Friday, July 31, 2009

Sustainable Communities Act successes

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I'm very pleased to have received the email below today showing that two of the 22 proposals I submitted to Bristol City Council's Sustainable Communities Act process have been successful, passing the various tests (see the proposals described after the email). It will be very interesting to see what the Local Govt Association make of them.

Dear Ms White and Mr Vowles,

I'm writing to let you know that following decision at the Council's Cabinet meeting last night. I am pleased to say your joint proposal regarding reducing commercial and industrial waste and the seprate one submitted by you individally Mr Vowles on statutory biodiversity/ecofootprint data in planning applications have been submitted to the Local Government Association Selector Panel today.

We would like to thank you for your input to this process so far and will let you know as soon as we have further information from the LGA on the progress of these and other proposals the Council has submitted.

Kind regards,

Deborah Kinghorn
Policy Officer
Deputy Chief Executive's Unit
Bristol City Council
0117 92 22792

1.The proposal is to establish statutory biodiversity/eco footprint data in planning applications.

Submission of ‘before and after’ biodiversity and eco-footprint data to be a compulsory part of all planning applications – the data to be a statutory consideration for all planning committees.

The proposal would improve the eco-footprint of new development. In theory it should lead to an increase in resource supporting biodiversity, reduce the contribution new development has on climate change, might boost the local economy through local supply, improve the resource efficiency of the development.

People submitting planning applications for new development would need guidance on how to undertake this and what would be required. Therefore Officers and Members of the Council would also need training and guidance in order to implement this proposal successfully.
It would require a change in legislation to become mandatory.

2.Reduce commercial and industrial waste.

Give local authorities the responsibility for managing all commercial and industrial waste to ensure that the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle can be applied to commercial and industrial waste as well as municipal waste.

If local authorities are given this responsibility, establish a national indicator for waste minimisation that covers commercial and municipal sectors.

Municipal waste only accounts for 15% waste and Commercial and Industrial accounts for 39% with construction and demolition 46%. (WEP Joint waste strategy paper)

There is currently little influence on the commercial and industrial sector to minimise waste through the three Rs , reduce, reuse, and recycle. The main influence is the financial cost which is not prohibitive enough to encourage minimisation of waste to landfill.

If local authorities are responsible for the whole waste stream, it will enable waste to be tackled in a more joined up way and with more regard for the environment. Commercial and Industrial waste tends to have fewer waste streams and can often be easily recycled.

Monday, July 27, 2009

St Peter's Hospice, Knowle: petition opposing closure

I'm helping the campaign to keep St Peter's Hospice in Knowle from closure. Having already written to St Peter's Director of Patient Care I will also be attending, and helping to publicise, the public meeting at Windmill Hill City Farm this Friday (see details in the post below this one or click on the image, left) and helping to collect signatures on a paper petition that reads as below (copies available from me, or by phoning the number below if you'd like to help - I'm hoping to have the petition available to sign electronically within a few days and will post details here):

We, the undersigned, believe that the decision to close the hospice in South Bristol with the loss of ten beds in September will result in many terminally ill people being denied a specialist in-patient pain relief service and being left to die on busy hospital wards. We cannot understand why there has been no emergency appeal to save this essential service.

We call upon St Peter’s Hospice, Bristol Primary Care Trust and United Bristol Hospital Trust to consult the people of South Bristol about these plans and to work together to ensure that a full hospice service remains available in South Bristol.

If you are signing this petition, please tick if you want to help with this campaign. Please return the completed form to: Save Our Hospice, 15 Addison Rd, Victoria Park, Bristol BS3 4QH. To contact us, phone 07929 897149 or email:

St Peter's Hospice: public meeting about the proposed closure in Knowle

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Monday, July 13, 2009

World Cup games in Bristol: case against

A powerful case against the World Cup coming to Bristol has been outlined by the Bristol Blogger! The financial case for having World Cup games in Bristol appears to be very shaky indeed !

And of course there is the environmental case against: loss of green belt land to build the BCFC stadium that is essential to staging World Cup football in the city; stimulus to further loss of green belt land as development fills in much of the space in and around the new stadium and roads; large carbon footprint and other environmental impacts in constructing and operating the new stadium (neither BCFC not the council have fully committed themselves to the principle of any development fully compensating for total impacts); large increase in Bristol’s eco-footprint from developments that follow the new stadium. Many people in Ashton Vale and Long Ashton will be seriously impacted by a new stadium.

