Bristol’s forgotten land?

Hengrove Park – South Bristol

A huge opportunity missed, 100 acres owned by the Council, left derelict for years. There are probably more development briefs, consultants reports and plans for Hengrove Park than any other site in the City. Yet still all we have is an initial development of low density “diners”, pubs and a cinema, with a play area added at a later date. And more recently, the Leisure Centre, South Bristol Hospital and a Skills Academy. All developed at different times by different developers with no design concept and no connection between them. What a waste?

Whilst all of these are indeed welcome facilities, the overall concept of a masterplan and any form of comprehensive development has been completely lost in translation. Grand ideas for a “new village” bringing much needed local shops, diversity of housing and quality development to the area never quite made it through the political process. Such a waste!

What Hengrove now needs is vision, innovation and delivery. George Ferguson, the Mayor of Bristol, needs to grab this one with both hands and make it one of his big projects – a sustainable development worthy of Bristol on council owned land, led by the Council, providing much needed quality affordable homes, local facilities and jobs. Be brave enough to get rid of the low density, low quality development on there at the moment, improve the linkages between existing facilities and deliver a coherent concept of a new community.

Why not, what are we waiting for?

14 thoughts on “Bristol’s forgotten land?

  1. There are more galling facts about Hengrove

    1. All the football pitches were cleared off to make way for development but no development has happened. At least the pitches should be reinstated, when there is such a shortage in the city

    2. Whilst doing nothing in Hengrove, the Council sold the neighbouring Filwood Park to developers to put housing on it. Why could this housing not go on the empty Hengrove Park, leaving Filwood as parkland ?


    • Harry – I think that is a good example of when plans are drawn up but nothing happens, thus stopping other things happening. Densities in South Bristol around Hengrove are generally so low that infilling can be a good thing, but needs to be done sensitively.


      • But, whilst politicans and local media are going apoplectic about the lack of sporting faciltiies in this city, why is no one screaming for the football ptiches to be reinstated ? It is because no business people will make money out of it ?

        It was a sin to remove the pitches when there were no proper redevelopment plans in place. Its a sin to keep selling more green spaces to developers, when they are not developing the spaces they have.

        Further, its not as if South Bristol does not have acres and acres of empty commercial space. Why can’t these be redeveloped as well ?


  2. Another good article. I love the open spaces in South Bristol, but in order for them to survive, we do need to develop areas like the old Airport. As you say, sensitively done, this could really enhance the area with the housing and jobs we so need, and include sports facilities. I’ve always been surprised at the waste of space on the Cinema site, it really does need redesigning, and the “Tumps” are a really good wildlife site. Consultation with local people is essential, but this is an opportunity that has waited too long to be realised.


    • Paul – yes, but there has been lots of consultation with local people, and the most vocal are those that back onto the old Airstrip/Hengrove and they don’t want any development at all and definitely not houses. The lack of political will to combat this is part of the problem. Others who live locally went to previous consultations to support the idea of development and got quite a hostile reception from a small minority, put them off commenting again. What we need is action not endless consultation.


  3. So you are happy that the Novers are to be built on, Hartcliffe Way green spaces to be built on, Airport Road green spaces to be built on, Fillwood park to be built on and you have got the nerve to expect Hengrove park to be built on.
    Go away, its odd that Asda Field managed ti escape and St Augustine`s park is having over £100,000 spent on it if you are on the wrong side of Bamfield road then anything green is a prospective building site.We need action, we need action to make sure Hengrove park remains a park and any development is in improving it as a park.


    • Sorry but Hengrove Park has never actually been a park, its an old airfield and has been designated brownfield land forever. It is a wasteland used by very few people. All the plans I have ever seen for the site do include much improved open space and parkland as part of the concept.


  4. anything then apart from a purpose built football/concert venue then ? Just more houses with no supporting facilities, exactly the sixties blueprint for the urban decay we’re now experiencing.


    • No absolutely not just anything but houses with jobs and local facilities. The idea of a football stadium was mooted 10 years ago or more but with a local referendum local people voted against the idea. I think any large facility that attracts large numbers of people, like a concert venue, is best placed close to the train station or where access is excellent by means other than the private car, so difficult to imagine at Hengrove?


