Narroways Millennium Green Trust was established in 2000 to manage and protect the open space of Narroways in St Werburghs for wildlife and as a breathing space for local people. The site referred to in this application adjoins Narroways and acts as a natural buffer for wildlife and landscape, complementing the open space in this area of the inner city.
We met as a core group of trustees and activists to discuss this application and give it full consideration because of its important location. We decided by a majority vote that we wish to object to the proposal to build a house on the site.
We acknowledge the fact that the applicants propose a ‘ransom strip’ between the proposed building and the rest of the wildlife garden to give some legal protection preventing further encroachment. We also acknowledge that the applicants’ motives appear genuine in their desire to preserve the landscape and conservation value of the remaining garden.
However we believe that the application should be rejected for several reasons:
- The site is at present rich in wildlife – there are hundreds of records from the past 10 years alone (stored at BRERC) including birds sensitive to disturbance such as Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch and Tawny Owl- a large building with driveway, garage, vehicles and night lighting could only be to the detriment of the biodiversity of this site. The site also acts as an important cushion to the nature reserve of Narroways – this house would be located at the centre of the most undisturbed area.
- The land on which this dwelling is proposed in the present planning application 4/00532/F is designated as Important Open Space (IOS 0186) on Policies Map 8 of the Site Allocations and DMP. Because of this it comes under DM 21 Development Involving ‘Existing private gardens 2.17.2’, which states:
‘Development on part, or all of an Important Open space as designated on the Policies Map will not be permitted unless the development is ancillary to the open space use’
This development is not ancillary to the preservation of open space because we understand that local residents have offered the owners market value for the land to buy the site to preserve the whole open space as a conservation area managed as a Trust.
Two other classifications are pertinent:
Unidentified Open Spaces
Development which would result in the loss of open space which is locally important for recreation, leisure and community use, townscape and visual amenity will not be permitted.
Proposals which would harm important features such as green hillsides, promontories, ridges, valleys, gorges, areas of substantial tree cover and distinctive manmade landscapes will not be permitted
This land has never before been built on (it was previously allotments).
- We believe granting building permission for development on this open space would set an unwelcome precedent for local open spaces such as allotments and small parks (even though at present in public ownership) and raise their potential market value encouraging more applications such as this one. This could put at risk open spaces not just in St Werburghs but even further afield within the Bristol City Council area. It would totally undermine the Site Allocations process.
- We believe aspects of the application are inaccurate – the area of trees that would be removed seems considerably larger than the 5% area mentioned on page 41 of the Design and Access Statement and we believe the visual impact would be much greater across the whole valley than shown in the photomontage included in the documents. This would be the first new building on the slopes of the open space around Narroways.
- There are plenty of brown field sites locally – The Wallis Estate across the road from the proposed development, the former gasholder site on Glenfrome Road, the former Brooks site, the former Petrol Station on Lower Ashley Road – development of these could contribute to the St Werburghs housing stock and visual amenity instead of building on important open space. The self-build homes at The Yard, for example, transformed a former concrete scaffolding yard into a diverse and visually interesting collection of buildings.
- We are concerned that any future owners of the site will have no obligation to maintain the conservation value of the garden and may complain about shading from trees on Narroways nature reserve.
- Narroways Trust objectives include:
- Include significant ‘natural’ areas where people can enjoy nature and wildlife at first hand
- Make Narroways an attractive place for people to take air and exercise, meet others and pursue leisure activities and pastimes consistent with the shared enjoyment of the whole of the land
- Make a positive contribution to the local environment and respect the established character of the area
- Take steps as the trustees may from time to time consider appropriate to increase the suitability of the property as a place on or from which to enjoy nature and natural beauty
- To co-operate with other charities, voluntary bodies and statutory authorities operating in furtherance of the objects or of similar charitable purposes and to exchange information and advice with them
NB There is at present also a boundary issue between Narroways Millennium Green and the garden involving this planning application in which over 200 sq metres of Narroways woodland appear to have been incorporated into the garden (land registry title no. BL66300). This is at present being investigated by NMGT landlords, Bristol City Council