Local Facebook group formed when proposals revealed
Plans to build 50 homes at Knowle West Health Park have been paused to “work more closely with the community” – following a large number of concerns raised during an online consultation this spring.
The 4.5 hectare site off Downton Road is owned by Bristol City Council which wants to use 1.2 hectares for housing – including a small number of Supported Living flats. Existing buildings and much of the public open space at the Health Park will remain.
But local people are worried about loss of outdoor facilities at the well-used community site and the effect on residents’ health and wellbeing – and feel it is the wrong place for development.
Bristol-based engagement specialists, Participatr. collected the views of the local community via an interactive website and a short questionnaire from March to May.
Residents concerned at the possibility of losing the space formed the Knowle West Health Park Community Group when the proposals were first revealed.
They wanted to “make sure people could come together to share their use of the park and discuss the plans for development.”
Chief Executive of Knowle West Health Park, Heather Williams said: “The Health Park continues to be a go-to destination as the weather improves and the need for this green space is apparent on a daily basis.
“The election period has seen a group of residents work together to design a survey and create a banner to raise awareness around the proposed development of houses on the Health Park.
“A Facebook group Knowle West Health Park Community Group has been set up – and we encourage people to join the group to get up to date information.”
Rhiannon Searle who started the group said as a member she “strongly objected” to the development of housing on the Knowle West Health Park site.
She told The Knowledge: “With so many housing developments happening or planned for the area, the Health Park offers an obvious space to provide the facilities for an increasingly populated neighbourhood.
“The Health Park car parks are regularly full with visitors to the GP surgeries or healthy living centre and dialysis unit as well as people using the green space for exercise.
“It is one of the best outdoor provisions for young people in our area, with the playgrounds, football pitch, basketball court and grass mounds used every day by young people.
“The running track and outdoor gym are also well used and provide a safe space to exercise or walk the dog. The health benefits of being in green spaces are well recognised and losing a well-used site that was designed to improve the wellbeing of the community would have a detrimental impact on the community…”
The site is allocated for a range of uses in Bristol’s Local Plan – including community use, open space, business and housing.
A Bristol City Council spokesperson said they had appointed a ‘multi-disciplinary design team’ to develop outline proposals for housing, in line with the Knowle West Regeneration Framework – which would be taken forward by Goram Homes.
“These proposals were consulted on in March 2021. Due to the high number of responses generated by the consultation, consultation was extended until after the elections into May 2021.
“We have now paused the project to ensure we have the time and space to work more closely with the community, including working with the Ward Councillors and the Knowle West Alliance, before the project progresses any further.
“Any development proposals for the Health Park that come forward in future will seek to retain or re-provide the playground and multi-use games area within the Health Park, with provision improved wherever possible.”
Facebook: Knowle West Health Park Community Group