Park Life

13 09 2010

Me next to the Malago

There is a lot of concern with the Lib Dem Council’s sell off of various green spaces. Bishopsworth has a number of great green spaces my personal favourite is the walk along the Malago.

In Bishopsworth a lot of people have raised concerns with proposal BSA 3018 at page 302 – the sell off of about 0.4 hectares of land in the pleasant Kings Head Lane Park. The intention is to build about 21 dwellings on the site leading to more congestion on busy roads and slicing up valued green space.

To me, the exercise the Lib Dem Cabinet are embarking on in Bishopsworth tears up any green credentials they pretended to have.

You can read my written submission to full council here and see my speech here at 1 hr and 2 minutes at the 7th September 2010 Council Meeting.

I’m also concerned about the proposal’s in relation to BSA 1310 page 306 in relation to Withywood Park and would be interested in speaking to locals about likely impact and concerns

Unfortunately bumbling, dithering and costly Cllr. Gary Hopkins is in charge of the process for these parks so we can only hope that he will be moved by public representations. There was little evidence of this at the Council meeting. He seemed to bury his head in his papers and ignored people’s representations. This was a little depressing given the high public turn out.

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34 responses

14 09 2010
Alex Woodman

Unfortunately Darren you seem to be confusing two separate processes and documents: the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy, and the Site Allocations/Proposed Designations. You also fail to point out that both are currently the subject of consultation, and that the former was actually started by a Tory-backed Labour administration. It is disingenuous therefore to suggest that this is solely a Lib Dem exercise.

The Parks and Green Spaces strategy, which had cross-party support when it was adopted, is looking for areas of low value green space in the city which might be sold to pay for improvements to other parks. The current consultation is a way of finding out which bits of land people feel are actually low value, and those which are valued by the local community. Your views, like those of all the other respondents, will be considered after the consultation has finished.

The Site Allocations/Proposed Designations, which you refer to above (proposals BSA 3018 and BSA1310) is a separate process of drawing up a new planning policy for the city. The final Site Allocations document will identify specific sites in the city and give guidance on what kind of development might be given planning permission on that site. It is not a definitive statement of what WILL happen, but rather guidance on what is likely to be given planning permission.

This is why we have a development control system – so that the Council can ensure that the city has enough land for housing, industrial, retail etc uses. The current plan for the city – the 1997 Bristol Local Plan – contains exactly the same kind of information for various sites, but it is now hopelessly out of date. As with the Parks and Green Spaces strategy, the proposed Site Allocations are currently being consulted on, and if you read the document carefully, you will see that both sites have a couple of options – allocate for housing, or ‘do not allocate for development’.

14 09 2010
turningbristolred

Welcome to the blog Alex.

You are correct I conflate the 2 processes but only because they will, of course, be conflated in the public mind and in practical reality.

Once you sell off the “low value” land (as you call it), it will be to a developer who will almost certainly apply to build the buildings similar to those in the site allocations. People should logically look at the 2 together for a glimpse into their future if Bristol Lib Dems get their way.

The fact both process are consultations is obvious to anyone reading the documents which I have clearly linked. I’m pretty sure my readers are smart enough to work this out without spoon feeding.

Lib Dems put the proposals forward people oppose or accept them. I don’t think this is right for Bishopsworth. So I oppose it. No problem there. I’ve not heard of a single Lib Dem Cllr supporting the consultations as I understand it their all actively campaigning against their own Cabinet’s intentions.

The number and extent of green spaces under consultation is pretty surprising. None in your ward are there?

The Lib Dem Cabinet and their apologists will constantly point to a degree of cross party consensus at the start of the green spaces process. That is in relation to the general principle. In relation to the general principles yes there may well be some scraps of green spaces no one uses and have limited value and no wildlife. In those circumstances it may well be sold off. That general principle is sound. The Cabinet’s application of the principle is what is concerning. These are not post industrial scraps waste land but peoples parks and play areas.