Can someone demonstrate net economic and environmental benefits to me?? I’d need to see this before I can support the World Cup bid. Several statements by local politicians and others would seem to presume that a new stadium for BCFC at Long Ashton is automatically highly likely and desirable. It isn’t. Has it been forgotten that building on green belt land is not really supposed to happen at all, unless circumstances are exceptional. Is it the view of all the big political parties in Bristol that the circumstances are exceptional?

Have BCFC come up with a new stadium design and construction process that is truly innovative and green (efficient, renewably powered, carbon neutral…and more), so much so that it can be quantitatively shown that most aspects of environmental impact have been fully compensated for?? Did they exhaust the options for redeveloping Ashton Gate, a ground with so much heritage value??

These are the considerations that I’ve had in mind for some time. Any administration running Bristol that considers itself green should have these considerations in mind. Have we forgotten our green capital ambitions?? Since the start of the new stadium process greens have contributed to the BCFC consultation, urging the use of green designs, processes and technologies – we will continue to make such points throughout the planning process.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Use and abuse of computer generated images of the proposed new Bristol City ground

This post is about the use and potential/actual abuse of pictures of proposed developments. Developers can and do use pictures to mislead people about the apparent nature and impacts of what they plan.

New plans will involve drawings and pictures and/or three dimensional models, these days often computer generated. The plans for a new Bristol City stadium are no exception to this (see aerial view left) - many have been featured very prominently and repeatedly in the local press (eg here) as well as in the architects report (here) and on the Bristol City FC website (here). Pictures are familiar and require little specialist training to interpret, making them a powerful communications tool (which developers, planners, councils and the media are of course well aware of).

Pictures are useful - but the viewer should consider both what is shown and what is not shown. Viewers need to weigh up how representative and realistic what someone has chosen to present to them for their chosen purpose, not necessarily the viewers purpose, truly is. People usually see things from the ground yet we are often given aerial views (as above) and not shown the view from residents back gardens (as is the case with the computer-generated pictures of the proposed Bristol City stadium the Evening Post has prominently featured).

Many images we are presented with are shown in isolation or with the visual context that those producing the pictures want to give. The picture above shows one approach to the proposed Bristol City stadium which includes: a) very large, mature trees that would take years to grow b) a couple with the children just behind them. None of the images of the proposed stadium I've seen show any traffic or crowds whatsoever. Its not that the images we are presented with are 'wrong' its that they are partial and are selected to show what a narrow range of people want us to see!!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How green is the proposed new Bristol City stadium design?

1 comment:
Saw this Evening Post report about how the proposed new Bristol City football stadium would be 'sunk into the ground' to minimise impacts. Subject to the full details, which I've yet to see, this is likely to be a good aspect of its design as visual intrusion, noise pollution and possibly light pollution would be cut. I made an enquiry to find out more via Trimedia ( who are dealing with a lot of the consultation/PR for BCFC and I was told the stadium would be sunk 3 metres into the ground. They also sent me further design information, which I'm looking over, and I sent the email request below for asking about a wide range of green design features/principles:
Thanks for this - I'll look over the attached information asap. I'd be grateful if you could establish which of the following you feel are a part of the BCFC new stadium plans:

*abiding by the concept of compensation for loss of green space in the green belt;

* a thorough ecological assessment of the whole area, at various times of the year;

*walking, cycling and light rail transport links;

*an unobtrusive external colour;

*use of ecological footprinting to measure impacts;

*permanently protected nature reserves around the stadium, designed to maximise biodiversity;

*aiming to be a carbon neutral stadium;

*avoiding any 'sprawl' in design;

*being an example of sustainable design (see examples below) - promoting sustainable economic activity, the latest energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable transport technologies.
Examples of football clubs who have used or attempted to use green principles, designs and technologies (this would fit well with Bristol's green capital ambitions and compensate to a degree for the loss of green space):

Dartford FC – living grass roof, solar electricity and heating, rainwater collection and low noise and light pollution design.

