Over the summer, the owners of the Eastgate Retail Park, Consolidated Properties Group, submitted plans for the redevelopment of the east end of the retail park. (170/01580/P) Currently the area comprises a drive-thru Burger King, a car park in front and an area of woodland behind.
The proposal is to replace the Burger King building with 5 new retail units and move the drive-thru restaurant into the car park. Rear service entrance to the units will be required, necessitating a service road which effectively removes the woodland. Marked for re-development were a fine 120 year-old Oak, protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), overlooking the roundabout and and an area of woodland also protected by a TPO which includes 12 specific trees with an understory of younger trees and bushes.
Over summer there was great public outcry about the loss of the prominent oak (Bristol Tree Forum) and plans were resubmitted which mark the oak, two poplars and an ash for retention, but with no change to the location of the buildings. The woodland area is still destroyed, leaving only three isolated trees from the original canopy and understory.
The aboricultural report produced by Matthew Bennett of the Bristol City Planning Department is very critical of the plans, pointing out that the proposal takes no account of the Bristol core strategy nor of the tree replacement scheme and remarks that “The group of trees are an important green infrastructure asset which has a historical reference and provided a significant visual amenity to an already heavily developed site.”
Consolidated Properties Group owns over 40 retail parks and retail units throughout the UK, having bought Eastgate in 2011 . The company is one the the richest family-owned businesses in the UK and is chaired by the founder, Peter Stuart Dawson. The company acquired Eastgate in 2011.
Looking at the aerial photographs of retail parks on their website, the absence of green spaces is very striking . Retail parks take up large areas of ground, comprising only buildings and tarmac. Very little land is given to green spaces or exposed ground. Trees where they are planted are largely functional, used for screening purposes.
Isn’t it high time that a significant part of retail parks should be reserved for trees and woodland. This is after all more in line with the meaning of “park”. If not, then at least we should resist the urge to remove what little woodland does still exist.
Public consultation on the revised proposal is now closed but comments can still be addressed to councillors and officers.
17th October 2017