, Meadowbrook, Holy Trinity, Bowsland green and Bradley Stoke Community primary school.

BusinessEdit

Vast employment opportunities are found along Great Stoke Way to the South, Woodlands Business Park and Almondsbury Business Park to the North, and at the Aztec West development. Situated in the parks are well-established businesses such as RAC, as well as various production factories, warehouses and offices. The business parks are facilitated by cafes and restaurants.

The further developments of the Willow Brook Centre and the addition of larger high street chains have increased the number of jobs available for local residents as well as boosting trade within Bradley Stoke. Businesses continue to be interested in the further development of the town centre, such as the planning application to build drive-through commercial units adjacent to Bradley Stoke Way.

Bradley Stoke attracts custom through passing trade from those exiting and joining the motorways and commuting, however since the expansion of the Willow Brook Centre both business owners and potential employees are attracted to the area. Despite the available employment opportunities, many residents commute from Bradley Stoke to Central Bristol or via the nearby motorway junction for work.

CommunityEdit

The Bradley Stoke community festival has been running since 2002 and is held over a weekend in June. The purpose of the community festival is to bring the community together with different activities and events, such as live music and sports.

The Town Council operates an annual fireworks display, in 2018 raising over £2000 in support of West of England MS Therapy Centre and the Stroke Association.[12]

WoodlandEdit

The Woodland areas of Bradley Stoke adopted the name Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, an area of approximately 60 hectares (150 acres) that includes bluebell woods, rough grassland, brooks, ponds, and the man-made Three Brooks Lake. The lake, part of the Frome Valley Relief Sewer[13], is home to many common species of waterfowl including nesting swans. There are also a number of other walks and paths surrounded by small wooded areas connecting various parts of Bradley Stoke.

The local Stokes Art Group (SAG) and the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group (TBNCG) teamed up for an art project to personify the God of Three Brooks Nature Reserve. The God was named Trolletheus, named after two rusted supermarket trolleys dredged from the man-made lake.[14]

SportEdit

The town's local football team is Bradley Stoke Town FC. The cricket club is Bradley Stoke Cricket Club.

MediaEdit

Bradley Stoke's news and media publications include Bradley Stoke Matters, The Bradley Stoke Journal, and the community radio station Bradley Stoke Radio.

Bradley Stoke Matters is a free community magazine and website which started up in 2005, following local news and events. The free magazine is delivered quarterly to every home in Bradley Stoke.[15]

The Bradley Stoke Journal is a free interactive community news website since 2007, following local news and events. and a free monthly newspaper delivered to every home. Since 2013 the free magazine is delivered monthly to every home in Bradley Stoke.[16]

Bradley Stoke Radio broadcasts over the internet via webcasts and on 103.4 MHz FM. Live broadcasts are regularly held during local community events, in Willow Brook Shopping Centre's town square, and at local festivals, featuring live singers and commentary directly from the events.[17]

CrimeEdit

Bradley Stoke is served by Avon and Somerset Constabulary. There is a local police beat surgery office located in the Willow Brook Centre.[18]

Bradley Stoke benefits from a low crime rate compared to other areas of Bristol. Categories of most commonly reported crimes in the area include theft, violent or sexual crime, anti-social behaviour, public disorder offenses and traffic offenses. In 2018, the crime rate reached its highest level for 5 years with over 100 crimes reported in the month of June.[19] The supermarket, leisure centre, petrol filling station and nearby pub are hotspots for the most frequent crimes[20][21]

Incidents involving arson[22][23], threats towards children and multiple counts of indecent exposure were reported in the area.[24]

Avon and Somerset Constabulary were criticised in early 2019 for having no active Police Community Support Officer’s (PCSO’s).[25] A police presence has since been reinstated.

Numerous acts of vandalism were reported around the Three Brooks Nature Reserve over the May Bank Holiday weekend in 2019. Incidents included two counts of theft, destruction of wildlife housing, damage to area signage and donated installations. One incident surrounding a community project to decorate roundabouts involved intoxicated individuals stealing an ornamental animal. The animal was returned but later damaged in a separate incident involving a car driving over the roundabout.[26]

The Avon and Somerset police crime statistics record that between May 2018 and April 2019 at least 900 crimes were reported[27] in the Bradley Stoke area. The crimes included 230 reports of anti-social behaviour (25.56%) and 256 reports of violence and sexual offences (28.44%). Other offences included bicycle theft, burglary, criminal damage and arson, drugs offenses, possession of weapons, public order offenses, robbery, shoplifting and vehicle crime.