Now I’m afraid I have a busy day of work so won’t be able to come back on any follow up

Best wishes

D

14 09 2010
Alex Woodman

Thanks for your welcome Darren. I’m looking forward to some meaningful discussion and debate with you, rather than some of the mindless insult trading which we were both guilty of yesterday.

I agree that the two processes are inevitably linked, which is why the Council opted to consult on both at the same time. However, it is also important that the distinction between the two is made – it would be perfectly possible for the land to be sold off, and to then be used for something completely different to what is contained in the Site Allocations. And similarly, it might not be sold, in which case the Site Allocations become redundant.

You’re quite right that there is no reason that you shouldn’t oppose the plans for Bishopsworth. That’s the whole point of a consultation. However, you keep referring to these as proposals ‘put forward by the Lib Dems’. In actual fact, the sites being consulted on were identified by officers, following the process agreed by all parties. To agree to a process, and to then criticise the result of that process is simply hypocritical. Even the (independent) Bristol Parks Forum recognise that the process, and conclusions so far, have been fair, reasonable, and reflect what was agreed by Lib Dems, Lab and Tory.

Finally, on Cabot, you’re correct that there are no sites in my ward. That’s because I represent the city centre, where there is a shortage of green space – Cabot already fails to meet the minimum quantity standards, so how could it possibly be justified selling any of the precious little we already have!?

14 09 2010
Art of the Possible

“The current consultation is a way of finding out which bits of land people feel are actually low value, and those which are valued by the local community.”

But Alex, with open space so rare now in most parts of Bristol, the likelihood is that every single area is precious. Even the fast disappearing so-called “brownfield” sites are incredibly well used, and enjoyed by many people, especially the young – whose voices often go unheard, note – for the informal play that is so crucial to development.

What will you do if ALL the green-spaces are valued by the local community?

14 09 2010
Alex Woodman

The logical conclusion of that line of thinking is that nothing ever changes, and nothing every improves.

You’re right that open space is rare in some parts of Bristol (including Cabot) which is why, as you pointed out earlier, there are no proposals for sales in those areas. However, I’m sure that for every single bit of green space in the city, you could find somebody for whom it is of value – as you say, even those ‘brownfield’ sites. The question that must be asked though is ‘do the benefits of the sale outweigh the disadvantages?’ In some cases, the answer will be no, and the current consultation is a useful way of finding where that is the case. However, for some, it will be yes, and the advantage of improvements to other parks and open spaces will mitigate the loss of what is sold.

As you mention the importance of informal play, and the voices of the young, it’s perhaps worth remembering what the Parks & Green Space Strategy sets out to achieve. Amongst its policies for informal green space are:

“IG1 Upgrade some areas of informal green spaces to allow for safe
informal play and sport, including enclosing them with railings
and making them dog free”

and

“IG3 Improve grounds maintenance focussing on the basics of grass
cutting, litter and fly tipping and dog fouling”

Similarly, for formal play space, the strategy sets out to “Increase the number of play spaces, providing larger, better quality spaces well distributed across the city, working to a minimum size of 600m2.” I hope you would agree that these are all laudable objectives.

14 09 2010
turningbristolred

The sad reality is that given the state of the cuts that the Bristol Lib Dem Cabinet are supporting I doubt there will be much upgrading of informal green spaces.

I expect revenue raised will be going straight to formal parks like Queen’s Square or St. Andrews Park. All in the more affluent areas.

It’s a system that asks the poorest to make sacrifices for the benefit of the wealthy. It’s a sytem I expect we’re going to get familiar with under the ConDems

14 09 2010
Alex Woodman

It’s worth remembering that it was the Lib Dems who wanted to increase the proportion of revenue reinvested in parks and open spaces, against a Labour administration who did not!

Neighbourhood Partnerships will have an important role to play in deciding how money is reinvested locally, and I see no justification for or evidence supporting your belief that it will be going ‘straight to formal parks…in the more affluent areas’. If that were to happen (which I don’t think it will) then I would agree with you that the policy was wrong.

