Housing plans ditched for Knowle West Health Park

Community came together to ‘demonstrate value’ of the green space

Residents are celebrating the news that plans for 50 new homes on well-used green space at Knowle West Health Park have been ditched.

Bristol City Council which owns the 4.2 acre site off Downton Road had planned to develop 2.5 acres of it through its housing company Goram Homes.

But following two community consultations and intense local opposition – the council announced this week the scheme would be dropped.

Aerial view of the Health Park site. Image Participatr.

The land includes a play park, outdoor gym and multi-use games area as well as mounds popular with young people. In the Bristol Local Plan the site was originally allocated for community use, open space, business and housing.

Existing buildings which include the South Bristol Dialysis Unit, William Budd Health Centre and Knowle West Healthy Living Centre would have remained under the plans.

The proposals were first revealed in March 2021 with a public consultation – extended for two months following a large amount of local objections.

A Facebook group of local residents was set up at the same time to help fight the development of the popular site – Knowle West Health Park Community Group.

Members argued the Health Park in Downton Road was widely used by the community for activities such as walking and fitness groups as well as by dog walkers – and the green space was crucial for physical and mental wellbeing.

Members of Knowle West Health Park Community Group who opposed the plans.

Due to the strength of feeling and opposition to the scheme – the council decided to pause the project to work more closely with the community last summer. A spokesperson said they would be seeking to retain or re-provide the playground and multi-use games area within the Health Park, with ‘provision improved wherever possible.’

Following a second consultation from October to November last year – it announced this week the council would no longer be pursuing development of the site.

“Never forget that the community can be the difference…”

Rhiannon Searle who started Facebook Group told The Knowledge: “I am so happy with the news. The community came together and demonstrated clearly the value of the Health Park. I’m happy for all the people who will continue to benefit from this great green space – whether that be dog walkers, children playing or people exercising.”

CEO of Knowle West Health Park Company, Heather Williams, posted congratulations to campaigners on Facebook.

She said: “Great news and well done the residents who put their hearts and souls into fighting this in the midst of a pandemic. Never forget that the community can be the difference! #weareknowlewest Now we have to use and protect these spaces for future generations.”

Volunteer Walk Leader for the Healthy Living Centre, Vincent White, who was part of the campaign group said: “l think it was a great victory for the community and hopefully we can give the Health Park a facelift with some new ideas and give food for thought to the people who can make things happen.”

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “In response to feedback from two public consultations, Knowle West Health Park will be removed from the pipeline of sites allocated to Goram Homes, and the council will no longer pursue the development of this site. We will now look for other sites to locate the much-needed additional new homes that had been proposed for this site.”

The news comes the same week as the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees announced the council would be scaling back its plans for new homes on Knowle West’s nature-rich Western Slopes – to protect the important wildlife corridor.