ControversyEdit

There have been numerous examples of public disagreement and dispute involving residents of Bradley Stoke and the local governance over a variety of controversial topics such as transport problems and infrastructure, with business expansion and property development, or lack thereof, being subject to high levels of heated debate.

The 'Dewfalls and Wheatfield Drive Residents Association' (DAWDRA) was formed in March 2003.[28] The association initially formed in response to the construction of the new town centre following concerns about the proximity of the retail and parking areas to nearby housing, but has since challenged all aspects of the development and expansion of the town centre.[29]


Bristol Filton Airport

In 1993, a planning application was submitted by the owners of Bristol Filton Airport to request permission to fly commercial aircraft, turning the airfield into a functioning airport.[30] The proposal had strong opposition from the North West Bristol Conservative MP and local residents, leading to a five year legal battle and a protest group of 13,500 people.[31]

The primary objection was due to the noise levels from the few aircraft already operating on the airfield and concern that the noise level would increase, especially those living in the new residential area of Bradley Stoke which lay directly in the flight path of the airfield.[32]. The planning application and appeal subsequently failed and the proposal to use Bristol Filton Airport for commercial flights refused.

Planning permission was sought in 2008 and Bristol Filton Airport was sold to residential property developers in 2012 making way for 2,500 new homes in the now Charlton Hayes. [33] The closure marked the end of 100 years use as an airfield and was home to the test flight of the Concorde.[34] BAE Systems lost 19 employees and up to 60 contractors affected in the sale and closure. [35]

A Save the Airfield protest group marched against the sale and closure of the airfield in early 2012 with several hundred attending.[36]


Sports ground contract

The bowling green in Baileys Court became subject to a dispute over a rental agreement between the North Avon Bowls Club and Bradley Stoke Town Council, when the decision was made in 2007 to increase the annual rent by 54 per cent. Neither party came to an agreement and notice was served to the club to terminate the lease.

The North Avon Bowls Club initially agreed to pay the increased rent cost but failed to sign a new agreement.[37]

A meeting was held in April 2008 between North Avon Bowls Club and Bradley Stoke Town Council, but a new rental agreement was not agreed upon.[38]

Defying the notice of termination, up to 50 bowlers and supporters entered the grounds of the bowling green with the padlocked chain to the entrance gates severed. Avon and Somerset Constabulary attended prior to the group leaving the premises.[39]


Domino's Pizza

In 2010 a planning application was raised to convert a disused garage, previously used to house a floor-sweeping machine, into a Domino's Pizza food outlet in the developing Willow Brook Shopping Centre car park. [40]

Local residents had campaigned against commercial properties opening close to housing. Objections were raised against the planning application due to the proximity to local residential properties.

The planning application was refused by Bradley Stoke Town Council. Domino's Pizza later opened a successful takeaway and delivery unit in the main square of Willow Brook Shopping Centre, away from residential housing.


Supermarket opening hours

Local supermarket Aldi submitted a planning application[41] to extend the authorised operational and delivery hours. Under original consent at the site of the supermarket, working and delivery times were limited under strict conditions, with no deliveries permitted on Sundays and Public Holidays under any circumstances without prior consent of the Council.

The 2011 planning application sought permission to allow deliveries on Sundays, and extend operating hours and delivery times to 6am – 8pm Monday to Saturday and 8am – 6pm on Sundays and Public Holidays.[42]

An 843-name petition[43] supported the application, but the application was opposed by Bradley Stoke Town Council and one local resident. The application was rejected on the grounds that the applicant had "failed to provide enough information in respect of potential noise disruption at very early times in the morning".

A later planning application[44] was made in the summer of 2012 to request a variation in working and delivery hours attracting a supporting petition of 285 signatures from locals with no objections.

