Mayor pledges to halt park-ride threat to farm

January 29 2019

CAMPAIGNERS appear to have won their fight to save a community farm near Stapleton from being turned into a park and ride car park.

Sims Hill Shared Harvest’s home west of the M32, between the Metrobus junction and the Avon Ring Road, had been earmarked as the only viable option for the project in the West of England spatial plan, a blueprint for the area’s future development.

But after a plea for support from the community enterprise farm – where vegetables are grown for delivery to Bristol and South Gloucestershire residents – reached thousands of people, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees has promised it will not be bulldozed.

He said: “We’re not building on that land. That’s vital land.

“If we have a park and ride, it needs to be out by the M4. It doesn’t make sense to bring it so close in.

“Park and ride needs to service the city. We have the lion’s share of the influence over where it goes.

“We have no intention of putting it so close to the city.”

Bristol’s mayor was responding to a question from Green councillor Stephen Clarke who asked him to rule out “the extremely valuable agricultural land” at Sims Hill for a park and ride.

The spatial plan is a joint agreement between Bristol and neighbouring councils in South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset, so the park and ride scheme looks highly unlikely to go forward against opposition from the city’s Mayor.

Sims Hill Shared Harvest chair Corra Boushel thanked those who wrote in to object to the plan, telling supporters: “You made it happen.”

She added: “We are massively grateful for the incredible outpouring of support in a crisis – it has meant a huge amount and we think it will really pay off.”

Corra said MPs Kerry McCarthy and Darren Jones had added their support to that of the public, Bristol Food Network, Green city councillors and agricultural campaign group the Blue Finger Alliance.

She added: “At this stage of course we can’t be 100% sure – new plans have not yet been published so we can’t count our chickens (or leeks) just yet. However, we are confident that the actions everyone has taken has shifted the debate and influenced some of the politicians who will be making this decision.”

The next stage of consultations is expected in May.