Successful demonstration

Demo 3We mounted a succesful demonstration on Tuesday outside the Passenger Shed at Temple Meads (City Hall is being refurbished) as a full meeting of Bristol City Council was being held. We also made 3  statements to the Council, raising awareness of our campaign amongst the Councillors: many of whom have confirmed their support for us. See gallery  for more pics.

Emma Collins gave the general context of our case and spoke from the heart about her feelings towards  the development.

After some confusion caused by the Lord Mayor changing the running order – and outspoken demands from our Ward Councillors that we be allowed to speak – Gareth Edwards gave a knowledgable summary of the key landscape and open space issues, followed by Chris Faulkner Gibson who made a plea for the protection of all designated green open space in Bristol.

You can read the statements here: Emma Collins 21 July Statement F1501870 , Gareth Edwards 21 July Council Meeting Heritage statement , Chris Faulkner Gibson Statement Green Open Space

You can watch the presentations here: http://tinyurl.com/o3pypzy and here http://tinyurl.com/nd4sgqj

We will be demonstrating outside when the Planning Committee meetto decide this application and will publish details here and on Facebook as soon as they are known.

Share This
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Public Demonstration 21st July

Please come and join us for a peaceful expression of our determination to protect this and other threatened green open space.

We will be demonstrating outside the next full Bristol City Council , which is being held in The Passenger Shed at Temple Meads (as City Hall is being refurbished).

The main meeting starts at 6.00pm and Councillors tend to arrive around 5.00pm. However there is a ceremony appointing Aldermen that starts at 4.00pm and many Councillors are likely to attend.

We want as many people as we can muster to gather outside the Shed from 4.00pm onwards and then to go into the chamber for when we present statements to the meeting.

Share This
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Press Release – Anger at threat to local beauty spot

Protect Frome Valley at Stapleton logo

Press Release

Anger at threat to local beauty spot

Planning application submitted for popular green open space

Frome Valley and Eastville Park.

Property developers acting for the Bristol Merchant Venturers have submitted plans that would see luxury houses built on a much loved green open space beside the Frome Valley Walkway and Eastville Park lake – in one of Bristol’s most beautiful and cherished historic landscapes – on land dismissed by the developers as ‘an unsightly corner’ (see picture below).
Local people have vowed to fight the plans and have formed a Community Association to organize their campaign.They say that this kind of insidious, piecemeal development threatens all green open space in Bristol, pointing out that the land is already protected within Bristol City Council planning policy1, but planning permission, if granted, would send out a signal that all green open space in Bristol was potentially available for development.They point to the recent CPRE report2From Wasted Space to Living Spaces’ – based on research by the University of the West of England – that shows Bristol has the capacity for to build more than 30,000 new homes on brownfield or previously developed land and that greenfield sites such as this do not need to be developed to meet housing needs. The report ‘paints Bristol’s use of brownfield land for development in a relatively positive light, saying Bristol City Council is good at encouraging the development of smaller ‘windfall’ sites, which means that they have less need to look at greenfield land for development’. Local residents say ‘this needs to be much more robustly enshrined in planning policy and that, as European Green Capital, Bristol should be much clearer in setting a national example in prioritizing brownfield development to protect green open space’.They also point out that the landowners, the Merchant Venturers, own Clifton Downs and share the management of Durdham Downs with the City Council.Campaign organizers are questioning how anyone proposing to build on such a unique green space purely for profit can be trusted with the stewardship of any important public space – will we see proposals for similar piecemeal development on the Downs?Earlier in the year, the proposed development site at Stapleton was brutally stripped of all vegetation and flailed back to bare earth before any ecological assessment was carried out. Locals reported the matter to the Police, believing that the clearance work had caused the partial collapse of a badger sett, and that this constituted an offence3. They were dismayed to see an area of dense undergrowth that had become a sheltered nesting site for birds and which supported such a variety of wildlife devastated at the start of the nesting season.Campaigners say this showed the developers in their true colours – as venal profiteers who sought to line their pockets at the expense of both the environment and a much loved local amenity. Local people have also been angered at the developer’s claims to have ‘allayed resident’s fears’ and say such claims have merely stoked their determination to fight the plans.The Protect Frome Valley @ Stapleton. Community Association4 are appealing to everyone who cares about the Frome Valley and Eastville Park – and the importance of preserving all such places across Bristol for future generations – to object to this application. Details and guidance can be found on the Association’s website http://protect.fromevalley.org/ENDS