The Aldi supermarket in Bradley Stoke was granted permission for longer "working and delivery hours" despite opposition from the local Council. South Gloucestershire Council made the decision to overrule the objection by Bradley Stoke Town Council and allowed the store to operate for an hour longer on all seven days of the week.


Bradley Stoke Town Council relocation

A public consultation exercise[45] by Bradley Stoke Town Council for the consideration of relocating the Town Council office saw 133 responses, with a majority of 64 responses in favour of extending on the Jubilee Centre, 50 respondents were in favour of continuing to rent offices without relocation at a cost of £30,000 per annum.

Prior to the public consultation, the Bradley Stoke Town Council had secured a viable tenancy[46] within the Willow Brook Centre, but had later backed out of the deal. Those consulted via the public consultation were displeased that renting office space from Willow Brook Centre was not an option as part of the public consultation.

Town Councillors decided to proceed with the relocation following a narrow 6-4 vote, with those in opposition recording their objection considering the project to be "a misuse of public funds".[47]

The planning application was approved in late 2011 providing office space for seven members of staff, the estimated cost of the project was £400,000 with £100,000 approved to be paid from unallocated reserves, and the remaining £300,000 to be secured via a Public Works loan.

The Bradley Stoke Town Council officially moved[48] into the new expansion of the Jubilee Centre in June 2012, with a final cost of £300,000, a significantly lower cost than originally estimated. Despite this, there was a large public response who voiced their disagreement at what was described as a ‘waste of public money’.


Click and Collect pod

In 2013 planning permission[49] was sought for the erection of a Tesco ‘Click and Collect’ pod in the Willow Brook Centre to allow customers to collect pre-ordered groceries via a small drive-through pod. The proposal was halted and the planning application withdrawn following objections by Bradley Stoke Town Council.

There were also objections raised by two members of the public due to concerns regarding the proximity to nearby housing, the possibility of light pollution and the increased risk of litter in the area. Included in one objection was the suggestion that it would be more appropriate to construct the collection pod adjacent to Bradley Stoke Way. A revised planning application[50] returned in July 2013 with revised building location a short distance away from nearby housing and a reduced number of illuminated fascia signs. Despite the original objections, the revised planning permission was approved.


Three Brooks Pub

South Gloucestershire Council held a public consultation[51] to review the Three Brooks Pub licence following complaints from local residents. The pub, which is authorised to serve alcohol until midnight every day, had received complaints due to binge drinking, anti-social behaviour, breaches of licensing hours, noise, fights and public disorder. The complaint was recorded by a resident of nearby housing. The consultation gathered a heated response from nearby residents agreeing with the complaint, and from patrons who were quick to deny the allegations of loud noise and anti-social behaviour.

Supporters of the complaint echoed the sentiment by reporting the history of intoxicated residents loitering the street until 2am causing noise disturbance, breaking glass and fighting, with reports of police frequently attending the area. Regular patrons to the pub denied the allegations, regarding the premises as a charming establishment which was not prone to criminal behaviour and that the reputation was not fair. It was noted by supporters and that intoxicated residents were to be expected leaving a pub at 2am and that persons should not complain due to the pub existing prior to the nearby housing.[52]

Results from the public consultation were not published.


Parking

The Town Council came under fire in 2014 when a community centre operated by the Town Council adjoining the Bradley Stoke Surgery introduced a policy of chaining off a section of the car park to ensure parking availability to those hiring the community centre.[53]

On the side of the car park allocated for the Surgery use, only 25 parking spaces were available, some of which are used by staff. Visitors resorted to parking along the access road into the site causing difficulties for vehicles entering and leaving and, by the admission of both the town council and surgery owners, meant it would not be possible for emergency vehicles to enter if required.

A public consultation was held by the Bradley Stoke Town Council, with the majority 116 of 242 respondents being in favour of increased parking.[54] After a group set up to consider the results failed to come to a formal decision after more than two years, the issue returned to the Town Council. The Council decided to allocate £50,000 to build new parking on the tennis court area.[55]

A planning application was submitted in 2017 to create an additional 20 parking spaces.[56] Numerous objections were noted citing reasons including increased litter, increased anti-social behaviour, lack of CCTV in the proposed area, increased drug use amongst youths, and disturbance of local wildlife. There were also objections that the planning application would see 10 healthy trees removed to make way for the new parking spaces.[57] The planning application was withdrawn in late 2017.

