Nursery schools and waste transfer stations don’t mix

St philips waste transfer next to nursery
St philips waste transfer next to nursery

20/03286/F | Erection and operation of a waste transfer station and ancillary structures, including a trailer shelter, a weighbridge and weighbridge office. | Swift House Albert Crescent Bristol BS2 0UD

Please help us stop this. Grundon’s attempt to build a Waste Transfer Station opposite St Philip’s Marsh Nursery School goes back to Planning Committee on Wednesday 28th April. It means a Nursery School surrounded by flies, stench, rats and air pollution. This is the 3rd time the same school has been threatened by an environmentally disastrous planning application. Each time we have had to fight to protect the children – usually called ‘sensitive receptors’ in the reports.

Click here to file your objection.

Objection to Planning Application 20/03286/F: Swift House Albert Crescent Bristol BS2 0UD – Erection and operation of a waste transfer station and ancillary structures, including a trailer shelter, a weighbridge and weighbridge office

Equalities Impact

This application fails even the most cursory review of discrimination and inequalities impact.

Firstly, it is inconceivable that this application would have gotten this far if proposed in any of the more Privileged parts of the City. Can anyone on the Committee name a facility that contradicts this?

Secondly, this is the third environmentally damaging Planning Application within 100 meters of this Nursery School. Again, can anyone find an example of this level of repeated development assault?

Thirdly, the protected characteristics of the children attending the school should automatically preclude anything but the most benign developments in the surrounding area. There is, rightly, concern about schools on main roads elsewhere in the city, so how can this planning application be justified?

Fourthly, we cannot ignore the impact on the mental health of the staff and parents of repeated threats to the children’s health of this series of negative planning applications. Coupled with the stress of operating a Nursery School during a Global Pandemic, it is remarkable that the school can still function.

Community Involvement Statement

There has still been no communication with the Community or local facilities like the school. Reliance cannot be placed upon Grundon’s use of Community Liaison groups elsewhere in the UK. If permission is granted, the establishment [and maintenance] of a liaison group should be a condition of operation.

Objections and Supporting Comments

Fourteen of the comments supporting the application came from outside Bristol, from places as far afield as Windsor, Sandhurst, and Gwent. This contrasts with the objections, all from Bristol and many local to the site.

Learn @ MAT the Meriton Adolescent Unit Is also opposite the proposed Waste Transfer Station but is mostly ignored in the Application.


Loading and tipping waste within the building may seem to satisfy the noise concerns. Still, the residents of Totterdown have frequently complained about the noise from Bristol Waste’s operations during normal working hours. Loading late at night when there is little other activity means will carry far further from this site and affect a far wider area.


The waste transfer will create problems. Assuming the company will operate at the highest standards is undermined by the experiences of similar assurances given to the residents of Avonmouth.

Odour is notoriously difficult to monitor consistently. Not allowing the problem to occur by refusing Planning Permission is the obvious solution. If granted, a monitoring system must be put in place with the onus on Grundon’s to remove the odour or disprove the complaint, rather than the Nursery School staff having to ‘prove’ a problem via an app like ‘OdourCollect’.

Lorry Traffic

It is hard to see how 116 additional lorries will not significantly affect the local traffic flow and patterns every day. Coupled with the impact of displaced traffic from the Clean Air Zone avoiding the city centre, the Totterdown and Avonmeads access points to St Philip’s Marsh will become overloaded at critical times of the day. Traffic displacement from the Clean Air Zone is ignored in the Committee Report.

Similarly, the access via Avon Street is subject to current traffic management discussions between BCC and the University

To argue that the Nursery School Children will not be put at risk by increased heavy lorry traffic because they will be accompanied by their parents/carers

  1. Displays a lack of knowledge about the behaviour and unpredictability of small children, and
  2. Ignores the lack of a safe crossing point

Further, the Adolescents attending the Learn @ MAT the Meriton Adolescent Unit will not be accompanied, and by their very nature, are likely to be young people who cannot concentrate or be always aware of their surroundings.

If granted, the provision of a pelican crossing opposite the school should be a condition of development. The current ‘informal’ pedestrian crossing is not adequate [as asserted in the Committee Report]. Indeed there is a current Community Infrastructure Bid for 3 Pedestrian Crossings on St Philip’s Marsh to create a safe walking route from the Paintworks to Silverthorne Lane.

Air Quality

The original objections remain unanswered, and the Committee report fails to distinguish between Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulates. There is growing evidence that the impact of Particulates is more severe upon human health than previously recognised. Ultrafine Dust from handling waste on the site is a serious threat to the health of the infants attending the Nursery school.

The entire report is based on modelling using sensor data from outside St Philip’s Marsh. There were no Air Pollution readings for St Philip’s Marsh until RADE [Residents Against Dirty Energy] installed Particulate and Nitrogen Dioxide sensors at the school earlier in September. The RADE sensor [#59364] can be viewed in real-time here []

Already their data indicates the situation on St Philip’s Marsh is both worse than the report states and normally higher than surrounding areas. The higher readings are consistent with the Marsh being an industrial area at the bottom of the Avon Valley. Time should be allowed for the gathering of accurate local air pollution data.

The Council must not forget that the ‘Sensitive Receptors’ referred to in the report are very young children [2-5 yrs] from some of the city’s most deprived communities.

In the middle of an industrial area, it’s hardly surprising that the air quality is poor at the bottom of a valley. Nothing should be done to make it worse. Tipping waste, storing it, then loading and unloading lorries are all going to make the situation worse.

Arguing that the Air Quality Management Area passes by on either side of the site ignores the fact that air [and pollution] know no boundaries and can easily travel 50 meters. So close to a Nursery School and an Adolescent Unit, the committee should apply the Precautionary Principle  – our children’s lungs are too valuable to risk.

Risk of an Appeal by Grundon’s

The planning system is supposed to protect the most vulnerable, not put profit above health.

No doubt the Committee is worried that if it refused the application, Grundon’s would appeal and, if successful, the Council will bear the cost. If the planning application is allowed, the Children of the surrounding deprived areas will bear the cost – for the rest of their lives – in reduced health and educational achievement.

It may sound emotive to challenge the Committee to put the Children before the cost, but the long term implications in this area of deprivation are almost beyond calculation. Those implications should/would be factors in any review by the Secretary of State.

The Committee is urged to reject this application.

Stuart Phelps

Chair – Plan-EL Neighbourhood Planning Group