Notes to Editors:
  1. Proposed development site is recognised in Bristol Local Plan as part of the Stapleton and Frome Valley Conservation area. It is also designated as part of a ‘Historic Park and Garden’ and as ‘Important Open Space’ for its amenity value, and as a ‘Wildlife Corridor’ for its importance to wildlife’. It is immediately adjacent to an ‘Area of Conservation Interest’. Such areas should be protected from development according to published planning policy. See http://protect.fromevalley.org/bristol-city-council-planning-policies/
  2. From Wasted Space to Living Spaces report published by Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and based on research by UWE. It is the first comprehensive figure for brownfield capacity in almost five years, and shows a minimum of 976,000 new homes could be built on identified brownfield sites across the country, with 30,000 in Bristol.
  3. The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 prohibits any work that might kill, injure or disturb badgers or their sett. Such work requires a licence from Natural England and it is unlikely that one would have been granted during the breeding season, running from December to June. The clearance work was done in early February. For further details see http://badgertrust.org.uk/
  4. Campaign organized by ‘Protect Frome Valley @ Stapleton’ Community Association. For details see http://protect.fromevalley.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/savefromevalleyatstapleton
Share This
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

BREAKING BADGER NEWS

BREAKING BADGER NEWS: on Saturday 2nd May, badger hair was found on the fence just a few feet from what local residents have long known to be an active badger sett, but which the developers have described (wrongly in our opinion) as a ‘disused fox den’. The hairs have been compared to photographed examples and descriptions on the internet, and we are in no doubt whatsoever that it is indeed badger and not fox or dog hair. Badger poo (also photographed) has also been found this weekend very close by in what appears to be territory marking, as it was not in a typical badger ‘latrine’. Some of the hair has of course been retained for expert analysis.
In addition to the sightings and video evidence of badgers in the vicinity in recent weeks, we believe all this provides further evidence that the sett is indeed live and any works in the field within 20m of it must only be carried out under licence from Natural England. We remain of the opinion that the previous clearance work and apparent damage to the sett was in breach of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
The developers have been advised, but just in case any work, (such as test drilling for the ground condition report needed for the planning application) might be attempted, we are asking everyone to be vigilant. This latest evidence is also being reported to the Police.

Guidance on contacting the Police can be found on their website. None of us are in a position to give definitive advice, but the Police can be contacted on 101 for all non-emergency matters, online at https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact-us/ or on 999 if the crime is in progress. The police control centre may well decide the call does not warrant a 999 response, but the initial advice is to call 999 if you believe the crime is actually in progress. The above web address gives advice on whether to use 999 or 101, but does not specifically address wildlife crime.

Photographing the badger hair - public footpath behind Welsford & Rowland Avenue. Badger Hair May 2015 - 3 Badger Hair May 2015

Share This
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Last chance to see this field in glorious late spring sunshine?

URL=/groups/savefromevalleyatstapleton/?_fb_noscript=1″ />Beth White, who took this lovely photo, said ‘Lush green field or yet ANOTHER housing estate ?? I know what I’d prefer’. A sentiment we’d all echo. Campaign details in Protect Frome Valley – FAQ’s 1

See our Facebook page for more – and please feel free to join us if you want to save this green open space for future generations.

Share This
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

ANGER AT DEVELOPERS CLAIM RESIDENTS’ FEARS HAVE BEEN ‘ALLAYED’

A Bristol Post article claiming our fears had been ‘allayed’ by the developers was greeted with anger by everyone who read it. Read the article, and then scroll down for our response, also published on the Bristol Post website.

