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Residents challenge Hengrove Park houses plan

By Community Reporter Charlie Watts

Bristol City Council has submitted a planning application to build 1,450 houses on Hengrove Park – but many local people are unhappy about loss of green space.  

A public meeting was held at the St Augustine’s Church in Whitchurch on 10 July, where hundreds of residents challenged the council’s plans for the park. 

Many of those at the meeting raised concerns about the size of the development – with one attendee calling the council “shameful” for “destroying open land”. 

Defending the plan, the council’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Paul Smith, told the meeting more than half of the former airfield site will be retained as green space. 

But Jane Hewer, a member of the Hengrove and Whitchurch Neighbourhood Planning Forum, is worried most of the green left will be used for drainage. 

 “We want a good quality park,” she said.  

While some local people, such as Kim Owens, would rather the council keep the park – which she calls an “escape” – as it is. 

 “They just don’t want to leave that greenery there,” she added. 

During the meeting, Cllr Smith also answered questions on the impact of the proposed development on services and facilities in the area – suggesting it could bring new doctors and dentists to Hengrove and Whitchurch. 

 He said: “We can’t force a dentist, we can’t force a café, we can’t force a shop or anybody else to come to any particular location within Bristol.

“But we can make the space available for them – and we can encourage them to come.”  

The council previously applied to build 1,500 homes on Hengrove Park, but this was rejected in February – one of the reasons being that too much parkland would have been lost.  

But Cllr Smith said the council has responded to the reasons for refusal – and the new plan for the park is “fantastic”.

However a petition, which has 400 signatures so far, calls on the council to scrap it.  

The resubmitted application can be viewed on the council’s website (ref: 19/02632/PB), and it is expected to be voted on by the planning committee in the autumn.