Development proposals for new homes at Western Slopes in Knowle West have been scaled down by the Mayor of Bristol after a new ecology report found the site to have significant ecological value.
Mayor Marvin Rees requested a new ecological report after residents suggested there was important wildlife on the land at Novers Hill. Western Slopes had been allocated for housing development during the former administration in 2014 and Mayor Rees announced further consultation and a fresh look at the proposals.
As a result of the recent ecological report’s findings and detailed discussions with Avon Wildlife Trust, plans to build homes on Western Slopes have been significantly reduced to protect the important wildlife corridor and meadow and grassland habitats. The council have now allocated to Goram Homes a much smaller area of brownfield land for new homes on the previously developed site of the old school near Belstone Walk and part of the existing stables. This will enable new homes to be delivered in the area, while protecting the areas of the site with the highest ecological value. Goram Homes estimate that 70 much-needed homes can be delivered on this land.
The council will now look for other options for the additional homes in its development pipeline previously earmarked for the site. In line with its commitment to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies and to protect green spaces whilst also tackling the housing crisis, the council will explore brownfield locations elsewhere in the city to build new homes. This could involve increasing the density of current developments or identifying new sites to locate the much-needed new affordable housing.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “We need to tackle the housing crisis in Bristol, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our commitments to confronting the climate and ecological emergencies. It’s now clear that Western Slopes is a hugely important wildlife corridor and ecologically significant site. We are committed to tackling the ecological emergency head on so it’s only right that we pause the proposals for development of council land on Western Slopes.
“Cities are complicated with competing demands and where we locate new homes and how they are built is a nuanced debate. Bristol has limited space, and, if we want to protect green spaces, this means building more densely in brownfield locations, close to sustainable travel, jobs, and public spaces. We now need to find other, more suitable sites for these desperately needed new homes, and to make sure we meet the current and future needs of Bristol’s citizens as we do.”
Ian Barrett, Avon Wildlife Trust CEO, said: “This is fantastic news. It is more important than ever that we preserve important wildlife corridors and protect areas of ecological significance. The Western Slopes play a key role in Bristol’s nature networks and I am delighted that we have found a way to protect them. I look forward to working with Goram Homes, Bristol City Council and local residents to see how we can further enhance these habitats and bring more wildlife back to the city.”