14 09 2010
turningbristolred

I don’t know if that’s true or the reasoning behind it so I can speak to it.

The neighbourhood partnerships role will be as important as the Lib Dem Cabinet allows it to be.

I foresee economic necessity being invoked regularly by Gary Hopkins.

14 09 2010
Alex Woodman

If I recall correctly, in the original Labour plans in 2008, no money was to be ringfenced for park improvements. We weren’t happy about that, and pushed for at least 70% to be reinvested in parks which was subsequently agreed.

As for Neighbourhood Partnerships, it is one of our flagship policies, so I have every confidence that the Cabinet will ensure that have maximum involvement. I think that the ongoing programme of budget & powers devolution to the NPs speaks for itself.

14 09 2010
Art of the Possible

“The logical conclusion of that line of thinking is that nothing ever changes, and nothing every improves”

Errr, sorry? There is no logic whatever to your assertion. The simple fact is that you cannot get a quart into a pint pot. You can only cram so many people into a given area without negatively impacting on quality of life.

“even those ‘brownfield’ sites”

You seem to still labour under the false (if widely promoted and self-serving) assumption that “brownfields” are worth little. In fact many “brownfields” are of high wildlife value, particularly if compared to the “greenfields” of agribusiness monoculture and sterile formal grass areas.

In addition “brownfields” are, by and large, far more popular with children and young people, who will often play and explore happily in “wasteland” for hours on end, while ignoring expensively designed artificial play areas that councils and their (adult) consultants like best.

You fail to address these issues satisfactorily, and just seem to come out with bureaucrat-speak that does not answer the case.

“The question that must be asked though is ‘do the benefits of the sale outweigh the disadvantages?’”

Ah, but who gets the benefits and who gets the disadvantages? Very often they accrue to different groups of people in any given situation, and I think we all know who generally gets which.

14 09 2010
Stockwood Pete

Alex:

I agree there’s a lot of hypocrisy from Labour and Tory critics of the sell-off plans. They all approved it when it was adopted by a Labour Cabinet back in February 2008. I was at that Cabinet meeting and put in a Public Forum Statement on behalf of the Bristol South Green Party opposing that part of the strategy. Even Gary Hopkins now admits that the Greens were opposed! Consensus it wasn’t. Not quite.

You say that “Neighbourhood Partnerships will have an important role to play in deciding how money is reinvested locally” , confident that “As for Neighbourhood Partnerships, it is one of our flagship policies, so I have every confidence that the Cabinet will ensure that have maximum involvement”,

Have you looked at the Neighbourhood Partnerships recently? The Agendas are set centrally, virtually the same for every Partnership; similar reports, similar recommendations. The sole opportunity for residents to raise issues at the quarterly meeting is the chance to make statements in the Public Forum section of the meeting.

Oops! Whatever happened to the Public Forum?

OK, you didn’t know, no-one had told you. Join the club.

14 09 2010
turningbristolred

Hello Pete.

Welcome to the blog and thank you for the information you sent me on the ring road in the discussion we had sometime ago. I enjoy reading your blog.

I don’t think its hypocrisy the general principle I set out below stands. It’s the implementation of that principle by the Lib Dem Cabinet I find very disappointing and very unfair.

Alex says well these are officers proposals… that is a little disappointing too.

Harry Truman had a sign on his desk saying “The buck stops here.”

I think its should be stuck to every local politician.

Are officers in charge or is Gary Hopkins? If he was opposed to a site sell off (for example parkland) he could have asked that it be excluded from the process. He didn’t.

Peter also spells out a good point about how much power and influence neighbourhood partnerships are likely to have over the dosh. I can’t see this cabinet allowing much freedom with revenue raised. Given how happy they are to implement ConDem cuts to Bristol that is unsurprising.

15 09 2010
Alex Woodman

Darren, the point is that this is a *consultation*. If Gary Hopkins were to start randomly removing specific proposals, we might as well not bother asking people what they think, and instead just let Gary decide what is sold and what’s not.