The Three Brooks Pub introduced a pay and display parking scheme in 2011 due to customers of the nearby supermarket taking spaces and patrons to the pub being unable to locate a free parking space on the property.[58]

The Hollow Tree raised issue with the Town Council when they claimed they were losing up to £500 business per day because of staff and customers from other local businesses using the parking spaces allocated to the pub.[59]

Residents of Brook Court, a complex designed specifically for the elderly, reported to the Town Council that the parking provided at the property was insufficient. The complaints were raised despite the residents being aware of the property plan and facilities prior to purchasing the properties.[60]

Wheatfield Primary School received a formal letter of complaint from the local Neighbourhood Watch on Wheatfield Drive. The letter highlighted problems with parents and carers parking at the school at the beginning and end of the school day.[61] Residents were advised to report inconsiderate parking under a three strike scheme, where repeat offenders would receive a parking fine and three penalty points.


Food court trader plan

A multiple food trader presence was considered[62] in the car parks of the Bradley Stoke Town Council’s three community centres.

The plans suffered a serious setback during April 2014 after two key votes went against Bradley Stoke's Mayor when the committee voted to object to the licence application, with four councillors supporting an objection and four abstaining.


Fibre broadband

Despite broadband being available since the early 2000s with superfast broadband being available in the UK from 2008, many residents of Bradley Stoke were unable to receive superfast fibre broadband. While many earlier property builds had coverage, as many as 3,500 homes and businesses suffered very slow connection speeds as they were unable to receive superfast broadband, instead reliant on the Almondsbury Internet Exchange for exchange only connections.

Local residents, businesses and the local Conservative MP pressed BT Group over their lack of capacity and service reach, with campaigning starting as early as 2010[63], many becoming increasingly frustrated at the long delay in providing superfast fibre broadband coverage. The installation of the fibre broadband system began in early 2014 and was completed in early 2015.[64]


Almondsbury helicopter pad

As part of the closure of Bristol Filton Airport to allow for residential properties to be built in the now Charlton Hayes, a planning application in 2015 proposed the construction of a new operations base[65] for emergency helicopters (Great Western Air Ambulance Charity and National Police Air Service) with access from A38 Gloucester Road on land adjoining the Almondsbury M4/M5 interchange.

A number of complaints and planning application objections were raised by members of the public, primary concerns included the urban expansion into the Green Belt, and also that overhead emergency helicopters could become a dangerous distraction to drivers on the interchange. Despite objections, the application was approved.


Public transport

As the town of Bradley Stoke expanded, the primary bus route servicing the area came under pressure from residents due to ongoing problems with reliability. Reported issues of the 73 bus route operated by First Bristol, consisted of buses not arriving, multiple buses arriving at the same time, and buses terminating prior to arriving at the final route destination.

In 2015 a new MetroBus[66] service was proposed to be operated by Bristol Community Transport[67] under contract by FirstGroup, linking Cribbs Causeway, University of the West of England, Hengrove Park, Bedminster and Bradley Stoke via Bristol City Centre every ten minutes. The bus route would include travel along a new purpose-built bus lane system with tickets available to purchase either by using ticket machines at the bus terminals or by using the mobile phone application. The entire development had an estimated completion time of 24 months, but the actual completion time was 15 months overdue totalling 39 months, completing in early 2019.

The original plan for the MetroBus route was met with strong opposition, the outline for a bus lane was rejected after complainants claimed the route would save just twentynine seconds on the route.[68] A policy was introduced to ensure that no lay-bys would be introduced on the new bus route.

South Gloucestershire Council installed a set of five bus lane cameras[69] at a cost of £178,000 to monitor misuse of the road by unauthorised motorists, By September 2018 the South Gloucestershire Council reported to have issued 28,929 penalty charge notices since the first three cameras were installed in 2015 and collected £633,444.[70]

Coinciding with the new MetroBus service was a direct route called the T1 connecting Thornbury with Bristol City Centre via Bradley Stoke, also operated by First Bristol. The service was launched in 2018 and operates less frequently than the MetroBus service. After the initial launch, the T1 service came into disrepute due to staff shortages at the launch of the service.

