The Bristol Post Newspaper Reports On Our 2nd Meeting

2nd Public meeting
Residents gather at Glenfrome Primary School to discuss battling the housing proposals Meeting held at Glenfrome Primary School 7pm 23rd March 2015

Reported in the Bristol Post Today:

A COMMUNITY is preparing to lock horns with a Bristol private school over plans to build homes on a playing field they say is a flood plain and a haven for wildlife.

People living in Stapleton are opposed to plans to build 12 luxury homes on the field belonging to Colston’s School.

Developer Woodstock Homes hopes to construct the homes on open land bordered by Welsford Avenue and Rowland Avenue, despite it enjoying protected status.

Residents say the field is home to a vast array of wildlife including bats, badgers and kingfishers. They have sought to fend off the plans by applying to have the land registered as a town green, which, if approved, would render it off limits for developers.

Last night, 50 residents gathered at Glenfrome Primary School to discuss battling the proposals, which have not been made the subject of a formal planning application.

Campaigners have set up a group called the Protect Frome Valley at Stapleton Community Association.

Chris Gibson, the association’s campaign organiser, said the field was part of a conservation area and designated important open space, as well as being a flood plain which had been submerged in recent years.

He said: “We don’t want this insidious, piecemeal development eating away at public open space. It’s not suitable for development – it’s designated for protection, which is what we are here to fight for.”

Residents said they had been disappointed by an exhibition about the development at the school, where, the meeting heard, representatives gave conflicting answers to questions and the headmaster was apparently unaware the field had been flooded.

Mr Gibson acknowledged there was a national housing shortage but said: “There’s a real need nationally for housing and we recognise people need somewhere to live but it’s a question of making sure they are building in the right place and not to the detriment of the general public for years to come.”

He suggested the school might have committed a criminal act by using a tractor during work to clear undergrowth on the field earlier this year, potentially damaging an active badger sett during breeding season.

Mr Gibson told the meeting there had been reports of several badgers walking around the streets, possibly displaced as a result of being disturbed by the work.

Residents were told the proposed homes would be up-market – worth more than homes in nearby streets – with neighbours estimating their possible market value to be between £300,000 and £400,000.

The meeting heard several residents feared that more than 12 homes might be earmarked for the open space, which is understood to be owned by the Merchant Venturers.

Colston’s School was unavailable for comment last night.

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Second Public Meeting

Dear Neighbours and Friends,
Now we have seen the plans for the proposed development on the site of the playing field, please join us for the second public meeting to discuss the way forward for our campaign.

Monday 23 March

The main entrance is off St. Johns Lane
                                                                                      

 AGENDA

 

  1. Welcome and Introduction
  2. Minutes of Meeting on Monday 9 March and Matters Arising
    1. i) Feedback from Colston Exhibition
    2. ii) Formation of Community Association
    3. iii) Finance: voluntary collection at end of meeting
  3. Reports
    1. i) Badger Report
    2. ii) Footpath Report
    3. iii) Flooding Report
    4. iv) Ecology Survey (Avon Wildlife Trust)
    5. v) Town Green Status
    6. vi) Other Reports
  4. Other Matters Arising
  5. Priorities for Action
  6. Any Other Business

 

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Public Exhibition at Colston’s School

At the ‘exhibition’ on Wednesday we learned that test drilling was planned as part of the geological survey required for the planning application. Given what we believe to be the case regarding the badger sett, I emailed the PR consultant and school Marketing Manager to inform them that we believed an offence may have been committed, and that any further works would require a licence. Any such licence is unlikely to be granted until the end of the breeding season in June.
The developers stated that their ecological assessment concluded the sett was not active and may be a fox den. This morning we have learned, thanks to Beryl, that grounds staff have been under instruction to maintain an exclusion zone around it when working in the area. I will leave it to you all to draw your own conclusions as to the degree to which we can trust anything the developers say. I attach a copy of the email I sent and the response.

Badger email

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Is the badger sett active?

We have had an expert come and look at the badger sett in the Field, and although he can’t be 100% certain he believes it is active and has reported the disturbance to Natural England, as the Regulatory body. He has also been able to confirm that the school did not have a licence to carry out the work and he says they will now have been told not to do anything else that might disturb them. He believes that the tractor has caused a partial collapse of the sett. This is the breeding season – therefore it is highly unlikely that a licence would have been granted for the clearance work. PLEASE – if anyone sees any badgers (dead or alive) in the Welsford/Rowland Avenue areas, post details here and we’ll pass it back to the badger people. Natural England are investigating, as it is possible the school may have committed an offence in disturbing and damaging a badger sett, and in carrying out work likely to do so without a licence. Details can be found here: BADGERTRUST.ORG.UK|BY LUKE ALDERTON

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