Bristol Green Party has urged its members to support Protect Frome Valley’s campaign to stop development of Colston playing fields. Adjacent to Eastville Park, the fields are designated part of a Historic Park and Garden, an Important Open Space, and Wildlife Corridor in the Bristol Local Plan. The fields are owned by the Merchant Venturers, who have submitted a planning application for developing the land into luxury housing. The closing date for objections to the application is 8th July.
Local residents have been dismayed by developers’ pre-planning activity, which destroyed a valuable nesting site at the very start of the nesting season, and is believed to have resulted in the partial collapse of a badger sett. Subsequently Protect Frome Valley have started a petition calling for the development of brownfield sites to be given much more emphasis in order to safeguard greenfield sites .
With a housing crisis leaving ever increasing numbers of people precariously housed, Councils are under pressure to allow development of greenfield sites. However, a report by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), based on research by UWE, suggests Bristol brownfield sites have a development capacity of 30,000 houses. As a Party committed to environmental and social justice, Bristol Greens have pointed out that the ongoing loss of green spaces disproportionately affects poorer residents.
Chris Faulkner Gibson, Campaign Organiser from Protect Frome Valley, said, “this development has nothing to do with easing the housing shortage and is wrong for so many reasons: it would severely damage the public amenity of Eastville Park and this part of the Frome Valley, jeopardise the establishment of viable breeding populations of otters and kingfishers and pose a threat to every other green open space in Bristol. If multiple protective planning designations can be easily set aside purely for the developer’s profit then no other green open space in the City will be safe.”
Gus Hoyt, Green Party Councillor for Ashley, said, “Bristol is in the midst of a housing crisis but we must look to ways to protect our valuable green spaces and nature reserves which make this city such a wonderful place to live. Building yet more luxury housing at the detriment of the city’s wildlife will not solve the housing crisis Bristol is facing at the moment.”
Simon Stafford-Townsend, Green Party candidate for Eastville in May’s election, said, “this development risks setting a precedent that will threaten Bristol’s green spaces. It comes amidst a housing crisis that calls for affordable and social housing, not high end housing that will only further fuel rising house prices in the area. With George Osborne delivering further cuts on Wednesday, applications like this set the scene for the future development of publicly owned green spaces.”
Protect Frome Valley @ Stapleton is a constituted Community Association formed by local residents as a response to this development proposal. When this campaign is over the group will be working with the Greater Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership’s Planning Group to help develop a positive neighbourhood plan. They can be contacted via facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/savefromevalleyatstapleton/), twitter (@stapletonBS16), or web (www.protect.fromevalley.org)
 Detailed guidance on the relevant planning policies affecting this application are online here: http://protect.fromevalley.org/bristol-city-council-planning-policies/
 Objections to planning application 15/01870/F can be made online here: http://tinyurl.com/qchczre
 The petition can be found on the City Council’s e-petitioning site here: http://epetitions.bristol.gov.uk/epetition_core/community/petition/3137
 From Wasted Space to Living Spaces report published by the Campaign 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. Available here: http://tinyurl.com/nklozz5
Photo Credit http://protect.fromevalley.org/