Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Coming VERY soon - The Big Open Space Sell-off.

 Neighbourhood Committees (the councillors, that is) are already being invited to decide which open spaces targetted by the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy should be sold off. I listed the sites, by NP, in this previous post.

First to be asked are St George (NP9) and Filwood (NP11). It's already pencilled in to the agenda for our next Hengrove and Stockwood NP, at Counterslip Baptist Church Wells Road, 7pm on the 20th March. The report's not yet available, but it will be on the lines of this one already tabled for the St George NP

In spite of Mr Grouchy's efforts to get a debate going within NP14, this most controversial subject seems unlikely to get any formal airing until until a few minutes before decision time.

The two Stockwood councillors (Jay Jethwa and David Morris) have already declared their positions anyway, to oppose all sales whatever 'incentives' are introduced. What point debate then, you might wonder? But the two Hengrove councillors, Sylvia Doubell (who'll be in the Chair) and Barry Clark are uncommitted. Their ward can only gain by sales in Stockwood.

So there is a debate to be had, and it should be seen to be done if the NP is to keep any semblance of community credibility.

Mr Grouchy's suggestion – that whatever sites are saved should be considered for voluntary registration as Town Greens – should have been considered at the last NP meeting, but instead it was talked out by the chair, and even the public forum statement that proposed it has been airbrushed out of official public view by being 'contained in the Minute Book' instead of being included in the online Agenda and/or Minutes, as is customary.

A little bit of practical background;

First, the 'incentive scheme'. This is based on approximate (ie commercially unsensitive) valuations of the sites. Sell the lot, you get 70% back to spend in your own Neighbourhood Partnership parks. BUT... sell less, and you get back disproportionately less. This graph illustrates it rather better than the NP papers do. Well, I think so.

Second, the proposal to request the city to voluntarily register the land as a Town Green. The government guidance is here.  There's no 'burden of proof', such as was demanded for Brierley Leaze, or for the controversial Ashton Vale applications. The council can just do it, even defining who (eg local residents) acquires the right to enjoy the Green. For example, last year Lancashire CC (as registration authority) agreed to Pendle Town Council's request to register town centre open space as a Town Green at Barnoldswick.

If a site's worth protecting, it's worth protecting properly.

And finally, why the protection of these spaces isn't simply a self-interested NIMBY concern. What we have is a sale that's driven not by any desire to improve a neighbourhood, not to provide appropriate land for housing or other developments. This is to purely to raise money for the parks by selling off land that just happens, historically, to be on the parks landholdings list. If land nominally held by the housing or highway authorities was to be more suited to provide necessary development, it doesn't get considered here. In effect the parks land sale drives a coach and horses through long established good practice in urban planning.

1 comment:

Sacredspring said...

Good points here. It's a nice thought that the council itself might initiate some town greens on the old discredited site allocation survey.
The value of the small green spaces to the local residents is far in excess of the benefit to be gained from the cash sell off.
And the Incentive scheme, surely that's just a cruel joke? I don't get that bit or see why a fair system of distributing sales revenue should have such repressive sanctions.