The roadworks involved in the completion of these developments caused great distress to local motorists who were displeased at the roadworks in and around Bradley Stoke and leading up to Aztec West roundabout.

Local media outlet Bristol Live began reporting on the local bus service issues, the Bradley Stoke Journal publishing a tracker on their website[71] recording all social media complaints from customers using the new services gaining an extensive following from local residents. A mass protest rally was organised[72] on 24 November 2018 at College Green, Bristol, a common location for protests and rallies to be held The protest was organised following a formal statement and apology from the First Bus boss and admitting that there had been a shortage of 150 drivers, with support drivers being brought in from as far away as Cornwall.

In May 2019, the new bus services linking Bradley Stoke and surrounding areas was met with public backlash due to traffic increase at bus stops when passengers enter or disembark the bus. The policy of not constructing additional lay bys on new bus routes to allow traffic to pass buses at bus stops upset commuters in the area.[73]


New housing

Planning was proposed[74] for the development of 2000 houses on Woodlands Golf Course under the name ‘Woodlands Garden Village’, to include affordable homes, a new primary school, a retirement care facility and new sports facilities that would be available to local clubs. A formal South Gloucestershire Council e-Petition[75] was launched in 2018 to object the proposed development, backed by local Conservative councillors.


New bypass speed limit

As part of ongoing improvements to transport links in and around Bradley Stoke, 2019 saw a new Stoke Gifford bypass[76] opened to the south of Bradley stoke between Parkway North and the A4174 Ring Road. Residents started a South Gloucestershire Council e-Petition[77] to campaign against what is described as an unrealistic speed limit of 30mph, the petition raised over 500 signatures. The speed limit has since been increased to 40mph.


Commercial units

Planning permission[78] was sought for the construction of new commercial retail units in Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook Shopping Centre. The plan included the creation of two new units at the end of the existing shopping strip, with the addition of two standalone units adjacent to Bradley Stoke Way, a location previously suggested by local residents as a more suitable location for the construction of a Tesco Click and Collect pod, and the site of Waves, a successful open-air drive-through car washing business. The standalone units were to be allocated for use as drive-through food outlets Starbucks and McDonald's to operate on a 24/7 basis to correspond with the Tesco Extra and Tesco petrol filling station opening hours.

The application followed Willow Brook Shopping Centre customer feedback[79] which highlighted that there was insufficient food and beverage seating available in the busy food outlets.

The local Bradley Stoke Youth Football Club (BSYFC) Under 7's benefitted from free football kits as part of a nationwide scheme in 2018.[80] The club partnership was praised by England World Cup's Sir Geoff Hurst in 2014[81], and the club celebrated its 10 year partnership with McDonald's in 2018.[82]

Opposition to the planning application protested the construction of a McDonald's restaurant in particular, highlighting the proximity of the local schools in the area. As attention was drawn to the planning application, opposition to the proposed development from local residents amounted to over 200 submitted objections. Concerns by those in opposition to the planning application included the risk of increased litter, noise pollution, light pollution, food production odours, proximity to nearby residential housing, proximity to local schools, fear of anti-social behaviour, rising obesity rates and health concerns of residents who frequent fast food establishments. Under new legislation, members of the public were no longer eligible to access the council inspection meetings, leading to unrest amongst those who were interested in voicing their objections. Those in favour of the planning application matched the sentiment of the customer feedback given to Willow Brook Shopping Centre, that there was suitable demand for additional food outlets. Concerns were raised that a refusal may deter business expansion, harming the local economy. The planning application came under pressure from the Bradley Stoke Town Council with consideration to the environmental implications of operating drive-through units 24 hours per day near residential properties.