Ultimately, the buck does stop with him, but only when a decision is actually made.

You’ve also said (more than once) that Labour agreed with the principle, but now disagrees with the way the Lib Dems are implementing it. As far as I am aware, we have done exactly what the policy says. So could you outline in a bit more detail exactly what you mean by this? What exactly have the Lib Dems done which is contrary to the principles and policy which Labour previously agreed with?

15 09 2010
Alex Woodman

Hi Pete. I’m sorry to hear that your Neighbourhood Partnership isn’t really cutting its teeth – some seem to have been really successful, while others have been struggling. I know that Bev Knott, whose portfolio includes NPs, is keen to hear suggestions for how they could be improved. He’s certainly had many from me!

Setting aside for a moment the practical implementation of the NP model, it’s worth remembering the principle behind it – we want to give a greater say to local communities, both by giving their own elected councillors some decision making powers, and by involving them in the decision making process. Whether or not there are problems with implementation, that principle remains the case, and I have no doubt that the Cabinet will apply it to this issue as well.

15 09 2010
Stockwood Pete

Hi Alex

I’ll make no claim that our (Hengrove and Stockwood) Neighbourhood Partnership is one of the front runners. I get the impression that the councillors hearts aren’t in it, and I can understand that, given that their task is simply to get through an agenda, imposed upon them from outside, in the couple of hours available. I think this particular problem is shared between pretty well all of the NPs.

A local topic may be pressing, perhaps the biggest talking point in the neighbourhood, but there is now no chance to raise it in a Partnership meeting. The agenda is predetermined. Even the Public Forum has been removed. I turned up at our last one, having submitted a Statement, only to have it was ruled inadmissible! Nothing to do with what it said, just that there was no Public Forum to receive it.

It’s all very well talking about ‘giving a greater say to local communities’ but the reality is that our say has become minimal; it’s limited to those items on the externally imposed agenda. It would be hard to think that happened by mistake, someone somewhere took the decision to keep us quiet and under control.

Before this last meeting there was already a loss of public interest, in that very few people seem to go twice. If NPs don’t reach out to residents with a real offer of participation, they’ll quickly be reduced to token meetings of ward councillors plus the hardier usual suspects – making them remain as an expensive waste of time.

15 09 2010
Alex Woodman

Pete – the agenda for the Neighbourhood Partnership is set by the Partnership itself. It should not be ‘imposed from outside’. I know for my NP (Cabot, Clifton, Clifton East) we have an agenda-setting meeting about 3-4 weeks before the main meeting. As for public forum, it hasn’t been removed, and indeed is guaranteed by the Partnerships’ Terms of Reference. Have a look at http://bit.ly/9rBe0t – you will find public forum at para 4.10 on page 16, and agenda-setting right at the end of page 19.

Coincidentally, the issues that you’ve raised with regard to Hengrove and Stockwood were also brought up at this morning’s Licensing Committee meeting by Jay Jethwa, and I know that Jos Clark and Sylvia Doubell are also discussing the situation with Bev Knott. I believe that what has happened is that an over-zealous (new?) officer has tried to do things like scrap public forum, without realising that they cannot (and should not!) do this. Hopefully what happened at the last meeting was a one-off which will not be repeated.

15 09 2010
Stockwood Pete

Thanks, Alex, that’s very interesting. I hadn’t spotted the item on agenda setting in the Terms of Reference, but Jay J. had told me the councillors don’t set the agenda.

What a mess, eh? It still seems to extend over other NPs (judging by the agendas for this round). I’m glad Jos Clark and Sylvia Doubell are raising it with Bev Knott – at our NP meeting all the councillors seemed to close ranks in mutual defence!

And we still missed our sole chance to deal with the land disposals at the meeting.

14 09 2010
Stockwood Pete

There have already been land sales, though not (I think) as part of the AGSPs, and not earning the council a penny. I have in mind the Alderman Moore allotment site and the ‘ransom strip’ of the car park at Ashton Gate stadium. Alderman Moore’s of course, was handed over with the extra benefit of planning permission that excluded the usual obligation to include affordable housing. That pushed the value up.

