Brislington Meadows Advisory Group (BMAG) Meeting notes
BMAG has been set up to help involve the local community ahead of the main consultation.

The group is made up of twenty local residents including neighbours, councillors, community groups and wider users, all bringing different perspectives from ecology to active travel; those with concerns, those who support and those who want to get the best for Brislington out of this. It is designed to be small enough to encourage conversation but large enough to be representative. The group meets every six or so weeks and includes updates from the team, discussions on different aspects and a Q&A session.

On the call included John Boutwood (Homes England), Paul Connelly, lead consultant (LDA Design) Tom Selway, consultation lead (Cadence PR) and 13 local residents.

Intro – Tom introduced the meeting and thanked everyone for joining and giving up their time. We have a few new members, Jo Moore who is Chair of Friends of Eastwood Farm and Caroline from BS4 Wildlife. With a few people generally not able to attend each meeting, we have spaces for 2 or 3 new members if you have any suggestions.

Process update – John said that there was not much more to report on the progress of the masterplan since the last meeting but we are very keen to keep the dialogue going. Important technical work e.g on engineering/drainage solutions has continued, including specialist input from the consultant team and Homes England in-house experts. Progress is a bit slow but it is important to get all technical aspects of the plan right before moving onto consultation.

Masterplan consultation – With the elections now having been confirmed for the 6th May and Purdah (the pre-election period with restrictions on public events) starting from 23 March, we have had to put the main consultation back to the end of May. This is frustrating but, as a Government agency, unavoidable. There is now plenty of time to prepare a strategy for this consultation, which is still likely to be impacted by Covid restrictions. BMAG will be asked for their views on the proposed arrangements.

Green link application on the Sinnott House land - John explained that the team had had to submit the recent minor planning application on this land to manage the legal risk of a Town or Village Green claim being made and protect the public investment HE had made in the BM site. Whilst the chance of a successful claim being made was considered low, legal advice had confirmed this couldn't be guaranteed. This advice, along with the inability to get insurance to cover for this risk, has forced Homes England to take proactive action. John apologised for the confusion this has caused. He also confirmed that there were no immediate plans to undertake the works included under the application (although some planting on the boundary of 162 Broomhill Road will be progressed), as the eventual developer of the site would be responsible for providing the green corridor and pedestrian link.

JW explained that it had caused significant alarm and asked that an explanation note be put forward faster if there was a next time.

Timings - In terms of the overall programme for the project, John explained that Homes England were now anticipating the outline planning application being submitted in August, with development not likely to start until Summer 2023.

Tree Preservation Order – HR asked about the TPO objection Homes England had made last year. Paul said that an initial TPO had been made by Bristol City Council 'in haste' in April 2020 and legally was not properly served. It also included trees that were not, in Homes England opinion, of sufficient quality/value to warrant a TPO. This included many trees/scrub in the woodland area to the rear of Sinnott House which BCC covered in a blanket designation. Following the objection, BCC then visited the site last Summer and re-evaluated the trees included in the TPO. Subsequently it was then withdrawn and re-issued, with the lesser value trees removed. This was not subject to objection by Homes England and the tree protection will be taken into account in the masterplanning of the site.

Hedgerows - HR asked if we could expect further tree and hedgerow loss, and DM stressed their ecological value as well as time it would take to establish new replacement planting. Paul responded stressing the value the team were putting on the hedgerow and trees in a 'nature led' approach, and as many of the existing natural assets would be protected as possible. There will be some that will need to be removed to provide access points etc but the aim will be to limit the impact wherever possible to lowest value 'assets', and protect the most important hedgerows and trees. The current application shows some of our commitment to this by including an important green link.

Archaeology – Our geo-physical survey (radar penetrating below ground) suggest there could be archaeological features on site (see plan below). While they are unlikely to be of significance, normal practice dictates that we should investigate further, which we are keen to do. Over the coming months we will commence the digging of about forty 30 m long trial trenches, which will be filled in again once investigated. The start date will depend on the weather but is likely to be May. Anything that is found will be made public.

DM warned about potential unexploded ordnance as there are a dozen bomb craters in the area.

Planning application - Paul explained that the August application would be an 'outline application'. This is a high level plan that, should planning be granted, would be followed by more detailed applications, supported by consultation. Those more detailed applications (Reserved Matters) would be brought forward by an appointed developer, monitored closely by Homes England to ensure a high quality development is delivered in line with the original masterplan.

Pylons - How close are we able to build to the pylons? Paul responded that we have a significant buffer within which we are not allowed to build houses. Within that buffer we are looking at including things like ponds (drainage solutions), new ecological habitats, walking and cycling paths.

Alternative access to Broomhill Road - Why can't Bonville Road or School Road be used as a main or secondary vehicular access to help reduce traffic on Broomhill Road which is a concern? John said that we have fully investigated all options. On Bonville there are suitability, commercial and logistical issues, and that BCC Highways had raised concerns too. School Road has significant gradient and technical issues that make it extremely challenging and costly and we have been advised that the approach would not be acceptable to BCC in highway terms.

Improved pedestrian and cycle links – It was suggested that it would be very useful to have an all-weather route down through Victory Park, avoiding Bonville Road, to Bath Road where the shops are. Bonville Road has heavy vehicles and safety considerations. Paul said that we support improved access from Broomhill to Bath Road and are looking at this. This will be picked up further in a future BMAG/Liveable Neighbourhood meeting. It was explained that pedestrian/cycle links from the site were being proposed to School Road along the existing footpath (between the allotments) and alongside the school next to the nursery to link the site to Allison Road/Fermaine Avenue. Dougal said it was very encouraging to hear about the new links.

Pedestrian safety – a question was asked about safety and lighting along the right of way that runs between the allotments. Paul said we'd been talking to the Rights of Way Officer at Bristol about this and this would need to be improved.

Anti-social behaviour – We were asked to consider preventing motorbikes from gaining access here and also litter and dog mess. Paul advised that this would be covered by the site management arrangements.

Access for emergency vehicles – How would the emergency access work be policed? The detail on this is yet to be considered but a similar scheme in Plymouth uses rising bollards.

Buses – We were asked if there had been conversations with the bus companies yet about improving public transport. Paul replied that this would come once we are clearer on the number of houses to be built but that we will talk to our transport consultant about starting conversation with First.

Broomhill Road – Cllr Rippington said that Councillors have not given up on the ambition to halt city traffic coming down Broomhill Road. RN asked that strategic plans from WECA are considered as part of the highways work and Paul advised that we are receiving advice on strategic highways direct from BCC.

7.5 lorries – Broomhill, School and Wick Road have 7.5 tonne restrictions that seem to be constantly abused. Can HE surveys be shared to see the scale of this? Paul will raise this question with our transport consultant.

Is it cost affective to be building here? John responded that it's a challenging site but it is allocated for housing and there is a significant need for new housing in Bristol. The site had been stalled for many years and Home England's role is to help bring housing forward.

Consultation – A member kindly commended the engagement being carried out which was appreciated.

Site management – It was raised that the contractors who had put down bark on the site had come from Berkshire – why were local firms not used? John said he would look into this but suspected it could be linked to procurement processes that Homes England had to follow.

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