I would question George Ferguson's defence of the Bristol Civic Society as being 'well-informed' and 'part of the democratic process' ( AJ 31.1.02 ).
The society objected to our development proposal primarily on the grounds that it is too high and would damage the setting of the nearby SS Great Britain, but it suffered a convenient loss of memory about an objection written some 10 years ago by the society's current secretary to a previous planning application on this site for a development of a similar height on the grounds that it was not high or robust enough.
At the inquiry the society's same representatives were unaware of the number of objections to our scheme which had been sent in by the public at the time the planning committee resolved to grant consent for it. Over the past three years, immediately adjoining redevelopment proposals have generated 500, 160, 300 and 100 objections respectively. I still fail to understand what sort of mandate allows the society to support a government call-in for our proposal.
Democracy is certainly about tolerating and respecting minority views, and to that extent I can't argue with Ferguson's assertion that the society is part of the democratic process. However, it has always been my understanding that the necessary quid pro quo of the process does require the same minority views in turn to tolerate and respect those of the majority once these have been properly expressed. I hope Ferguson endorses this principle during his presidential candidature for the RIBA.
Richard Bellman, director, QuADA (Harbourside)