‘A BRISTOL private school and developer have moved to allay residents’ fears over plans to create homes on a playing field they claim is a floodplain and wildlife habitat. People living close to Colston’s School in Stapleton have raised objections to proposals to build 12 luxury houses on part of the school’s playing field off Welsford Avenue.

At a public meeting last month, residents said the field was home to a vast array of wildlife including bats, badgers and kingfishers. They announced their intention to apply to have the land registered as a town green, which, if approved, could render it off limits for developers.

Campaigners have set up a group called the Protect Frome Valley at Stapleton Community Association to battle the plans. Chris Gibson, the association’s campaign organiser, told the gathering of 50 locals that 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. 

But the school and Bristol-based developer Woodstock Homes have now addressed residents’ worries. They say the site is located in the Environment Agency’s Flood Zone 1, which is at the lowest risk of flooding and “perfectly acceptable” for development. Despite the low risk, the homes have been moved up the slope away from the flood plain on the plans. The school and housebuilder say professional ecologists have surveyed the site and do not believe there to be an active badger sett on the field, as suggested at the meeting. They say a full ecological survey will be submitted with any planning application.

Jeremy McCullough, head master at Colston’s School, said: “We are very sensitive to the views of the local community and particularly those living in the vicinity of the proposed development site. The school has always sought to maintain good and positive relationships with its neighbouring residents, and the current project is no exception. It was partly for this reason that Woodstock Homes was selected as the preferred developer. We have been impressed by the quality of their housing schemes to date, and the sensitivity of those schemes to their location.”

Woodstock Homes’ managing director Martin Newman said: “While new housing proposals often concern local residents, Bristol still needs more homes. This could mean more city centre developments, it may even mean greenbelt development. But it is certainly important to build new homes within existing communities. We believe this is a good place to build new, quality homes.
“We will do our very best to minimise the impact on the existing residents and will try and take on board any concerns.”
Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Developers-allay-fears-homes-plan-private-school/story-26324301detail/story.html#ixzz3XfpuHHxI

Our response:

‘On behalf of the ‘Protect Frome Valley @ Stapleton’ Community Association I wish to make it absolutely clear that we have not, in any sense, had any ‘fears allayed’ by the developers. We do not accept the assertions made in the statements you have reported in this article and we will be issuing a full press release in due course.

We note that the developers have not addressed any of the actual planning issues, including the land’s official planning designations of ‘Important Open Space’, ‘Historic Park & Garden’ and ‘Conservation Area’.

We dispute their assertions regarding wildlife habitat, and note they originally described the location as ‘unused wasteland’, betraying a woeful lack of understanding and respect for the environment and local wildlife.

Long standing residents remain adamant that a badger sett has existed on the site for many years, and we still believe that an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 may have been committed by clearing the land without a licence.

We reject the developer’s attempt to justify the the proposals on the grounds that Bristol needs more homes: we also recognise this need but do not accept that valuable public amenities such as this should be sacrificed for luxury housing being built purely for profit. The Bristol Local Plan identifies over 670 new homes within a 2-mile radius of this site, none of which are on green open space.

We dispute the assertion that the land is entirely Floodzone 1 and note that when we first raised this issue the developers appeared totally unaware that any of the land flooded.

We totally reject the frankly ludicrous and patronising assertions that the school is seeking to maintain ‘good and positive’ relations with its neighbours, and would point out that this has provoked such anger that, sadly, the relationship with Colston’s School may have been irreparably damaged.

Nor do we accept the fatuous statement that this is a good place to build because it is within a community. We remain of the opinion that this development is wrong in principle, and is an example of the insidious urban creep that threatens all our open spaces.

If allowed, this will make a mockery of all protective planning designations in Bristol, and we remain resolute in our determination to fight it – statements of the kind being made in this article only serve to fuel that determination.

Christopher Faulkner Gibson, ‘Protect Frome Valley @ Stapleton’ Community Association’

Share This
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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.

Share This
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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

 

Share This
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail