SOUTH BRISTOL FREE PRESS
NORTHERN SLOPES AND SOUTH BRISTOL COLLEGE
INFORMATION UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2012
Dear Bristol Resident,
We have written this newsletter to inform people about what is currently happening with the Northern Slopes and South Bristol College site in Bedminster. We believe it raises many important questions for the people of Bristol. The two sites together comprise a total size of 25 acres of public land. It is the current plan of the landowners to sell the majority of this land to a private developer to build houses on.
There is a public exhibition on the 21st November at the College site, 12PM-8PM, hosted by the landowners – Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Bristol City Council (BCC) and Knightstone Housing Association (KHA). This exhibition is your chance to have your say about what will happen on the site, and ask for yourselves what the intentions of the landowners are.
WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?
BCC are moving forward with a plan to convert the red building at the front of the College site for use as a primary school. As we understand it the HCA intend to demolish all of the other buildings on the College site bar one. This was repeated on the Northern Slopes where the BCC demolished 80 flats. Making the site as simple as possible for a developer to work with is part of the business of extracting best price without thought for value.
HCA have put the site out to tender once already and received no interest from any major developers. They did though receive an application from a group called BS3 Campus, a Bristol based group who have been campaigning for the last 18 months for a more ecologically sustainable and community friendly approach to the development of the site. The HCA were not interested in the bid from BS3 Campus. HCA are preparing to put the site out for tender again in 2013.
Bristol based Artspace Lifespace CIC (ASLS) have held a lease on the College site for the past 18 months and have turned the empty College buildings into a hub for community, arts and educational activity. There are a huge range of activities happening on site including evening classes, after school club, skate park, art gallery, cafe, and over 50 artists and small businesses who use the building as studio space. The HCA are asking for all activity on the site to cease by April 2013.
WHAT’S THE WIDER CONTEXT?
Both the Northern Slopes and South Bristol College site are at the present time publicly owned land, the HCA and BCC appear to be committed to a path that will end with this land being sold to private developers, despite alternative options being presented to them for how the development of this land could happen.
This is happening in the wider context of a central government who publicly promote the ideas of 'Big Society' and 'Localism', that is, local communities coming together to take responsibility and ownership of their local area. Yet it appears that when communities do start to take responsibility and ownership, the local government has no interest in supporting or encouraging this process, and that that despite the talk of a ‘Big Society’, the main drive of central and local government is the transferal of public resource into private ownership as rapidly as possible.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
We hope this update has been useful to you, and that you will attend the exhibition on the 21st November to ask your own questions of the landowners, come to your own conclusions, and help all involved find a positive way forward that is in the interests of the whole community.
South Bristol Free Press