Bristol City FC stadium row costs 'unacceptable'

Ashton Vale
Image caption The club was granted permission to build a new 30,000-seat stadium on land at Ashton Vale in 2009

Costs of a legal battle over a 30,000-seater football stadium in Bristol have been described as "unacceptable".

Bristol City FC wants to build at Ashton Vale but some residents applied for the area to become a town green.

The town green inquiry, a subsequent judicial review and an attempt to mediate over the row cost Bristol City Council more than £234,000.

Graham Sims, the council's chief executive, said they were faced with "rising costs and legal stalemates".

"Clearly the costs to the local taxpayer of this long-running and tortuous legal wrangling over the Ashton Vale Town and Village Green application are unacceptable," Mr Sim added.

If the land was registered as a town green under planning legislation, it would block any future development at Ashton Vale - including the proposed stadium.

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request by the BBC.

The original town green inquiry had recommended that Ashton Vale become a town green but the council went against this advice.

'No defence'

It registered part of the land as a town green but the area where the stadium would be built was not registered paving the way for it to be built.

This sparked a judicial review which the council eventually withdrew from saying it could offer no legal defence to its decision.

A second planning inquiry is due to take place in 2013.

Much of the money spent during the inquiry was on legal costs - including almost £35,000 hiring planning inspector Ross Crail.

The council also spent £28,658 on legal advice from several lawyers over the case.

Another big cost was for litigation with the lawyers for the residents opposing the stadium totalling £58,196.

Mediation costs between the two parties came to almost £57,000.

A member of the Save Ashton Vale Environment group claimed had the council accepted the original recommendation from the planning inspector the cost would have been £35,000.

"We agree the amount spent on attempting to avoid the correct decision is unacceptable," the group added.

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