Estella Tincknell writes
Published on: 07 Dec 2017
Looking ahead – in every sense
When I walk on Purdown I am always struck by the amazing panorama of Bristol and the surrounding countryside that is presented from its heights. On a clear day you can see – literally – for miles and miles, from the spire of Stapleton Church in the middle distance to the M32 slicing through the outskirts of the city. Lockleaze is an extremely diverse and varied ward geographically, and it is the route along Purdown (and Stoke Park) which defines a significant part of it, from the traditional semi-detached houses surrounding Muller Road, where Purdown starts, to the Vench and Romney House at the top of Stoke Park, where the borders of Lockleaze – and Bristol - used to be and open countryside could be seen. But the view north of the border has changed radically in the last few years. Since I became a councillor for Lockleaze in 2013 hundreds of new homes have been built on the northern edge of Bristol in South Gloucestershire, and these are now changing not just the views, but the way we need to work in the future.
Importantly, some of these new developments are not only in South Gloucestershire – they are in Bristol. A third of the homes in the Cheswick Village development that leads off of Romney Avenue and abuts the cycle path are in Lockleaze ward. Representing those residents on the city council is just as important as ensuring we support people living in more established and older parts of the ward. Cheswick Village was still being built when I was initially elected, and some of the utilities such as broadband services took a long time to be completed, leading to frustration on the part of those who had moved in. Trying to resolve that problem meant working with colleagues from South Gloucestershire council. More recently, we have seen the 72 bus stop outside the Vench, which had started to assume legendary status as the bus stop to nowhere, finally coming into use with the opening of the route through to UWE. Again, it has been a long battle, but we managed to get the two councils working together. Current concerns amongst Cheswick residents have focused on the issue of parking – something that is never easy to resolve and made more difficult by having two councils with different approaches involved. What we want to avoid is moving the problem around from one local authority to the other without using joined-up thinking for a joined-up problem. If a problem crosses the invisible borders between Bristol and South Gloucestershire we have to find ways to make sure the solution does too.
Now, with 800 new homes being planned for Lockleaze and sites being prepared for development we need to think about how we can work with our neighbours more systematically and effectively. New housing will have an impact on transport and demands for services as well as on the physical environment. Cross-border working between Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils has to be the way forward if we are to avoid the problems of the past. Fortunately, the establishment of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the elected Metro Mayor for the region presents a way to do this. Bristol’s cabinet members for Transport and what is called Spatial Planning (concerned with housing and transport networks across the region) also sit on the WECA board and should have a powerful voice in decision-making for the area as a whole.
Lockleaze is changing – and making sure this is in a way that benefits the whole community will be vital over the next decade. So, as Christmas approaches I am looking ahead, not just to 2018, but to the longer term future and the opportunities and challenges we will face. 2017 has been a difficult year but there are still positive changes taking place.
In that spirit, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Good Wishes for the New Year.