“We intend to work positively with all parties involved to identify a sensible route forward”
An aerial view of Brislington Meadows; inset, a screen shot of Homes England’s interactive map of the site (Image: Google Maps/ Homes England)
The Government housing agency that now owns a big greenfield site in Bristol has said it still has ‘future plans’ for the location, despite Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees promising it will never be developed.
But Homes England reiterated its desire to ‘identify a sensible route forward’ for the meadows, which look set to be the most expensive ten hectare nature reserve the Government has ever bought.
Homes England was this month due to start consultation with local residents around Brislington Meadows on plans for 300 homes, including 90 council houses, ahead of a planning application being submitted later this year.
But ahead of last Thursday’s election, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees announced that the ten hectares of land should not be built on.
The Mayor said while he’d been focussed on the housing crisis since 2016, the ecological crisis the council declared at the start of 2020 was also important. For that reason, and because the meadows were an important green lung in that corner of south east Bristol, there should be no development there.
Last March, Bristol City Council sold its part of Brislington Meadows for around £3 million to Homes England to develop, and Bristol Live revealed last month that at the same time, the council struck a deal for Homes England to spend £12 million of taxpayers’ money on buying the bulk of the land from a London-based property developer.
Those two deals looked to end the impasse on developing the site that had been in place since it was added to the Local Plan in 2014.
The Mayor’s announcement was welcomed by local residents in Brislington, who have campaigned for years for the land to be protected, not built on, but it was attacked by election rivals for being made so close to the May 6 election day.
After the announcement was made last month, Homes England issued a single line statement saying it wanted to work with those involved to ‘identify a sensible route forward’.
The new Homes England statement, issued after Marvin Rees’ electoral success over the weekend, expanded on that initial position, and was the first acknowledgement that the council and the Mayor had changed their mind.
(Image: James Beck/BristolLive)
“We fully understand the need to balance housing delivery and environmental concerns,” the statement said.
“We intend to work positively with all parties involved to identify a sensible route forward.
“We remain committed to working with local representatives and interest groups on the future plans for Brislington Meadows and will be engaging with partners in the coming weeks,” it added.
Bristol Live asked the Mayor’s Office about Homes England’s statement, and is yet to receive a response.
What has happened with Brislington Meadows? – a timeline
2014 – Just under ten hectares of Brislington Meadows is added to the Local Plan and designated for housing
May 2016 – Mayor Marvin Rees is elected with a pledge to built 2,000 new homes a year, including 800 affordable, by 2020
Dec 2016 – Council cabinet votes to begin working with the development company that owns 7.43 hectares of Brislington Meadows, to come up with a plan for 300 homes, including 90 council homes.
2019 – progress with the landowner, O&H, is slow. Bristol City Council brings the land into public ownership, and Homes England to pay for it.
Jan 2020 – Bristol City Council declares Ecological Emergency