A Horror Story in Three Parts.
In the most recent Newsletter I wrote about the Year of the Three Prime Ministers and that of the Three CHIS Treasurers.
Another threesome looms. It is the likely imposition on Clion [Betjeman’s ‘handsomest suburb in Europe’] of The Three Carbuncles.
From the start CHIS, with vigorous support from residents and others, has fought these crass proposals (too oen without the aid of some prominent local and national associations) only to be over-ruled by one of two BCC Development Committees. We won our first application for judicial review of the West Car Park plan. A second application had to be made when the developers submitted a minimally altered version. Alas, the judge refused permission, to the surprise of our experienced legal advisers.
Our protests against the mammoth aesthetic blot proposed by the Zoo Trustees stimulated widespread support and action in Bristol, with some acknowledgment nationally. None of this deterred a majority of councillors on the said Development Committee from approving the proposal at a meeting when nearly a score of passionate objectors (with hardly a supporter) were ignored.
WHY WAS THE MOST SENSITIVE OF SITES, THE ZOO GARDENS, NOT PROTECTED IN THE SAME WAY?
The further resort of CHIS is to have submitted a request that the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, call in the appeal, quoting his own assertions that the aesthetic quality of a design in an area of notable beauty cannot be cast aside on the grounds of housing need, which we believe is the premise admitted by BCC Planners.
The response is at the moment awaited.
We have spent generously in recent years on improvements and enhancements of many kinds: railings, trees, seats, explanation boards, plaques, lamp-posts, relaying the Lookout, the Sarah Guppy memorial stone and more.
A handsome new CHIS Noticeboard is in place outside Clifton Library, close to the recently presented seat. We commissioned a local signwriter, James Cooper of Dapper Signs, to paint our name on the headboard, a job which he has performed admirably.
Two years ago at Christmas there opened up a wide hole in Canynge Square Garden causing trees to sink into what most likely is the collapsed cellar of a house which was never completed. The garden belongs to BCC and is open to the public, but for decades the residents have funded maintenance. After protracted surveys and negotiations it has been agreed that the cost of the infill will be split 50-50 between the Council and the Residents Association, at c. £50,000 each. The Committee has agreed to give £1,000 to the Residents’ Association to restore vehicle access to the north side of the Square once the road is safe again.
We believe our current membership fee of £8 is a bargain; many members generously pay more. Even so, the Committee has reluctantly accepted that soon the fee will need to be increased. Details will be made available in the near future.
Continuing action by Committee members includes matters such as:
Detailed response to all planning proposals of significance, oen supporting residents.
The proper replacement of lamp-posts e.g. those at White Hart Steps.
The handsomely refurbished Lookout site.
The Observatory Children’s Playground (see article on later page) and the condition of paths and edgings on the way to the Bridge and Observatory.
Plaques and Commemorations.
The programme of talks and visits.
The Coronation: Stephen Grey-Harris mounted a Coronation Exhibition in his shop in Princess Victoria Street to mark this momentous occasion. The handsome window display was balanced by a range of mementoes and fascinating Coronation objets d’art within. Union Jack pennants, flags and bunting brightened up many streets, shops and house fronts.
Nature: The colourful early Spring flowers and bulbs, especially on Christchurch Green, was a prelude to a magnificent display of wisteria and more, in dozens of gardens, as well as a dazzling array of vivid green from the leaves of many kinds of tree that abound in the area. However, there are two sides to this vegetable coin. Inevitably too many thoughtless owners neglect overhanging trees and bushes, which proliferate over pavements. This impedes pedestrians and particularly those who are infirm or disabled. In the case of roses and brambles the risk of damage to the eyes of a passer-by is shocking. Oh, for the days when BCC issued such owners a requirement to cut back growths to the boundary of the garden – otherwise the Council would do so and submit a bill for the costs.
A highlight of CHIS talks has been the lectures by Professor Ronald Hutton, of Bristol University and now also of Gresham College as well as a distinguished author. We are privileged to have hosted his sophisticated addresses and join in the many congratulations made on his 70th birthday.