CHIS Newsletter March 2018

FROM THE CHAIRMAN On the cusp of its 50th Anniversary, CHIS can take pride in many an achievement whilst ruefully admitting that you can’t win all of them always. In 1968 a gathering of thirty concerned residents met to initiate a society with the specific aim that further developments should improve and protect the unique character of Clifton, Hotwells and Cliftonwood. As a result CHIS helped to shift the (today almost unimaginable) Spirit of the Age, which many people felt had augmented the havoc wreaked by the Blitz. It was a prolonged DARKEST HOUR created by those who thought they were working for the common good but were desperately out of touch with public opinion. The 60s and 70s was the period when planners and architects without discrimination ruled. Improved as much of the subsequent half century has been, we see the warning lights flashing that such a dire spirit is returning, this time at the heart of what came to be called Clifton Village. It is 2-16 Clifton Down Road (aka WH Smith/Clifton on Ice site). Adjacent to listed buildings and in a conservation area, the current boarded up space would disgrace an industrial waste plot. Bristol City Council is to be congratulated for turning down a number of inappropriate development plans. Even so, we fear that residents are so worn down by the continuing disgrace of the site/sight that in despair they will accept the latest plan. To allow such an inadequate design would be as wrong as was the plan in 1971 to erect a 126-bed hotel and multi-storey car park in the Gorge almost below the Suspension Bridge. Amid nation-wide outrage, the previously approved plan was overturned at the highest level, at great cost to the City Council. Our objections are outlined in the Planning Report below. CHIS is determined to fight against another DARKEST HOUR. The death of Gavin Stamp is a terrible blow. We might have benefited from the influence of that brilliant, pioneering architectural critic and ‘Piloti’ in Private Eye to spread beyond Bristol.The Committee Gill Blakeman has been Planning Officer and later Co-ordinator for well over half of CHIS’s existence. She single-handedly responded to planning notices, with meticulous detail and politeness. The ever-increasing pace of applications became too much for one officer so a Planning Group, led by Gill, was formed and continues today. Gill’s service to CHIS increased when she became Vice Chairman until recently, while remaining on the Planning Group. She has decided that it is time to retire from the Committee. The award of the Lord Mayor’s Medal, for services to Guiding as well as CHIS, shows heartening appreciation of her invaluable work during years of devoted and cheerful effort. Happily she is still on hand for consultation and advice. We say farewell to another long-standing member. Peter Rendle’s eagle eye, encyclopaedic memory and tireless walking meant that few matters of traffic, parking, construction and trees escaped his attention, all to the benefit of the Committee’s decision-making and awareness. We will miss that and we wish him a contented retirement, away from Bristol Talks and Tours A regular member of the audience, Peter (a photographer himself) would have relished the presentation which started our 2018 series. Gordon Young’s inventive films of Bristol and surrounds have always impressed us, so the chance to view, in a cool Apostle Room in winter, Three Films of Venice attracted a large audience. Members of the Anglo-Italian Circle joined us, bearing some Italian vino. Gordon’s sophisticated photography and clever commentary caused great delight. Our next talk, on Wednesday 21st March, is exotic in a different way. Alexander MacDonald will speak on The History of Electrical Pain Relief from Egyptian Times to the Present. The response by members to the tour of the BBC was enough to have two tours. They were enjoyed by all and we agreed that we will never see Points West in quite the same way and will be even more impressed looking at Ian giving the weather from the roof. The weather people are the only ones without an auto cue – even more impressive.Plaques th th Clifton Club in its 200 year and CHIS in its 50 placing a plaque to commemorate the initial Club building, now the Clifton Library. Plans for information/historical boards in St Andrew’s (not to be called Birdcage Walk) and at the Strangers’ Burial Ground are being supported by Bristol Rotary Club and the Clifton Club. CHIS will be putting one up in Hotwells. Full details will be in the next Newsletter. Refuse We of course applaud the Mayor’s push to clear the City of rubbish and graffiti, which are so prevalent. CHIS hopes for a positive result for a particular problem: the slum-like mess of overflowing boxes and bins in Alma Vile Road. Student Ambassadors have agreed to attend our next Committee Meeting to consider this and other matters. I don’t think they will be able to effect the removal of the appalling disused/unusable telephone kiosk in front of Beacon House, something we begged Bristol University to do years ago. Its proposals for Tyndalls Avenue closure and a revamped Senate House along with other significant projects are reported in the Planning Section. It is a relief that the prospect of a stone bridge across Bridge Valley Road has not advanced. We are glad to see final permission granted for the restoration of the Observatory. The sculpted bench at the children’s playground below which CHIS presented is in need of oiling and attention to the surrounds. We have drawn the attention of the Downs Officers to that. Residents Parking and business abuse of the system have been the subject of a meeting at which CHIS was represented. Discussion continues. A detailed CHIS comment appears later in the Newsletter. Brian Worthington