From the AGSP land sales, 30% goes into the common council pot, 70% goes into parks. From the Ashton ‘sale’, nothing goes to either.

Still, lets suppose that Neighbourhood Partnerships really do get to decide how the dosh from AGSP ‘low value land’ sales will be spent. How will the money be shared out between Partnerships? Equally? That would mean a net flow from the outer wards to the wealthier inner city. Very regressive.

15 09 2010
Alex Woodman

Unlike most politicians, I don’t try and dodge questions, so I will admit that I do not know the answer to this. However, the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy seeks to ensure an even distribution of quality green space (in all its forms) across the city, and so the sensible thing would be for the greatest investment to be in the areas with the greatest need. The point of having a strategy is so that decisions can be made in an open, transparant and consultative way, rather than behind closed doors, as has been the case in the past.

15 09 2010
Stockwood Pete

My original critique of the PGSS was limited to the land sales, which are clearly both unsustainable and regressive. The PGSS objectives, though, to apply a universal standard of access to parks and green spaces for all residents, looked so obviously good that they went unquestioned.

I’m not so sure now. If you were designing a new town, clearly such standards would make a lot of sense – but can they be applied retrospectively to a very diverse city? Is it really practicable to provide more accessible green space within reach of everyone in the more built-up areas? Haven’t residents choice of a place to live, and established lifestyles, been guided by what’s available in each of our very different neighbourhoods?

If you accept that with diversity comes greater choice, then imposing universal standards looks rather less attractive. That applies especially here, where we may be blessed with more than average open space, but that has been a big factor in our choosing to live here, rather than enjoy the benefits of living centrally.

15 09 2010
Alex Woodman

That position would make sense if people chose where they live based solely on green space. But they don’t – they decide based on a whole range of factors such as schools, work, transport, family, money etc… Some people don’t really have a choice, and live where there do out of necessity.

With that thought in mind, I think it is a laudable aim to try and ensure minimum standards for every resident of the city. It will benefit children – who don’t choose where they live – by making sure that they all have a safe, enjoyable and close place to play.

Having said that, I agree that providing new green space in built-up areas will be challenging. But it’s not impossible. Castle Park is perhaps the most dramatic example of that! Not that I’m suggesting that we repeat the horror of WWII, but there are ways of creating new green space (and protecting bits that are under threat) in even the most unlikely places.

15 09 2010
turningbristolred

Politicians are entitled and frequently do remove options from consideration if they are politically opposed to it. It’s called leadership.

I would have thought given the Lib Dem green rhetoric at the election that putting parts of locally valued park land would have been something he would have opposed instantly. Evidently not.

I’m afraid the Lib Dem mantra of “its a consultation” then followed by “we have to do it was in the consultation/we didn’t get any proper responses from the consultation” etc is a familiar strain.

We are all also familiar with we “inherited the plan” spiel. (This is a particular favourite of Jon Rogers). Yeeeeees but you can do something different I believe that’s why you were elected. Plans conceived under one administration don’t have to be followed and proposals by officers can be altered. Lib Dems infrequently make any changes.

As for the principle it is (supported by 3 mains parties)- that there may be bits low value green space land which members of the public don’t want or value and these can be sold.

As for the practice/implementation by the Lib Dems- A selection of a large number of sites on parkland in working class areas of the city.

There is little doubt this is one of an even larger tranche of cuts and sell offs resulting from the fact that Cllr. Janke intended a 2% rise in Council tax for your next budget and her master in Whitehall George Osbourne slapped her down.

Finally- Alex you seem to have a lot of time to comment on these blogs. I think I read a response to someone on Stephen’s blog that he gets a large amount of correspondence. I’d hate for this to be neglected.

