Brislington Greenway hangs in the balance

By Joe Nutt, Sep 13, 2021 2:09

A local developer is threatening to ‘walk away’ from a new active travel scheme for pedestrians and cyclists in South Bristol due to his “despicable treatment” at the hands of planning officers at Bristol City Council. 

John Grimshaw CBE, submitted a planning application to develop a new walking and cycling route along the former Brislington Railway Line at the start of the year and received an enormous amount of public support, including from the local councillors, Cllr. Jos Clark and Cllr. Andrew Varney. 

Cllr. Clark said, “We have been leading the campaign for an active travel corridor along this derelict site, known locally as the Brislington Greenway, for 5 years so we were delighted when John came forward with his proposals.”

Cllr. Varney added, “John is highly regarded in the active travel community. He founded the sustainable transport charity Sustrans in 1984 and was instrumental in establishing the National Cycle Network, so he clearly knows what he is doing when it comes to designing and building active travel routes.”

John Grimshaw has been responsible for many successful schemes across the region including the Bristol to Bath Railway Path, Ashton Court Greenway, the Brean Down Way, the Strawberry Line Extension, the Wye valley Greenway and many more. However, his active travel scheme for Brislington is being recommended for refusal by Bristol planning officers.

Mr. Grimshaw feels he is being blocked and is ready to walk away from the project. He said, “I fear that I just cannot go on trying to satisfy the planners' endless demands on the project. It is a minute little piece of work and one wholly for the public benefit but they are frustrating the project at every opportunity.”

I
n an email to the planning officer assigned to this application, he said, “As you have now written a total of 17 emails to me without once offering any positive comment or support, I suggest that it is now time to move on and I am putting the matter of our despicable treatment, and your complete disregard of the desperate imperative of reducing climate change, in the hands of our local members, who of course wish to see this modest scheme succeed.”

Cllr. Clark said, “We are exasperated and quite frankly appalled that John is encountering so much resistance for the scheme in Brislington. Cycling rates in this part of Bristol are lower than other parts of the city largely due to the lack of safe infrastructure. This scheme would create a safe and suitable active travel corridor for all ages and abilities.”

Cllr. Varney added, “Reading between the lines, it seems city bosses are worried the active travel corridor project will prove so popular with the public, it will impede their long term ambitions for this site, which is delivering the Callington Road Link.”

“Together with local residents, we are vehemently opposed to another road as it will simply lead to more car journeys, more congestion and more pollution. It will also destroy an important wildlife corridor that has become established in the area since the railways stopped operating in the 1960s.” 

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