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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