I’m not a professional politician and I don’t work in an MPs office so you’ll forgive me if I cant maintain your rate of posts

17 09 2010
Alex Woodman

On the contrary Darren, I don’t have “lots of time to comment” – I had a couple of (well deserved!) days off earlier this week, so had plenty of opportunities to read and refute some of the fatuous remarks here. And now I’m happy to be able to spend 15 more minutes doing so…

As I have already said, the Lib Dems (like Labour and the Tories) supported the PGSS when it was adopted, and so why wouldn’t we continue that process now that we’re the administration?

The Strategy sets out that “value represents a range of cultural and usage factors which are much harder to measure or change. Some dimensions of
value are captured in existing planning policy – protecting archaeology, wildlife, historic landscapes for example. Others are social and require public consultation to identify them. Assessing value is therefore difficult and time consuming.”

It goes on to say that “Value will, therefore, be assessed at the stage
when Area Green Space Plans are being drawn up and sites are being identified as possible candidates for change of use/type of green space
or disposal.”

Area Green Space Plans have now been drawn up, and a value assessment has done by officers for every single site. The Strategy outlines the following factors to be taken into account when doing that assessment:

Level of use
Community views of the space
Community involvement
Equalities considerations
Educational significance
Demographic change
Level of anti-social behaviour
Events potential
Accessibility
Local context and significance
Landscape significance
Nature Conservation significance
Archaeological/Historical significance
Legal Status
Contribution to the local economy
Sustainability significance

After completing the assessment, several sites which seemed to be ‘low value’ were identified for possible disposal. However, as above, ‘value’ is very difficult to measure, and so no disposals are taking place before consultation to ask residents what they think.

You say that the actual implementation of the policy by the Lib Dems is what you oppose, and suggest that we’ve simply chosen “a selection of a large number of sites on parkland in working class areas of the city”. I’ve outlined above the policy (which Labour supported) and I’ve demonstrated that we have implemented that policy exactly as intended. The result is a list of sites which might possibly be disposed of, with that list being drawn up after following the process that Labour agreed to.

So once again I will ask: what exactly have the Lib Dems done differently to the policy that your party previously supported? A vague assertions that there are some sites in there that you don’t agree with is not a good answer.

18 09 2010
turningbristolred

Goodness me! Politicking on your days off, politicking at 8 o’clock on a Friday night. Well at least it shows you are committed to your party if nothing else.

I’ve set out the general principle, I’ve set out the problem with the Lib Dem cabinet’s application of it. You’ve not “demonstrated” it was implemented as intended by all the parties you’ve given a partial argument why Gary did what he did.

What you have demonstrated is that this Lib Dem cabinet exercises little creative leadership. They implement policies and consultation drafted by officers without any political input.

That’s not leadership… its administration.

Now according to dear old Jon Rogers repeating a question is reason enough for him to block me on Twitter. So I don’t see you repeating it a 3rd time because you reject the premise of my argument as an useful use of anyone’s time.

17 09 2010
Art of the Possible

Alex Woodman: “… [T]he Parks and Green Spaces Strategy seeks to ensure an even distribution of quality green space (in all its forms) across the city …”

Well, that’s a real giveaway sentence, Alex!

Given the fact that the overcrowded inner areas simply do not have much spare land lying about, waiting to be turned into quality (?) green space, this, by definition, means that a levelling down, a race to the bottom, will be going on in Bristol. Overall, the poor of the outer areas will have their green-space taken away, while the poor of the inner city will not gain any (desperately needed) green space, and the already privileged and well-to-do will simply jump in their cars in ever greater numbers to drive off to nicer, greener places in their free time.

Not very fair. Not very sustainable.

17 09 2010
Alex Woodman

I’m not sure why ‘quality’ deserves a question mark? The PGSS covers all kinds of public open space including, for example, formal parks and kids’ play areas. ‘Quality’ therefore refers to things like the formal parks being looked after (litter removed, bins emptied etc) or having well-maintained play equipment of a high standard.

