Officials recommend taking smaller cut of hospital deal
PLANNERS at the city council look set to perform a U-turn on a multi-million scheme to transform one of Bristol's most historic buildings into luxury flats.
As reported in the Post councillors turned down planning permission for a scheme to transform the General Hospital in Redcliffe into flats, shops and bars.
The developer City & Country has already bought the listed building in a deal worth an estimated £6 million and had been holding talks with council officials on the scheme for months.
But planners threw the proposals out following a disagreement over the amount of cash the firm should pay the council in the form of a section 106 agreement.
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A public inquiry was due to be held into the decision and if the council had lost it would have been liable for hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of legal fees.
But the scheme is going before the council's planning committee next week and officials are now urging councillors to give it the go-ahead.
The U-turn came after an independent report was published recommending the council accept a section 106 payment of £150,000.
The council originally asked for £1.2 million but have now requested a viability agreement.
The agreement means that the payment to the council will be based on how much profit the development eventually makes but is expected to be in the region of £120,000.
Helen Moore, the managing director of City & Country, said: "We are delighted that officers at Bristol City Council, having received independent, expert advice, have now thrown their support behind our proposals, which will secure the long-term future of this much cherished local landmark and historic collection of buildings.
"The report is a clear validation of City & Country's argument that the Council's original decision to refuse our proposals in August was based on a fundamentally flawed and inaccurate viability report produced by a third party on behalf of the council, which made unrealistic demands as to the level of developer contribution and affordable housing required from the scheme.
"We now urge members of the development control committee to listen to their own officers and the overwhelming community support for our sensitive proposals and in so doing to make the right decision to vote in favour of our application."
The developer claimed that the council's rejection of the scheme signalled that Bristol was "closed for business".
The plan is to redevelop the hospital building and transform it into luxury flats and to build a new eight storey block of flats.