Battle to protect site takes a turn

Plans for a local picnic area in Henleaze to be designated a village green are likely to go to an independent inspector.

Families living nearby say the land at the end of Ridgehill has been maintained and used by locals for more than 35 years.

They have asked Bristol City Council to have it registered as a Town or Village Green, to protect it for public use in the future.

But the landowner and another resident have lodged objections and a planning application has been submitted for a house on the site.

As the Voice went to print, BCC’s Public Rights of Way and Greens (PROWG) Committee was due to consider a report on the application from the Commons Registration Authority (CRA) – another part of the council.
The report recommended an inspector be appointed to examine the case for and against, for the PROWG to make a final decision.

The CRA says that if the PROWG committee decides to make a decision without an inspector’s report, it could face legal challenges – and it would be more cost effective to consider objections now rather than in court.
It says the CRA received an objection from a member of the public challenging the application on that basis that “it is not supported by a significant number of the inhabitants of the locality, or neighbourhood within the locality.”

The objector claimed the applicants had “not sought the opinion of all immediate residents in the vicinity or wider area, this is a minority group, if you were not a member of the neighbourhood watch, I doubt you would know what the plans were/are for this space”.

A planning application to build a house on the land was submitted in August 2023, more than 11 months after the original TCG application was submitted.

This application has attracted more than 160 objections on the BCC planning portal, including Bristol Tree Forum.
Another said: “This pleasant green space provides a handy and safe cut through to Tesco for many residents.
“Removing this amenity would involve the felling of mature trees that provide a haven for wildlife and is hard to see how it fits in with Bristol’s claim to be a green city.”

Eleven people had written supporting the planning application. One said they felt it was a modest and sensitive proposal.

“The array of objectors seem to feel some kind of entitlement to demand access to someone else’s property and to determine what they may, and may not, do with it. To allow this kind of “community” appropriation of a privately owned plot would set a dangerous and unwelcome precedent.”

The TVG application by people living in and near Ridgehill says over the years local people have cut the grass, and maintained the area, used it for picnics and barbecues, and as a pathway to Tesco and Kellaway Avenue.
The application says: “The land has developed into a local amenity with the provision of flower tubs, planting, landscaping and re-seeding of grass.

“Chippings have been laid to improve the surface of the informal path crossing the site and linking to the network of public rights of way across Golden Hill.”

The local neighbourhood watch committee even funded a kissing gate on the path.

Resident Michael McConalogue said more than 18 households submitted statements of support to BCC. He said when the houses in Sates Way and Ridgeway were built in the late 1970s, the patch of land was marked as “public open space”.

Bristol City Council said last summer than the process could take over a year to determine.
The Voice has contacted the agent for the planning applicant but has not had a response and been unable to establish who the landowner is in order to contact them for comment.