Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Let consultation commence

Earlier this week the city council published its site-by-site ideas for new development in the city. They bring together years of work and public debate about Bristol's green spaces (as laid down in the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy) and from the emerging Bristol Development Framework, the major document to guide land use for many years to come.

Both sets of proposals have been broken down into 'Neighbourhood Partnership' areas. The key links are the
BDF sites consultation and the
area green space plans: these lead on to the detailed proposals.


A key element of the Parks Strategy is to sell off 'low value' green spaces - meaning low value to the community, maybe high value to developers. Then the cash raised would be used, in part, to pay to bring other long-neglected parks up to scratch; and to provide a more uniform share of access to green space across the city. Only the Greens raised any objection to this unsustainable sale of the family silver in the dubious cause of uniformity and growth.

It looked like Stockwood was set to be a serious loser in this process, given that the ward enjoys well above average access to informal open space. In the event, we've got off more lightly than was feared (so far, anyway!). It's all spelled out on these pages, including a description of the "disposal" sites.

The ward's bigger proposed disposal sites are chunks of the field facing Sturminster Close, down to the brook; and the high-level part of the Craydon Road open space to the north of the path up to the shops from Showering Road (a service road would give access from Craydon Road). The smaller sites are the Craydon Road triangle, the Burnbush Close open space, two sites on Ladman Road, a small strip between the railway path and Hazlebury Road, and the green 'squares' along Stockwood Road at Maple Close (across from the shops) and Gillebank Close - I wonder what the residents think of that. Oddly, the other 'squares' further up Stockwood Road haven't been targetted.

For the substantial green spaces that remain, there are plenty of well thought out suggestions for improvement - but with the blunt warning that 'we cannot afford all of these' !

A year or two back, Heather Barham led local discussion about the how the strategy could affect Stockwood, and she certainly deserves congratulation for this work. There will be criticism of it, and constructive suggestion, and this gives us a good starting point. Consultation continues until Friday 29th October.


Still in my Nimby mode, I'll link to the Stockwood and Hengrove pages - and refer only to Stockwood in this blog.

This discussion of sites for potential development (or, at least, change of use) includes the green spaces mentioned above, but a number of others; some of them unexpected. There's the continued disposal of council-owned buildings and closure of facilities - in this case, the Greville day centre and home off Lacey Road.

Over on Wells Road, the Counterslip Baptist Church site seems to be coming up for grabs - apparently the "existing operators are aiming to relocate elsewhere in the vicinity" - so it looks like being another of those little residential infill sites, favoured by those who don't mind road noise.

The green square at Maple Close, across from the shops, could be used for houses or for offices. This is the only new 'employment' use I've noticed in the ward, which is a bit of a surprise considering the official concern about unnecessary travel to work in the age of Peak Oil.

Again, the consultation on these sites (and any others you might care to suggest) continues until October 29th.


woodsy said...

Hi Pete

Having seen such allegedly low-grade open space disposed of by BCC to developers (e.g. a strip of grass in Easton with 4 flowering cherry trees disposed of to a housing association), I've been thinking for some time of an e-petition on the matter. In my opinion disposals of land owned by the council, which they allegedly hold in trust for citizens, should be subject to a binding public consultation/referendum. What do you think?

Pete Goodwin said...

I agree.

I tried to avoid making judgments in that piece, or it would have gone on for ever! But it seemed to me that the whole Parks and Green Spaces strategy was flawed, because it couldn't work without selling off land. That meant the decision had effectively been taken before anyone had been consulted, or any land identified as 'low value'.

I seem to remember that the officers, or maybe the strategy itself, actually committed the council to oppose any future community attempts to protect open spaces by getting village green status. Again, decision first, evidence afterwards. You wonder who the council thinks it represents.

I like the idea of a petition, not so sure whether a token consultation, even if compulsory, would do the job

Anonymous said...

Hi all

As a matter of law, all open spaces have to be the subject of public consultation before disposal.

Its section 123 Local Government Act 1972.

However, the only real strategies to stop this disposal is:

a) objection through the planning process

b) application for town green status

c) political pressure


Anonymous said...

Bristol Parks Forum are organising a respionse to this, if anyone is interested ...