More good news for South Bristol as a planning application before Bristol City Council’s Planning Committe ‘A’ today proposes to demolish Hengrove Leisure Park and build 350 homes in its place.
This latest housing site is conveniently nestled between Hengrove Park, where 1,500 homes have planning permission, and the new private equity development ‘Urban Quarter’, where 250 homes are being built.
A few hundred metres east of the site, on Hengrove Way, is Barratt Homes’ recently completed Filwood Park, a development of 150 homes and next to that is the emerging Skanska/IKEA ‘Boklok‘ abomination built on the verge of Airport Road with 173 homes.
The existing facilities at Hengrove Leisure Park – the cinema, bingo hall and the majority of food outlets – which only opened with much fanfare in 1998, are all proposed for demolition to make way for housing. Because, according to the planning application before councillors, the existing facilities are ‘not viable’.
Residents of Whitchurch, Hengrove, Hartcliffe and Knowle West are furious at the news that some of the last leisure facilities in the area are being thrown into the dustbin of history under the cover of “the housing crisis”.
A slogan that, in the hands of the property industry, is nothing more than a populist ploy to extract large profits from overdevelopment. Is it any surprise that as house prices in south Bristol head north of £300k, the international private equity industry is taking an interest?
Residents also complain that they have been fooled by Bristol City council and its planners as the 1,500 home development on the hugely popular Hengrove Park was only signed off for planning permission on the basis that there were public facilities, like the leisure park, in the area to support new housing. The leisure park is even listed as part of ‘Phase one‘ of this new development by Bristol City Council.
This proposal is also another major disaster for the credibility of Bristol City Council planners who, 25 years ago, foisted this car-friendly development – a large car park with some large retail sheds – on south Bristol as their vision of the future for the area.
Indeed, so enamoured were council planners and politicians with their exciting new corporate-leisure-in-a-car-park future, they even granted the privately-run operation an unprecedented 1,000 year lease on the council-owned open space of Hengrove Park to realise this dream.
Whether this ludicrous 1,000 year lease to a corporate allows the new owners of the leisure park, AEK UK, to demolish it and build housing remains to be seen.