The Bristol Local Plan sets out a framework for how Bristol will develop over the next 20 years. Its main focus is around delivering intrastructure such as homes & transport, but it also aims to safeguard the things we value as environmental assets.

Until 24 May, The Local Plan is available for its second round of public consultation. Instructions for how you can take part are at: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/planning-and-building-regulations/local-plan-review

You might like to comment on the following:

Bristol Food Network welcomes the special protection which has been proposed for Stapleton Allotments and Holdings:
Bristol Local Plan Review: Draft Policies and Development Allocations p.95 & 96

Draft Policy GI4: Stapleton Allotments and Holdings – Food Growing Local Green Space

10.17 Stapleton allotments and holdings are recognised as having amongst the best and most versatile agricultural land in the city. Feed Bristol, the Avon Wildlife Trust’s community food growing project is located here. The soil is regarded as being of the highest quality and forms part of a scarce resource of such land at the national level. National planning policy steers development away from high quality land and towards poorer quality land.

Policy Text: The Stapleton allotments and holdings are designated as Local Green Space in recognition of its special importance for food growing and community use and will be retained as open space. Development proposals which are inconsistent with this role will not be permitted. Ancillary developments which directly support the food growing role of the land will be acceptable where they are consistent with other policies.
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If you are going to comment on the Local Plan, it’s good to show support for the Council’s efforts to protect our best agricultural land. This is a significant step forward from the old Local Plan, where the Stapleton Allotments and Holdings’ land was set aside as a potential Park & Ride site linking to the Metrobus service. However, Bristol Food Network will be pressing for protection for the whole of the Stapleton Allotments and Holdings site, not just the part of the site to the south of the M32.

Looking at the map in the Local Plan on p.96, the northern half of the Stapleton Allotments and Holdings is bounded by Stoke Lane at the left, the M32 at the south, and the Bristol/South Gloucestershire border at its north. This is all Bristol City Council-owned land, within Bristol. (This butts-up to the Sims Hill Shared Harvest site at the north-east, which is over the border in South Gloucestershire.)

Bristol Food Network suggest the following submission to the Local Plan consultation:

We welcome the new Draft Policy G14 which seeks to preserve Stapleton Allotments and Holdings for food growing only, and which recognises and protects the high quality of the soil at this site. However, we call on the Council to extend the same protection to the whole of the Stapleton Allotments and Holdings – not just the currently-designated area to the south of the M32. Our reasons for this are:

  • For the first round of consultation on the Local Plan, the Draft Policy was described as protecting ‘Stapleton Allotments and Holdings’. A map was not made available during the first round of consultation and those responding to the consultation could not have known that when the text referred to ‘Stapleton Allotments and Holdings’, the Council was only referring to half the site. If this had been made clear, then objections would have been raised at the first stage of consultation
  • The arguments around quality of soil apply equally to the land both north and south of the M32 within the ‘Blue Finger’. If we are protecting the area to the south of the M32 because of its ‘best and most versatile soil’, then we should also be protecting the area to the north.
  • Historically, the north and south sections of the Stapleton Allotments and Holdings were part of one parcel of land which was in itself part of Bristol’s market gardening area. It was the M32 which split the site. There are tenancy agreements and smallholding plots which extend across the M32, and administratively, Bristol City Council describes the whole area – both north and south of the M32 – as one parcel of land.
  • The fields to the north of the M32 are currently under pasture. However, the protection we are seeking is not based on current cultivation, but on the quality of the soil and on the potential for this land to become part of a revived market gardening area in the city – as Sims Hill Shared Harvest have achieved on the adjoining field.