  5. The problem is there was only one plan for regeneration in south Bristol – a football stadium and associated development on the greenbelt. Clearly nobody thought to have a plan b. Hence there’s no strategy, no plans, no investment and no money.


  6. I have never heard so much rubbish.
    Hengrove is a green open space near Fillwood as as such it is used by many people not a few as you claim, there are more people per day in Hengrove open space than visit nearby Fillwood park and Whitchurch Green and is also used by a rugby club.
    And where did the waste land come from you may wish it to be a waste land but it is not it is so much a waste land that it used by the rugby club and maintained in good condition by the council, it also has new seats and has tree planting, and a recut water course.
    The access to the Park from Whitchurch lane has also been cleared and is now a nice walk it just shows what can be done if people bother to clear up these places.
    Around the edge of the area, most certainly there are Brownfield sites but the centre is as it was in 1957 when the airport closed.
    The bits that are in poor condition are in that way because the council is to lazy to clear them up, and are quite happy to let them get worst then it easier for people like you to call it a waste land, but luckely you haven`t got a clue.
    Your idea that because in your odd opinion the open green space has magically become a Brown Field site i suppose that the Mounds being an old tip(Brownfield site) and now a reserve should also be obliterated under another estate.
    This removal of all things Brownfield i suppose will apply to Crox Bottom(old tip), the Novers(old tip),Manor Woods(old tip),part of Stockwood Green space(old tip), part of the Downs(old quarry) its a wonder we have Castle Green(bomb site) with people like you around.
    Ufortunatly you have no idea what land is what, and also what it can be used for, as for a much improved open space in Hengrove Park what you mean is a bit of a park stuck in the middle of your much to love future development.
    Whitchurch Green was just saved from the clutches of people like you, you wish to destroy any green space you can find when places like Fillwood broadway have been derilict for decades, they are far happier destroying Fillwood Park than getting their finger out and building on the real Brownfield sites in Fillwood and in the half empty business estates around Hengrove/Knowle and the old Hartcliffe school site.
    If you want to see a waste land pop into Hawkfield Meadow i presume because of its condition that also should be built on as it is far worse that Hengrove(park).
    And while you are at it tell the Ordinance Survey to remove the caption on their maps stating “Hengrove Park” naughty people they obviously havent consulted you.
    You see the the opinion of what is what depends are where you are coming from, to me Ashton Field is a field in the green belt between Bristol and Long Ashton to the council and i expect you it is another old tip, the land between Stockwood and Whitchurch to me is the green belt but to you it is just another building site.
    To me Hengrove is a Park that will be necessary when Fillwood Park is destroyed and has its “improved green space” in between the houses and the new not required Business Estate, how about developing Hengrove into a better improved large park, now that is a development idea,imagine all that green and trees enough to give you nightmares.



    • Bob – I guess we’ll have to agree to differ, you’re entitled to your opinion and I mine! On the brownfield issue, I was referring to the fact that Hengrove has been designated brownfield for decades, as it was an old airfield and therefore has been designated for development for decades in every plan the council has had. It has not magically become brownfield and has not just been defined as such by me, it always has been – I’m afraid that is fact not just my opinion. Clearly some local people disagree with that and that is one of the reason there has been such limited development of the site.

      In my view, this is a wasted opportunity to bring much need diversity of housing, jobs and facilities into an area where these are currently limited.

      Equally, I wouldn’t support building on every green space in South Bristol either and I do believe parts of Hengrove Park should remain green, just not all of it!


  7. This starting to sound corny. Brilliant again. You have a brilliant grasp of everthing you write about you have your finger on the pulse alright keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Any idea whats going to happen to the rugby club when you take our pitches away. The club has a huge mix of youth teams with over 100 kids playing evey sunday not to mention the 3 senior teams. This club has played on the old airport for over 30 years . We are getting tossed aside with no thought what so ever.So much for teaching kids respect, disaplin and team work.


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