FROM THE CHAIRMAN.
Here is something to reflect upon if, like us, you are concerned about Bristol Zoo’s plans for the West Car Park followed by the Zoological Garden site.
A ZOO AND A FIELD MARSHAL.
The Daily Telegraph’s obituary to Field Marshal Sir John Chapple includes the following achievement in his retirement: ‘In 1992 Chapple was invited to become president of the Zoological Society of London.The zoo was on the point of closing with the loss of 300 jobs and what was meant to be a part-time honorary post became a full-time occupation. A new council was formed and with the help of some substantial donations and a cost-cutting programme, the zoo was put on a firm financial footing’.
How lucky was London Zoo but how greatly the opposite is Bristol’s Zoo. Otherwise it might have been saved, along with the objectionable consequences.
Members may have viewed the following at the Zoo’s website: ‘We understand that the planning application for West Car Park, approved by Bristol City Council in September 2021, will be returned to the Council’s planning committee.
This follows concerns raised by Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society, about the planning process, which will lead to a brief delay.
Bristol Zoological Society’s design for this brownfield site on College Road will bring much-needed housing for Bristol, providing 62 high-quality, environmentally-friendly houses – of which 20% will be affordable’.
This seemingly innocuous neutral comment may be seen for what it is: mere virtue signalling. Since far from being a contribution to Bristol’s housing shortage, the development was engineered to make as much money as possible from the sale, whilst the Zoo’s publicity offered protestations of deep concern to build in a way that upheld the very special character of Clifton, ‘the handsomest suburb in Europe.’
The scheme provoked considerable reservations from Historic England. These were judged to have been inadequately conveyed to the City’s Development Committee. All of this re sulted from the persistent efforts of CHIS and local residents, passionate in opposing the degrading mediocrity and over-massing of the plan.
As I write, Michael Gove envisages a planning system whereby residents will be effectively consulted about planning projects, with a stress on beautiful buildings, as was impressively stressed by Sir Roger Scruton, generally and in a direct comment on the former W.H. Smith site BLOT, which received the go-ahead from Bristol City Council in the teeth of nearly 400 objections
It is not too late for the continual pleas by residents for that disgraceful site to be bought by a benefactor and developed handsomely.
CHIS will continue to keep the sharpest eye on the Zoo’s next move, regarding the West Car Park and Gardens develop ment.
A COMPANION CHIS.
The CHISlehurst Society in Kent has served the interests of its locality and membership since 1934 in the same spirit as ours (from 1968). Some years ago we entertained their committee to a Day’s Tour of Clifton and Hotwells including lunch and a discussion. The compliment was returned a year later, for us to enjoy Chislehurst Common and notable buildings.
There is an interesting historical and personal link. Emperor Napoleon III lived in exile at Camden Place, Chislehurst from 1870 and his mausoleum and that of his wife Eugenie are in the Catholic church in Farnborough. A handsome memorial to the Prince Imperial (a favourite of Queen Victoria) killed in action in Africa in a British Cavalry Regiment, is in Chislehurst).
The connection is this: Eugenie Montijo was at school in 4 Royal York Crescent, as may be seen by our green plaque there to her as the late Empress Eugenie.
In January 2023 the Chislehurst Society will be mounting celebration events on the 150th anniversary of the Emperor’s death and we have provided photographs and information about Eugenie’s youthful stay in Clifton.
LOW TRAFFIC NEIGHBOURHOODS.
These are a cause of bitter conflict all over the realm, our particular one being the closure of part of Princess Victoria Street to favour recreation over the livelihood of many businesses and ease of visitors’ access. We are still unpersuaded [to put it mildly] by our councillors’ gloss on the situation, financially or in terms of air pollution.
It is suggested that the resentment of such impositions [contrary to residents’ opinions] contributed to the change of control on Harrow Council. Newspapers report multiplying protests by furious residents, not mollified by evidence that traffic fumes are funnelled from closed roads to be intensified in the rest.
Princess Victoria Street should be re-opened AND THE UNDER-ADVERTIZED CLOSURE OF PARK STREET TO CARS Scheme should be axed.
Gordon Young obligingly agreed to a later date for the postponed one with an illustrated address on the Suspension Bridge structure and some Civic Society blue plaques in Bristol.
