Marshall Walk Proposals & Community Consultation

 I enjoyed attending the online consultation regarding Marshall Walk.  It was good to see a proposal for land that isn’t green space and has been left for several years. The plans shown were interesting I liked the thought of two high accommodations but not three levels high”

G (local resident)

Working for the Knowle West Alliance (KWA) my job is to help champion local voice and influence with a focus on upcoming/proposed developments for the area.  Part of this role is to talk with organisations or departments within the council to gain an understanding of what is proposed and to find ways to share that information with our community. KWA has developed a set of agreements around community liaison with Bristol City Council called the Knowle West Pre-Planning Protocol (PPP) with the purpose of promoting better communication, and earlier engagement (so that what the community says is heard, and can influence plans at the early stages).  We recognised, when KWA started two years ago, that often as residents and local organisations we have been the last to know about any planned development and find out at a point of no return as planning permission had already been granted.  We wanted to change this and the PPP is a useful tool that we can use to inform developers about how we expect them to work, the importance of talking and more importantly, listening before anything is set in stone. We want to ensure that by working together we can shape change.

The Pre Planning Protocol tells Council and developers that they should engage with us at the earliest stage possible when land is first being considered to be brought forward for development this enables us as a community to have the power to influence what will be built or delivered on the site.  We know from the Regeneration Framework of 2012 that many sites are identified for development already, and that the Council is passionate about addressing the housing crisis, that said, we can come together to ensure what we want and need now is taken into consideration.  We should speak about our needs now and for the future.  We have had a bit of a rocky start; its not easy to create new way of operating, but we can see some examples of the PPP now becoming embedded in the council’s way of working; with council officers coming to us at the KWA (alongside our partners at Knowle West Futures) for help and advice on engagement and consultation before plans are drawn up. 

A recent example I can give you is that of Marshall Walk at Inns Court. 

Inns Court is deemed a brown field site (somewhere buildings were before) the old shops were located here and it has been an empty (apart from the odd bit of fly tip and litter) plot for well over 10 years maybe even 15 years.   Bristol City Council approached KWA as they wanted to consider the land for housing; in particular housing which would get single people out of emergency accommodation or at risk of homelessness.

I came together with the team at Bristol City Council to find out more and ask about how they were going to engage with local people particularly because lockdown meant we couldn’t hold an open event.  Together we came up with a variety of ways to let people know what was going on and how to have their say I invited a local resident who lives very close to the site to come along and give his opinion and local insight.  We went through the proposed consultation online tool and I advised that it needed to be more accessible and relevant to local people.  They took this on board and changed it.  We shared this on the KWA Facebook page.

I also raised the issue that there is a considerable number of local people who cannot access online material for many reasons and the council had to make sure paper copies were available.  A decision was taken that 700 letters would go out to the nearest neighbours explaining the consultation and how to get involved and we agreed that the Inns Court Family Centre would hold 20 paper copies of the consultation. 

Finally, we also wanted local people to have a chance to speak face to face (virtually) with the council and the designers about the proposals so a zoom meeting was arranged for an early evening. Around 7 local residents attended and were able to ask questions, talk about their concerns and also tell the designers what they liked about the various schemes proposed.  They don’t legally have to do this, but by following the Pre Planning Protocol they doing things differently, making the time for engagement with local people, taking on views and voices in their plans before the next stage. We want all developers that want to work here to invest in this work, to make the time and take that extra care and consideration, because our community matters. Here are the comments of one of those who came along.

Phil, local resident “It was good to hear some of the background to the proposals, and the thought that had gone into the three options that were currently being proposed. The information was well presented by the Council, by the various officers involved, with the opportunity to ask questions and comment afterwards, either verbally or through the online chat.  It occurred to me, on looking at the site since, that it would be good if a way could be found of opening up the adjacent ‘green’ more in order to bring it more into the community, which I may include in my comments on the proposals.”

G, local resident “I enjoyed attending the online consultation regarding Marshall Walk.  It was good to see a proposal for land that isn’t green space and has been left for several years. The plans shown were interesting I liked the thought of two high accommodations but not 3 levels high” and “I would be interested to know more about the type of homes they will become and how much-disabled access they will have taking into account that wheelchairs and scooter are all different sizes, will shower rooms be able to accommodate a person in a wheelchair and all the other equipment needed?  I would like to see the quality over quantity when the final decision is made for how many homes will be made.  The issue regarding parking I don’t feel has been taken into account. To assume that someone will not have transport because they are in need of emergency housing is a little poor. The area has got a good size carpark but consideration will need to be thought of regarding neighbours, community and Antisocial behaviour.  I would be interested in what happens when someone gets accommodation, how much support will be offered to the person in the process to help move them onto permanent accommodation. Also what happens if a complaint needs to be made about the tenant what are the agreements going to be in place.  I would be interested to hear more about what comes next.”

As G has said she wants to know what comes next and this is the important part of the PPP it doesn’t stop here.  The council and designers will look at all the comments whether from the on-line consultation, paper submissions or through the zoom call, they will then firm up a design based on these comments and bring it back to the community for further comment and potential tweaking before submitting it for planning permission, this way they hope what they deliver in the community is a development the community are happy with and feel they have had a say on. 

Look out on our website and Facebook page about other sites which are coming up for development and get involved.  We are currently having conversations and discussions about Filwood Broadway and the Health Park two very important local areas for the community.

Emily Smith

Community Planning Facilitator