Concern about loss of play spaces in Knowle West

Main image: local organisation StreetSpace uses the multi-use games area on Filwood Broadway regularly for its youth work. Picture courtesy of StreetSpace.

Residents and local youth organisations are concerned about the potential loss of informal play spaces for young people in Knowle West.

And they are asking Bristol City Council for developments in the area to increase and improve the range of facilities available.

Already land at Broad Plain on Broadbury Road has been approved for new housing – which will mean losing a play area.

And there has recently been consultation around planned developments on land at the Health Park  as well as the Old Swimming Pool site on Filwood Broadway – which both have multi-use games areas (MUGAs) popular with young people.

Knowle West Alliance (KWA) Co-ordinator Lucy Holburn said they had been contacted by concerned residents  – and in response had hosted a number of meetings of local children’s and youth organisations.

The group of organisations has recently sent a letter to the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, highlighting the issue.

Lucy said: “Members of the group designed a resident survey and worked with Bristol Scrapstore to survey some of our play spaces. 

“Concerned about the incremental loss of play spaces, a letter was sent in November to the Mayor, to ask for joined up thinking about what our children and young people want, need and deserve – a range of safe, accessible, age appropriate, playable spaces across the estate.”

StreetSpace based on Filwood Broadway has also written independently to the Mayor. The organisation has around 100 young people through its doors each week – and regularly uses the MUGA on the Old Swimming Pool Site, where there are plans to build 29 new homes.

A StreetSpace session on the MUGA on Filwood Broadway. Picture courtesy of StreetSpace.

StreetSpace Project Manager Sam Burrett says: “We use it every day, it’s almost our garden, we use it for football and in the summer have barbecues there because … we don’t have anywhere else to meet with young people and families. 

“We still need outside play space that’s informal with no restrictions… There are some young people, the same as adults, who don’t wish to be in a structured area.

“We keep saying young people need more exercise and we have the largest rates of obesity, so taking away their play space won’t give them an outside area for recreational purposes.

“We have a need for housing but there needs to be more thought about what we do about play space, should it stay there or be relocated?”

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said the Mayor’s Office had received the letters and was considering a response.

To view the Knowle West children and youth network letter to the Mayor and play reports visit: www.knowlewestalliance.co.uk