Residents complain of “lack of consultation” on Harry Stoke housing developments

Public meeting called to discuss proposed housing development in Harry Stoke.

Concerned local residents who attended a public meeting called to discuss proposed new housing developments on green belt land to the east of Harry Stoke claimed they haven’t been properly consulted on the plans that could see 3,200 new homes constructed by 2027.

Today’s meeting in Little Stoke Community Hall, organised by the Hambrook Lane Action Group, was attended by around 60 residents and local Councillors, following publicity in the Bristol Post yesterday and on Radio Bristol this morning. Also at the meeting were two officers from South Gloucestershire Council (SGC): Patrick Conroy (Strategic Planning) and Donna Whinham (Major Sites Team Manager).

The meeting was chaired by former Stoke Gifford Parish Councillor David Bradshaw, who presented a list of pre-prepared questions to the SGC officers.

SGC’s Core Strategy, a long-term planning blueprint document for the period 2012-2027, allows for the construction of 2,000 new homes in an area referred to as the ‘East of Harry Stoke New Neighbourhood’. The homes are in addition to the 1,200 dwellings that already have outline planning permission on a site owned by Crest Nicholson east of Harry Stoke Road.

Mr Conroy explained to the meeting that the independent inspector appointed by the Government to examine the soundness of the Council’s Core Strategy had insisted that 28,535 new homes be constructed across the district over the plan’s 15-year timeframe. Taking already committed sites out of the equation leaves the Council needing to find sites for 23,365 new homes, and the plan is for 57% of those to be constructed within the North Fringe of Bristol.

Mr Conroy said the Council had chosen the North Fringe as the preferred location for the bulk of its new housing provision because of its centres of employment, services and transport infrastructure. These features made it the most suitable location for “sustainable” strategic development.

The Council has resisted pressure to allow development in more rural areas such as Coalpit Heath, Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne because it would not be sustainable in those “village” locations, he added.

A public exhibition on the draft Development Framework Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for the East of Harry Stoke New Neighbourhood, staged recently at the Old School Rooms in Stoke Gifford, was so poorly advertised that it was visited by just eight people, according to one resident at today’s meeting. Mr Conroy, however, insisted that the Council’s own newsletter, delivered to all homes in the district, had properly publicised the event.

The exhibition, and others staged in Bradley Stoke, Patchway and Southmead, formed part of the formal public consultation on the draft SPD, which runs until Friday 1st February (the closing date having been extended from its original date of 11th January).

East of Harry Stoke New Neighbourhood Framework Diagram (November 2012).

Click image to view full size as a PDF document [1.6Mb] hosted on the SGC website.

Features of note mentioned within the SPD include the provision of one or two primary schools, a nursery complex, a youth centre, a health centre, a community centre, a care home, a police post, recreational space, sports facilities, play facilities and allotments.

Many people at today’s meeting questioned the impact the new development would have on the already congested roads in the area but the Council officers claimed that improvements in roads, walking & cycling routes and public transport would more than offset this. Transport modelling has shown that completion of the Stoke Gifford By-Pass, which will be partly financed by the developers, will lead to a “substantial reduction in traffic on parallel routes”, they added.

Other concerns raised include the continued use of Hambrook Lane as a ‘rat run’, which Ms Whinham suggested could be countered by diverting the road through a new local centre that is to be built within the development, thereby making the route “less attractive” to commuters.

Another major point of concern was the risk of flooding, both for the new homes that will be built and for existing properties in Harry Stoke, which might be affected by increased ‘run off’. Several residents claimed that the area on which the new homes are to be built is a flood plain but Mr Conroy stated that the “vast majority” of the land is classified as ‘zone 1’ (outside of flooding risk) by the Environment Agency.

Mr Bradshaw claimed that the presence of high-voltage powerlines on the site made it unsuitable for housing but Mr Conroy explained that the current plan is for the lines to be routed underground.

Full minutes of today’s meeting were taken by the Clerk of Stoke Gifford Parish Council and will be published on the Parish Council’s website in due course.

Photo (L-R): Meeting panelists: David Bradshaw (Chairman), Patrick Conroy and Donna Whinham (both of South Gloucestershire Council).

Anyone interested in joining the Hambrook Lane Action Group should email Dr Nicola Hembry at

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