Ipswich Town – carbon neutral scheme.

Renewables in football clubs information.

Middlesborough – solar roof and wind turbines project.

Man City – community involvement, transport and waste initiatives (wind turbines were planned but sadly now abandoned).

Many thanks for your help.

Yours sincerely
Glenn Vowles

Bedminster Residents Against Tesco's Expansion Into Ashton Gate: petition and newsletter

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Opposition to Tesco on Ashton Gate is organising - see e-petition link and the newsletter from BERATE (Bedminster Residents Against Tesco's Expansion Into Ashton Gate) . I note George Ferguson's current position on this issue (the Bristol Evening Post had a story about George's view, headlined [somewhat inaccurately?] 'Cautious Support for Tesco Stadium Plan' on 3 June). If you can offer BERATE assistance please contact them (details below).


5th July 2009

Greater Bedminster Residents meet to form “No-Superstore” Campaign Group

More than 70 people from Greater Bedminster packed into a meeting room at the Southville Centre on Friday night, to hear more about the proposed Tesco superstore development at Ashton Gate Stadium.

Local residents, Chris Uttley and Tom Griffin, who organised the meeting said, “Whilst we are seeing plenty of information about the supposed benefits, there has been no opportunity for public discussion about the massive increase in traffic, noise, air pollution and disruption created by a store that opens 7 days a week for virtually all day.

“We wanted to give all residents and traders an opportunity to voice their concerns without the stage-managed atmosphere of the Public Relations devised consultation they have had so far”

Traders from North Street, people who live in close proximity to the stadium and residents from throughout the area, including many Bristol City Football Club supporters, heard more about the plans and were given an opportunity to voice their concerns.

Many people at the meeting commented on how inappropriate the proposal seems. Abigail Stollar, a Southville resident said, “ I shop all the time on North Street. What’s being proposed will contribute very little to the local community and will have a massive impact on the existing shops and businesses. I like the fact I can walk round the corner with my kids to buy virtually everything I need”.

Some residents highlighted the rushed manner in which they were being consulted and the ad-hoc way in which information is being released. In many cases, people who live very close to the stadium had not been consulted at all. Only 3 people raised their hands when asked how many had been approached directly for their views.

People were particularly angry at the way this development has been linked with plans for a new stadium and the Bristol World Cup bid and the attempt to brand those who oppose a new superstore as anti-World cup and anti-Bristol City. Many people said this was “cynical”, “ill-judged” and “divisive”.

George Ferguson, owner of the Tobacco Factory, summed up the feeling from the meeting saying, “There is nothing like a major threat to its future to galvanise a community. This is an appalling proposal – another giant shopping shed set in a massive sea of car parking. The potential economic and environmental damage to this area is immense. I fully recognise the importance of Bristol City’s success but it is quite wrong to imply that a new supermarket is something to do with the new stadium or the World Cup – the two issues have to be de-coupled. It is inappropriate and legally dubious to consider the applications for the new stadium and the new supermarket simultaneously”.

The proposal to create a group to fight the proposal was welcomed by all those who attended and many volunteered to be directly involved. BERATE has now begun a petition against the superstore and will continue to oppose the plans and gauge the response of a larger cross-section of the community towards the development.

For further Information:

Contact details:

Or Chris Uttley on 07920 797110
Or Tom Griffin on 07772289718

Friday, July 03, 2009

'Answers' to questions on sale of Bristol to Bath Railway Path land

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Copied below are some questions recently put by me to Bristol City Council Cabinet members. The reply to Q1 is in my view disingenuous. Whilst it is interesting to note that no Bristol to Bath Railway Path land has yet been sold the response to Q1 gives the misleading impression that the council is consulting about the future of all affected railway path land. This is not the case. The hedgerow section I refer to is not covered and that the sale of this land will go ahead has been confirmed to members of the Bristol Parks Forum. The only indication of this in the answer I got was this bit '...on balance, the redevelopment of the derelict Chocolate Factory site will bring substantial benefits. This will inevitably have consequences for the land adjacent to the Railway Path.' This new consultation is quite unnecessary as the views of locals on all the land concerned was established in a consultation only months ago!!