However, the next event, a projected trip to Llandaff Cathedral and the Royal Mint, had to be withdrawn because too few members signed up.
PLAQUES. Two dedications were delayed by the pandemic shutdown now:
To Beryl Corner at 1 Rodney Plaace on Saturday 25th July.
To Beryl Cook at The Coach House, 1A Camp Road on Saturday 9th July.
THE PLANNING GROUP.
Its work has been hampered by failures in Bristol City Council’s Planning Spider, which provides details of all planning developments. Laurence Penney spent much time remedying this situation but it has returned, with no explanation. We pray that a meeting with some officers and councillors will bring about the restoration of these vital procedures.
The Children’s Playground below the Observatory. The prevailing morass underfoot is at last to be properly remedied. Included in the whole work will be the restoration of the art- work on the CHIS-endowed seat.
Our Committee agreed to support (along with a number of local groups) the initiative of Downs for People by which procedures a decision of the Downs Committee be made transparent and membership reviewed.
Our policy regarding solar panels remains the same: in such a Conservation Area they may be allowed only out of public view; likewise for TV dishes though the welcome news is that Sky plan to phase them out in favour of cable or the like.
Overgrown Hedges and Trees. These blights on pavements are ever-more persistent. Reminders of owners’
duties by the City Council are absent. Likewise the blocking of walkways by bins.
We send our congratulations to Cllr Paula O’Rourke on becoming Lord Mayor
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Our first talk of the year proved to be a great success in two ways. Professor John Bradfield’s “News from the Hotwells Waterfront centred on the history of Rownham Mead and the admirably designed estate of houses, of which he is a founding resident. Reinforced by a notably efficient Power-Point presentation, it ranged over geography, civic history and archaeology, from over 2000 years ago. The large audience were stimulated into putting lively questions – just as well as the Apostle Room’s heating system had faded with the setting sun.
By bad luck, a month later the system had failed on the previous day, so that there was little alternative to postponing till April 26th the scheduled Films-Talk by Gordon Young. Notices sent out via the website and neighbourhood messaging services worked unexpectedly well; only seven members arrived at the darkened premises, to be told the problem.
By chance, the system of contacting members via email is on the agenda for the March Committee Meeting.
All being well, the scheduled talk by Stephen Grey-Harris on “Twenty-five objects and their History” will take place on 22nd March.
At 11.00 on March 26th sees the long-planned dedication of the Green Plaque to Angela Carter at 38 Royal York Crescent.
TRAFFIC AND PARKING:
Pedestrianisation of Princess Victoria Street.
Clifton Village BID [Business Improvement District] have commissioned a report by an independent surveyor to consider such matters as the loss of parking spaces, the impact on businesses that rely on heavy/bulky goods [wine merchants, dry cleaner et al] and those that have customers coming from a distance].
We sympathise with the objectors to the scheme. It puts recreational interests before the livlihoods of traders and the needs of the elderly and disabled, on spurious grounds, including unresearched assertions about air pollution. Allusions ti Boyce’s Avenue and cotham Hill projects are ill-based. The first was never an artery for vehicles and the second was supported by traders as well as allowing feasible alternative routes for traffic.
Proposed alterations to No. bus route (i.e. changes to Park Street and The Triangle area).
At the end of our first talk the audience was alerted ti the impact of this innocuously titled plan bt an address from Nick Sargent and Caroline Dix.
At the subsequent Committee Meeting the following was agreed: The consultation closed on 28th January. It was wholly unsatisfactory and put forward as a ’change to the No.2 bus route’, which would have scarcely changed. The reality was that Park Street would be closed to private vehicles; side roads would be affected with public access areas greatly increased. On behalf of CHIS LE opposed these proposals; NS brought maps and visual representations to the meeting so that all attending could see what was proposed. There was unanimous agreement that CHIS had taken the correct decision to oppose this proposal.
The BLOT at what was once the WHS/Clifton on the site remains, awaiting a replacement BLOT of a different kind, a construction opposed by CHIS and 400 objectors but its mass, intrusive extent and mediocre design was supported by our Councillors. The idea of Crowdfunding on a large scale, to purchase the lot and make it a recreational and visual ornament is being floated. Present-day Wills family-type benefacttors will be needed.
