Labour housing czar, Paul “Wolfie” Smith’s efforts to “build communities not just houses” on Hengrove Park continue to go badly awry as his planning team persist in their attempt to dump 1,400 homes in a field in south Bristol and call it “planning”.
Some progress was made when Wolfie’s planners caught up with the rest of the sentient universe and agreed that a public road access to their development was REQUIRED from Hengrove Way, the only major arterial route to the site.
However, planners then decided that this route must STOP one third of the way into the development to prevent “rat-running” between Hengrove Way and Whitchurch Lane. However, this will also PREVENT vehicle access to two thirds of the proposed homes from the road with the best capacity to handle the traffic. Planners, when asked where they think they are preventing rat-runners going, deliver the BLANK LOOK of someone who’s spent about as much time in south Bristol as the average Japanese Puffer Fish.
Concern for rat running then DISPELS less than a mile away where an existing residential road and ‘rat-run’, Bamfield, will provide vehicle access for two thirds of the development. Is the plan to prioritise the quality of life in the NEW DEVELOPMENT by reducing traffic there at the expense of an EXISTING residential area already handling supermarket traffic for Asda, school run traffic for Perry Court Primary School and existing “rat-runners” going home to Hengrove and Whitchurch?
How Bamfield, a residential road, is supposed to cope with even more traffic is NOT EXPLAINED. While enquiries regarding how many vehicle movements the new development might generate go UNANSWERED by planners who are, apparently, near the end of their “masterplanning” with NO CLUE how much traffic their development might generate.
Throughout this process, planners have remained DEAF to concerns regarding traffic issues in the area. Instead, the council’s mantra is that the new housing is a major benefit that residents have been calling for. A view CONTRADICTED by the council’s own Quality of Life Survey, where concern over traffic and transport dwarfs housing issues by about four to one.
So far, planners’ only real response to impending TRAFFIC HELL, reduced air quality and increased pollution is to enthusiastically draw little blue lines all over their plans indicating where their cycle lanes will go. This is for an area where their own data shows ZERO PER CENT of people cycle to work and any new roads will be cycle-friendly 20mph anyway.
Another “benefit” planners are keen to highlight is the £10MILLION proposed spend on park facilities and landscaping for the open space they haven’t concreted over. Although the reality is that residents are losing huge amounts of open space to housing and roads while any benefit from more park facilities is QUESTIONABLE while the council is proposing to close the existing Hengrove Play Park on Mondays and Tuesdays.
It also appears that there will actually be £10million worth of landscaped PSEUDO PUBLIC SPACE as the land will be turned over to a dodgy Carillion-style private management firm, procured by a skint council, to run. The level of maintenance and upkeep of this space is therefore likely to be LOW with ZERO community or democratic oversight once the council signs our land away to the private sector to manage.
The latest highlight of this public-private pseudo public space LANDSCAPING BONANZA is an optimistically named “village green”, planned to be built over the popular Family Cycling Centre. However, any traditional sound of leather on willow may be a little subdued by the main road into the development running DIRECTLY THROUGH this village green.
It’s obvious that this development is being pursued at a RAMPANT PACE by Wolfie in order to chase numbers for a manifesto pledge on housing numbers. While it might – if we’re lucky – support the housing needs of the rest of the city, it provides little that’s much use to locals who’ll have to live with the predictably DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES of it all.
Wolfie needs to get back to the drawing board or accept responsibility as the architect of a new Hartcliffe (another public housing development full of bold promises where there was never any money for the services and facilities to fulfil them).