C1. Glenn Vowles to ask Gary Hopkins, Executive Member for Environment and Community Safety and Jon Rogers Executive Member for Transport and Sustainability

Hedgerow loss due to Cycle Houses

Plans for the development of ‘cycle houses’ on the former Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Factory site have been granted planning permission. The development would, unless modified, mean the destruction of approximately 150 metres of mature hawthorn hedgerow. Hedgerows are of high landscape and conservation value. They add diversity to and are a traditional feature of the landscape. They provide foraging, roosting and nesting sites for birds. They are rich in animal and plant species (around 500 vascular plant species are found in UK hedgerows). They are home to many types of insect, mollusc, spider and small animal. They act as wildlife corridors allowing flora and fauna, including birds, foxes, badgers, mice and other small mammals, beetles and molluscs, routes for dispersal from remnant islands of habitat through an increasingly hostile landscape.

Q1. Can you confirm that Bristol City Council has sold to the developers a plot of land on/adjacent to the Bristol to Bath Railway Path that includes the 150 metre (approx) hedgerow referred to and that the Liberal Democrat administration authorised this sale?

C1.Q1 Reply:
No land has yet been sold. The Cabinet believe that, on balance, the redevelopment of the derelict Chocolate Factory site will bring substantial benefits. This will inevitably have consequences for the land adjacent to the Railway Path. However, we are not persuaded that the design solution currently proposed represents the best balance between regeneration, environment and use of the Railway Path, and we are therefore seeking the public's views as to the respective merits of shared or individual access from the 'cycle houses' to the path.
This administration is also concerned that there remain aspirations for Bus Rapid Transit along the Railway Path. We are therefore also reviewing the terms of the access arrangements between the Railway Path and the Chocolate Factory development to protect the Path.

Q2. Did the Bristol Liberal Democratic Party at any time in the last year appeal to the developers to modify their cycle house plans so that hedgerow loss was avoided?

C1.Q2 Reply:
Yes. Liberal Democrats (and others) have raised concerns about the placing of the cycle houses so close to the Railway Path and the consequent loss of hedgerow. These concerns were raised as part of the planning process and in earlier consultation.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Cuts proposed in the 52 bus service

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I've just sent the email below to Bristol City Council ( having picked up a consultation leaflet about the proposed cuts in the 52 bus service (pictured - click to get larger image), which many in Knowle use of course. The council are consulting on the change until Friday 3 July and want to hear about the incovenience and hardship this service cut will cause - so get your email in very soon or write to Public Transport and Park and Ride (CD/BH), FREEPOST BS6529, Bristol, BS1 5BR.
It is with considerable dismay that I learned of the proposed cut in the 52 bus service, both as a Knowle resident and user of this service and as a keen green urging more, better and cheaper public transport. The council is minded to withdraw this bus service for Monday to Saturday evenings and all day on Sundays and Public Holidays despite having a policy of trying to encourage the public onto public transport! Government policy is also to encourage people onto public transport! If we are to have more people using buses (and trains) the council and government must put their money where their mouth is!

Its very hard indeed to square the use of the term 'service...withdrawn' with 'minimising hardship' on the consultation leaflet. The leaflet itself acknowledges that to access alternative services people would have to walk further. This is a disincentive on bus use of course but the picture is worse that just that. I have family and friends, including children, who would have the pattern of their lives disrupted and made less safe. They dont feel safe walking through certain areas at certain times yet they would be forced to do so if the changes happen in order to get a bus when they normally do. With lifts in a car unavailable some would at times be put-off going out altogether.

If the 52 bus service is cut, travelling back from town to Knowle is likely to take longer, with more waiting around. Friends and family currently travelling together but living in different parts of Knowle would, at times, no longer be able to catch the same bus - a service common to both would be gone.

The proposal to direct some 52 bus users to the Bristol Dial-a-Ride in the event of a service cut is inadequate. This would not cover all bus users as Dial-a-Ride is for those with mobility impairment. Those with mobility impairment would still experience service loss on Saturdays and Sundays when the 52 is currently available but Dial-a-Ride is not.

This bus service cut proposal is entirely inconsistent with the apparent drive to promote and encourage bus use in central Bristol, such as via a circular route or 'hub'. If we are to make significant overall progress in getting people onto public transport we must have properly coordinated improvements in services across the city.