The PGSS defines various minimum standards (quantity, quality, distance…), one of which is a minimum of 27.8 sq. m per capita of open space across the city. Lots of central areas don’t even meet this minimum standard at the moment, and you’re right that creating new open space in those areas isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible, and it definitely doesn’t mean a ‘race to the bottom’ for the outer areas until they have the same shortage. The PGSS specifically says:

“The standards proposed are for minimum levels of provision (ie provision should not drop below this standard and is likely to be above, in the same way
that the minimum wage applies) and their application will take into account future population trends and growth areas across the city, with an estimated
population growth of around 53,800 between 2006 and 2026.”

and

“The standard guarantees adequate provision for users. There are other reasons for protecting open space, which the planning system embodies in a range of policies – such as those for nature conservation, archaeology, flood plain protection and the like. The quantity standard supplements, and
does not replace, these. As a result, in most areas more open space will be protected than the minimum standard identifies.”

Having said that, I do not propose to summarise this document for you any more. If you’re really that concerned about it, I suggest you visit http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=31326154 and read it for yourself.

18 09 2010
Art of the Possible

Darren, are you having a problem with your comments facility?

18 09 2010
Art of the Possible

Just that only seems to be accepting one-liners at the moment!

18 09 2010
turningbristolred

Sorry been away from PC

Um I don’t think I’ve clicked anything.

Do you know if this is a common problem or that maybe I’ve set some restriction accidentally?

Not v IT literate I’m afraid.

Sorry will ask someone I know who is more useful than me

19 09 2010
Art of the Possible

OK, try again. 4th time lucky?

Alex, this is the short version response. You really didn’t want to wade through the long version – written rather late at night and lost – so probably just as well, seeeing as it even involved middle class flight and New York’s declining tax base …

The reason there is a question mark is because, as I pointed out in a previous comment, which you may have ignored, is because “quality” is notoriously subjective (shades of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?)

Thinking back to my own childhood, and from observation over the years, and still even today in these consumer obsessed days, it is obvious that children often prefer wild, natural areas for exploring, playing, hiding out from adults, exercising their I.M.A.G.I.N.A.T.I.O.N. They need and enjoy this more than these artificial little places they are spoonfed with at great expense.

As for the race to the bottom issue, you can try and pretend all you like that you can somehow magic up open space in the middle of the overcrowded inner areas, but it is just not credible. The space really is not there.

20 09 2010
Alex Woodman

I don’t disagree that quality is subjective, and this is a problem which is acknowledged in the PGSS. As above:

“The Strategy sets out that “value represents a range of cultural and usage factors which are much harder to measure or change. Some dimensions of
value are captured in existing planning policy – protecting archaeology, wildlife, historic landscapes for example. Others are social and require public consultation to identify them. Assessing value is therefore difficult and time consuming.””

That’s why it’s important to consult, which is what’s happening at the moment.

As for play, I think the PGSS speaks for itself: “Traditionally children’s play in parks has been based on the provision of equipment in designated play spaces…Creating diversity and stimulating imaginative play are essential for our children to grow and learn.We plan to introduce more natural play opportunities within a safe environment, instead of an over-reliance on equipment. Children love climbing on rocks and tree stumps, playing in water and sand, and running around trees.”

As for new open space in central areas, I already agreed with you that it’s not easy to create. But it is not as impossible as you’re suggesting. Smaller parcels of land can be secured as part of new developments, or wholesale redevelopment of derelict sites can allow for larger amounts of new space to be created. The Bristol General Hospital site (which the Central planning committee will be looking at next Weds) is a good example of that. The PGSS is also about improving poor quality green spaces, of which there are plenty in the central area…

20 09 2010
Art of the Possible

Well we could go on and on, couldn’t we.

If only I had your faith in consultations. And let’s hope that your boundless optimism is borne out by the future reality.

Past history in Bristol does not augur well, however.

21 09 2010
Alex Woodman

‘Boundless optimism’ – I take that as a compliment! 🙂

22 09 2010
Art of the Possible

Spoken like a true Lib Dem.

What’s that they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

And while we’re here, your Gaz would do a great cover version of this video:

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