Residents' fury as new homes set to tower over estate

November 02 2020
Residents' fury as new homes set to tower over estate

Residents in Cheswick say a new housing development in neighbouring Lockleaze will tower over their homes - and crucially ignore the planning restrictions which were imposed by Bristol City Council when their own properties were built.

by Rich Coulter

The householders in Aurora Springs - the part of Cheswick under Bristol City Council control - say the 268-home development on the Romney House site backed by the council should go back to the drawing board. They say that when their own homes were built eight years ago, developers were forced to keep the roofline low to comply with green space rules. 
 
new homes green space
 
Documents seen by Filtonvoice show the council placed many planning regulations on the previous Redrow development of the adjacent land which both fall within the Stapleton and Frome Valley Conservation area. Residents say the council are now completely ignoring these restrictions on their own development. When Aurora Springs was built, the developer Redrow effectively had to‘sink' the new homes into the ground when they were built to keep the height acceptable. 
It was ruled that no homes in Cheswick should be visible above the tree line when viewed from the M32 or from anywhere in Stoke Park. Not only did the land levels have to be reduced but all properties along the woodland edge had to be considerably set back.
But the new development will have homes towering over the tree line. 
 
Line of Sight Aroura hill
 
This is partly because the site of the new development has been raised up by earth excavated when Aurora Springs was built. The city council allowed previous developer Redrow Homes to dump contaminated spoil on the site of the Romney development, thus raising the land levels considerably.
Katherine Hill, who has lived in Long Wood Meadows for eight years, said she had no objection to the new development as housing is desperately needed. But she is angry that it seemed to be one rule for the homes in her street and a completely different set of rules for the new homes being built in partnership with BCC.
She said: "When Redrow built here, there was a height limit relative to the woodland and the M32 and our homes had to be set back and ground levels reduced to comply.
"How can it be that Bristol City Council seemed to impose one set of rules on Redrow back then but no limitations on the new development even though they are both in the same Conservation Area.
"These new homes will tower over ours and look directly into our back gardens leading to a loss of privacy and light"
Mrs Hill said her Labour councillors Gill Kirk and Estella Tincknell had not listened to their concerns.
Other residents told Filtonvoice they fear their part of Cheswick will be used by residents of the new homes to park their cars. One resident, who did not wish to be named, said that anyone living in the new homes but using the M32 to go to work would find it easier to leave their car in Cheswick rather than take the long route round Lockleaze and Filton Avenue.
He also said he had fears that crime would increase with easy access to Cheswick back gardens due to the city council desiring accessibility between the two sites. One planned access point, which is less than 100 metres away from an established pedestrian and cycle route, is being pushed ahead despite the objections made at outline planning by Avon and Somerset Police and their concerns that it is unnecessary and could lead to increased crime levels in Cheswick.
Former parish councillor Dave Beesley, who has been supporting the residents, added: "It is unfair that people who have put their lifetime investment into their property should be treated so unfairly by their local authority and councillors. I thought we lived in a democratic society but it would appear we have an autocratic Labour Council forcing their way through the planning process with scant regard for Cheswick residents or planning restrictions associated with the Stapleton and Frome Valley Conservation Area”.
"I feel BCC and its councillors have abandoned the residents of Cheswick Village and because of this I believe a full and independent investigation into this application and how it has been handled to date would be appropriate."
Cllr Tincknell said: "Housing is the Mayor’s top priority for Bristol, which is experiencing a major housing crisis. In Lockleaze, much of our casework concerns overcrowding, problems with access to affordable housing, and difficulties in finding accommodation that enables people to remain close to their families Within the area. We are therefore committed to trying to ensure there is better and genuinely affordable housing across the ward. Around 55% of the homes built at the Romney House site will be affordable.  However, as local ward councillors we don’t ultimately determine the decisions of the planning committee. 
"In addition to the statutory planning consultation processes, there have been a large number of consultation events and activities as well as a regular Lockleaze Residents’ Planning Group. Cllr Kirk and I do our best to respond to all concerns and to make sure they are taken on board by developers and by the planning committee. 
"We hope that the new TRO for the parts of Cheswick Village which are in Lockleaze Ward, and which has taken a lot of work to push through, will help to manage the parking problems that residents experience there and about which we share their concerns. The bus gate on Romney Avenue which restricts traffic access to Cheswick Village will continue to operate and this will also help to control through traffic.”