Stoke Park path approved despite protests

March 29 2021
Stoke Park path approved despite protests

CAMPAIGNERS have failed in a bid to stop Bristol City Council changing the surface of a controversial new path in Stoke Park.

The mile-long shared route for pedestrians and cyclists, at the north-western edge of the park next to the M32, was granted planning permission in 2019, despite 50 objections and a 480-name petition urging councillors to reject it.

After input from conservation body Historic England, planners decided that the path, running from Sir Johns Lane in Lockleaze to Jellicoe Avenue on the Stoke Park housing estate, should have a gravel surface.

But a council development control committee was told that gravel had been found to be unsuitable for steep sections.

So the council, which owns the parkland, applied to change it to asphalt and quartzite stone – prompting a further 93 objections from the public.

Committee members unanimously voted in favour of the change at the end of February, after hearing that Historic England supported it.

Officers also told them that the " public benefits would outweigh the harm" to the designated heritage asset and site of nature conservation interest, which is in a conservation area.

Lockleaze ward councillor Gill Kirk said the path, following a historic carriageway, was badly needed because much of the park was inaccessible to wheelchair users and buggies, due to long-running problems with mud.

She said: “In Stoke Park where we don’t have proper paths this has resulted in a great churning up of mud and damage to the fields to the point that the parks vehicles have been unable to access the park this winter to do essential maintenance to the gates, entrances and infrastructure.

If this continues, the grassland will deteriorate and damage the ecology of the estate."

Friends of Stoke Park member Stephen Bartle said that laying more than 5,000square metres of modern asphalt in “pristine and sensitive parkland” was unacceptable.

A planning officer told the remote meeting that the bound gravel "likely would have degraded very quickly over time, with use and weather, resulting in potholes" and the asphalt mix was "the most appropriate replacement”, although it was "not ideal".

He said objections from the Conservation Advisory Panel and Avon Gardens Trust were based on an incorrect belief that the path’s route would also be changing.

While the "will result in a greater degree of harm to the parkland", it would improve access, with the path being wide enough for cyclists, who would be able to go faster on it than on gravel, having enough space to avoid pedestrians.

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service