One of CHIS’s major lieutenants in standing up to bad developments and unimaginatively supporting good ones is Michael Woodman-Smith. His move to Devon is a great loss but the Committee has written to him in acknowledgment of his professional, experienced advice over many yearw as our Architecturak Consultant, adding the hope that his deep concerb for the quality of our area will not be lessened by distance.
The present Judicial Review of the consent of Bristol City Council for the development of the Zoo Western Car Park site is to go ahead. Support for funding the action from a gratifyingly far range of residents and members, continues to be gathered by Christopher Jefferies.
Likewise, progress with the Our World Project for the Zoo’s main site once it is closed in September is being actively noted.
The Secretary was challenged and CHIS flattered to receive a request from the Beverly Civic Society for advice on the protection and replacement of historic lamp posts. They saw us on our website evidence of our experience in urging theity Council responsibility for preserving what is the greats number of such features outside London.
Our long-planned information board regarding St Andrew’s Churchyard in the Lime Walk by the site of both churches is a new achievement, thanks to work by RoseMary Musgrave, Linda Edwards and Paul Main, with funding contribution from Clifton Rotary Club.
Next will be a board at The Strangers’ Burial Ground on Lower Clifton Hill and the replacement at Clifton Library of the CHIS noticeboard and the repair or replacement of the seat in the forecourt.
The Look Out.
That wonderful asset, funded by subscriptions from many residents and groups, all furthered by CHIS’s initiative, was established in 1996. Time and the elements have made the lettering and stone show signs of wear. We are exploring ways to restore the plaque and stand.
We would welcome from members any recommendation of suitable skilled workers for the task (please contact me or email email@example.com)
There is a comparable challenge on the Draper monuments on Christchurch Green.
We are also suggesting to Bristol Council that trees which now obscure the view of the Bridge be tamed.
Stephen Grey-Harris suggested that there were projects in BS8 that could use this service to improve the area. He contacted the Probation Trust and got this response:
The Avon & Somerset Probation Trust is currently seeking new projects or placements for groups of offenders to work on, in and around the Avon & Somerset area, in particular Bristol.
If you have a suggestion for a project which could be undertaken by their Community Payback teams, or require further information then please contact James Nepean by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by
Tasks/Projects can include things such as: painting buildings, hacking back dense undergrowth, clearing rubbish, or scrubbing graffiti from walls.
Potential ideas for projects around Clifton and Hotwells:
• Repainting the railings of Clifton Library
• Litter picking along paths such as the Zig Zag Path between Hotwells Road and Sion Hill and/or the paths between Clifton Down, the Observatory and Bridge Valley Road. These paths are often overlooked by the council, and it is common for litter to accumulate along the valley.
• Treating the wood in the Suspension Bridge Playground for outdoor weather and repainting play equipment.
• Removing graffiti around Clifton Down Station and elsewhere in Clifton.
• Building planters and planting flowers for the area of the Cumberland Basin near the Rose of Denmark.
• Cutting back undergrowth around the Suspension Bridge Playground and nearby rockslides and paths.
• Painting the fence and cutting back undergrowth in the Cherry Gardens in Cliftonwood, off White Hart Steps.
Further ideas would be welcome, please contact RoseMary Musgrave.
Children’s playground below the Observatory.
Peter Stanley keeps a sharp eye on this. The specially commissioned seat (by CHIS) will, we hope, be given preservative treatment as intended by Bristol City Council and/or the Merchant Venturers.
Likewise much needs to be done to counteract the quagmire resulting from the popularity of the place.
Parents are urged to contact councillors on the matter to plead for necessary treatment.
The Planning Group.
Its vigilance in supporting improvements but resisting harmful developments under the co-leadership of Linda Edwards. Recurring efforts are TV satellite dishes in public view, ditto solar panels in a conservation area, and PVC windows likewise.
Christopher Jefferies attended a meeting of the Cumberland Basin’s Stakeholders in February and reported:
a.The report from the Engagement Consultants is due in March.
b.It was agreed that nothing can reasonably be done until the flood defences have been attended to and some resolution of the road systems made.
c. The question was raised as to why BCC was responsible for the roadway when Long Ashton by-pass and the Portway were the responsibility of Highways England – so why not also the flyovers?
We await the answers with great interest.