The South Gloucestershire Council Development Management Committee met on 24 January 2019 to consider the application, but the decision was deferred to allow for a site inspection visit. The Town Council and attending residents unanimously objected to the planning application and the decision was escalated to South Gloucestershire Council. Due to the complainants' objections regarding the proximity of the site proposed to be a McDonald's, the plan was compared to similar sites in the UK. The McDonald's was designed to be 50 metres away from the nearest residential property, where similar sites in the UK have McDonald's in closer proximities. The developer subsequently agreed to opening hours of 6am to 11pm for Starbucks, and 6am to midnight or 1am, depending on the day of the week, for McDonald’s.[83] Despite the revised opening hours, objectors maintained that the planning application was for a 24-hour restaurant.

On 21 February 2019, the planning application was put to the South Gloucestershire Council Development Management Committee again with the revised operating hours. The planning application was refused. In defiance of the refusal, a group responded to the decision by collecting petition signatures at the Willow Brook Shopping Centre in support of the commercial units and submitting the results to the committee.

The decision was deferred to be re-evaluated by the South Gloucestershire Council Spatial Planning Committee on 19 March 2019. The committee voted to refuse the application. Reasons for the refusal were the possibility of increased noise, cooking smells, and litter, the lack of security and that it was the opinion of the board that Bradley Stoke did not require additional fast food outlets, with one Councillor noting the troubled history of planning applications in Bradley Stoke, referring to the number of times that planning applications have received heated opposition from members of the public. The applicant has the right to appeal the decision within six months, at a cost to the Council budget. Councillors were aware of the cost of appeal prior to the decision to refuse the application by officers recommendations to approve the application. The decision was especially criticised by many in the surrounding Bristol area following the closure of a McDonald's restaurant in The Mall at Cribbs Causeway in March 2019.[84]

South Gloucestershire Council were criticised for publishing a petition in support of the planning application which contained personal details of over 100 supporting signatures. Members of the public complained about the possible breach of data protection under GDPR regulations. The information was removed from the public accessible planning application documents.[85]

An appeal application letter was submitted to South Gloucestershire Council dated 28 June 2019.[86]


Traffic calming

In November 2011, standard issue[87] rubber Speed Cushions were introduced in the signposted 10mph zone at the entrance to the Willow Brook Shopping Centre as a safety improvement to the 6 million visitors to the centre each year, the Speed Cushions were situated at the petrol filling station entrance and surrounding the marked pedestrian crossing.[88]

The measures were sought following popular demand by local residents, many of whom were within walking distance of the centre, due to frequent reports of speeding drivers. Requests were made that additional traffic calming measures be introduced for the safety of pedestrians and other drivers.[89]

Following the installation in January 2012, Bradley Stoke residents complained that the Speed Cushions caused increased traffic queues and caused "too much of a jolt" as they drove over them.[90]

In October 2012 the installation of a new set of traffic lights and a reduced speed limit on Bradley Stoke Way was completed to facilitate crossing pedestrians and bicycles.[91] The construction followed multiple incidents where children had been struck by motorists, one incident involving a motorcycle that had been travelling 67mph in what was a 40mph zone.[92]

In March 2019, the Speed Cushions on the entrance to the Willow Brook Shopping Centre were replaced with standard issue[93] full-width plastic Speed Bumps spanning across the road to prevent drivers from dangerously driving in between Speed Cushions. No changes were made to the pre-existing signposted 10mph zone. Complaints from local residents included concerns that the Speed Bumps could damage cars, that there was no speed issue warranting them and that they could worsen health conditions when driving over them. Reports suggest that the existing weekend traffic queues were significantly worsened in and out of the Willow Brook Shopping Centre, indicating that the speed restrictions were not being followed by drivers prior to installing the new Speed Bumps. The Speed Bumps were removed in June 2019 and Speed Cushions reinstalled following public outcry with evidence of increased traffic congestion caused by cars entering the Willow Brook Shopping Centre at the designated 10mph speed limit and discomfort to the driver having to drive over them on a regular basis.


Council notice board

The Bradley Stoke Town Council installed a noticeboard in the Willow Brook Shopping Centre in March 2019. The installation was met with criticism from the local media by stating that it was ten years late, referring to lack of agreement between the Town Council and the Willow Brook Centre management.[94]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/sources/census_2011_ks/report?compare=1170211808
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External linksEdit