CHIS Newsletter September 2021

FROM THE CHAIRMAN Signs of a return to normal life are appearing for the first time for a year and a half the CHIS Committee and Planning Group have met in person. Well as we have coped in the Working from Home period (and urged by the subtle pressures from the Secretary, RoseMary Musgrave) nothing can beat a meeting rather than a “meeting”. Now that the Apostle Room is accepting bookings we can decide the forthcoming Talks Programme, details to be seen on a later page. IMPROVEMENT AND CONSERVATION. At its foundation CHIS carefully chose Improvement as against Conservation. Its stress is that Change would not be resisted so long as proposals lived up to the especially high architectural standards which we are lucky to live among. Where that was not the case informed opposition would be essential. The current egregious challenge lies in the Zoo’s plan for building on the West Car Park site at the top of College Road. More than 300 individual objections were lodged, after which a modified plan was presented. It pays lip service to the opposing arguments and it is vital for objections to be renewed. CHIS has urged members and others to do this. We were heartened to work with two groups of concerned residents and to have support from our councillors in opposing the development. It would be a benefit if we were able to awake national attention this threat to our heritage as well as what may be presented for the Zoo’s Gardens development.
The general ideas on offer for that site will be under close scrutiny by our Planning Group. The Zoo’s preliminary questionnaire is too much of a PR glossy measure, which is so often the case; it allows no meaningful consultation at all. The demolition of the former WH Smith/Clifton on Ice block and momentary removal of barriers opened up a view of the King’s Road terrace, which was a revelation to many delighted eyes. Few know that there was a replica of those buildings on the site until the early sixties. If only the opened-up view could be saved from the overmastering and dismal THAT GROUP building for which permission has been given. Some residents suggest that the site should be bought via communal funding and turned into a public small park. Will a philanthropist please turn up, to lead the way? PRINCESS VICTORIA STREET. Across the way the closure of access to Princess Victoria Street is in place for a six month period, after the usual kind of “consultation” and in the teeth of much highly concerned opposition. CHIS recognizes the worries of traders and shoppers. We will make a considered response in two month’s time, having wished the total trial to be one month. In the meantime we are working with others to discover what verification there has been for Bristol City Council’s claims about air pollution in the affected area. An allusion to the pedestrianization in Boyce’s Avenue was made in one document - not a fair comparison since it has never been a main thoroughfare for motor vehicles and its closure has not resulted in a major redirection of traffic as in the case of Princess Victoria Street. YELLOW LINES. It is worth recording that for a number of weeks there was unrelated but substantial build-up of parking on both sides of that section of Clifton Down Road by the Promenade. After road surfacing the yellow lines remained unpainted and cars were parked accordingly all day. What a surprise for the No 8 bus to turn left past the Zoo and go down College Road HORTICULTURAL. Another sign of normality was the Open Gardens Day in August. The single-day event was lucky with the weather and attendance, many visitors being young people. It is good to see that the ‘Green Squares and Secret Gardens’ weekend event, initiated by CHIS, is being carried on so successfully by an independent group. In Park Place the great copper beech is terminally diseased and will be alas felled. We are in discussion about an offer for a replacement but are unsure of the details. There is much dismay over the muddy morass at the Children’s playground by the Observatory and at the need for attention to the specially commissioned seat which CHIS commissioned but is the responsibility of Bristol City Council. Some people think that the site itself is not ideal. We have long helped residents by providing public seats, in gardens and or pavements, and are to arrange more. The bench outside the Clifton Library is now in a bad condition, so we will have it replaced, so too the CHIS Noticeboard. It is decrepit and a handsome new on will appear instead. TOURS. However well one knows the area I think the new CHIS Walking Tour App will offer new information. Do encourage friends, relations and visitors to download it. The voucher that comes with this Newsletter provides FREE access for every CHIS household. We hope you enjoy an interesting walk through our area and learn a great deal about places that we take for granted. At the height of the August heatwave Gordon Young (of Bristol Civic Society and a popular speaker at our talks) led three guided tours of some of the plaques in Clifton and Hotwells, mostly our green ones. The Lord Lieutenant, Peaches Golding, wished to join in one of them and CHIS Chairman and Deputy Chairman were asked to escort her – all the more appropriately in view of the fact that she herself has presided at the dedication of our plaques, to Sarah Guppy in Richmond Hill and at the sight of the original Clifton Club, at the present Library. The tour began outside Christchurch, whose extensively refurbished crypt is now in full order. We have sent the Society’s congratulations on the project, having been for a number of years in discussions about the church’s development plans. LITTER etc. The reduction of plastic bags in the streets is to be applauded but not so the new inflictions: discarded mouth masks and discarded scooters. They constitute a major degradation in this Conservation Area. BT Openreach have placed ugly mobile phone reception poles in Canynge Road and near the Observatory. In the first place residents have internet access via underground connection already, in second place such an obtrusion into a notable site is appalling. Absolutely no consultation is legally required. Even so, Linda Edwards is vigilantly challenging these blights. LACK OF ENFORCEMENT OF PLANNING CONDITIONS. All too often opportunistic landlords are creating HMOs [Houses of Multiple Occupation] without or even against Bristol City Council’s consent. Along with residents, we are pleading for enforcement of these decisions and can only resent the allowance of retrospective permission when developers have wantonly ignored the rules – all this with little success in many cases. Bristol University has stated that in response to the increase in the number of students to be accepted for the new academic year, residencies in Bath must be found for some! All the more strange to our way of thinking is that a quota of a maximum of the 10% Bath residential areas can be allowed for student accommodation.
To end on an appreciative note, we congratulate Bristol City Council Waste Disposal Department and its workers. They have been stalwart in the regular removal of rubbish during these trying last eighteen months. Brian Worthington