CHIS was founded in 1968 by thirty residents, young and old, in order to protect and improve the many war-damaged and decaying parts of Hotwells, Cliftonwood and Clifton in the face of destruction threatened by the prevailing policies of the 50s and 60s planners and architects. Georgian and earlier terraces were not to be restored but yield to new buildings and new road systems.
Bristol City Council granted permission for a 126-bed hotel with multi-storey car park in the Gorge. That fired the indignation of concerned residents. It was in the worst Spirit of the Age and aroused outrage, sometimes national, as did the scheme to tarmac over The Mall Gardens for a car park, plus public lavatories and an electricity substation, not to forget a proposed ring-road through Clifton.
Soon numbering 1000 members, its careful and informed scanning of planning applications gained the respect of Bristol City Council and developers, not least because CHIS stressed improvement not unreflecting Preservation.
A “Spare Parts” store was established to save shutters, mantelpieces, doors and fittings from destruction. Trees and bulbs were and continue to be planted. Nearly all communal gardens were registered as Town Greens.
The Millennium Fund rescued the St Andrew’s Church Walk from being a wilderness. Volunteers regularly work there still, an example that characterizes CHIS’s value to residents and visitors alike.
In 2005 alarmed residents opposed the planned replacement of the 1920s public conveniences by the Suspension Bridge with a new Visitor Centre. CHIS suggested alternative sites but had to resort to law, bringing an action in the Royal Courts of Justice in London against H.M. Secretary of State for Transport, Bristol City Council and the Trustees of Clifton Suspension Bridge. In 2014 CHIS welcomed the Trust’s Plan to build the current Visitor Centre on a site which we had originally proposed.
Members were offered monthly events, quarterly Newsletters and in due course the Website. The Committee decides monthly action and policies (aided by sub-groups for Planning and Publicity). The flow of planning applications is relentless. Developers now customarily meet CHIS at pre-application discussions to iron out problems as far as possible in advance.
Green plaques commemorate distinguished former residents or (recently) Excellence in Design or conservation of buildings.
At almost 50, CHIS is established in the best sense as a respected and experienced guardian of a unique suburb, where residents consult us with confidence.