Response to Planning Application for 50/52/54 Stoke Lane



Westbury Hill

Bristol BS9 3AG

October 12th 2021


Reference: Application No 21/04801/F


Proposal to demolish 3no bungalows at 50,52,54 Stoke Lane, Westbury on Trym BS9 3DN and to replace them with 4no pairs of semi-detached town houses in one block.

For the attention of Mr Tom Wilkinson - planning Officer for this application


Dear Mr Wilkinson


This application is not simply a Demolition of some older properties in favour of installing some more modern equivalents, it is a wholesale Destruction of a familiar part of the much loved Westbury landscape and a proposed removal of some of its centuries long social history.


It must be clear to planning officers by now that the oldest square mile of Westbury, radiating as it does from the original settlement by Saxon monks on the banks of the Trym in the 8th century, now occupied by the 15th century Church and remains of its College for canons, contains a century by century development plan. The number of architectural styles in this small area is remarkable and they can tell a social and political history of rich and poor in themselves.


The well expressed oppositions to the proposal from over thirty neighbouring residents, for many reasons, are not the only reactions to this plan. Many local people who have not written down their concerns are horrified by this proposal to change the ‘face’ of Westbury at the edge of its heartland.


These three bungalows represent an era:- with that very popular domestic design of the 1920s, borrowed from India, when garden design too was at its height  - one when tennis courts and tea gardens were familiar parts of the Westbury social scene too, as a ‘middling sort’ emerged from the artisanal population, looking to find a more leisured lifestyle in an area still surrounded by fields, that only disappeared after world war two. There are no other bungalows in the old village area to contribute to the architectural history of Westbury and so should be cherished for that reason alone, apart from their function within a mix of housing to accommodate all ages and stages of living. Core Strategy proposals are thus very pertinent:


Ref: 1 BCS 18: “All new residential developments should maintain, provide or contribute to a mix of housing tenures, types and sizes, to help support mixed, balanced and inclusive communities”.


Ref: 2 BCS 20: “Appropriate density for any individual site will be informed by -   ‘characteristics of the site and its local context, ….plus the need to provide an appropriate mix of housing to meet the community’s needs and demands’


AND 4.20.6 Development will be sympathetic to local character and provide high quality living environments….’


Ref 3: BCS 22 ‘’Development proposals will safeguard or embrace heritage assets and the character and setting of areas of acknowledged importance including conservation areas’

The sites in question for this application stand at the border of the recently revised Westbury conservation area which extends to include Southfield Road which adjoins Stoke Lane and covers the whole extent of Westbury village itself at the opposite end of Stoke Lane. They can be viewed therefore as part of the conservation area setting and local heritage and should be seriously considered in this context before any redevelopment is permitted.


The Impact that loss of these three extensive and well cultivated gardens and replacement by eight houses with small 7msq plots will have in this part of Westbury, if these three sites are redeveloped intensively as proposed in this application:

a-Loss of trees, hedges and extensive green planting that improve air quality, shelter pollinating insects -especially much needed bees- and provide visual amenity for relaxation and mental well being (all the TV gardening programmes now emphasize the need for activity out of doors, the benefits to body and soul and relief of stress – of even minimal gardening -as any regular gardener would concur)

b-Loss of a mitigating element to overheating in the environment – (Westbury village lies in a bowl at the foot of several hills and on hot summer days the heat can be overwhelming and may well increase quite soon with climate change)

c-Loss of a massive contribution to air quality from existing green infrastructure. (Air pollution from the A4018, at the far end of this proposed block of housing, is bound to increase as this main route into Bristol becomes even more heavily trafficked, when the 7-8000 houses are finished at the South Gloucestershire border north of Henbury)

d-Loss of green space for vegetable production – at a time when everyone is being urged to grow their own wherever possible

e-An overall degradation of the local landscape by over development of these sites

f- Eight, minute gardens in mitigation, not fit for purpose for family use, in terms of adequate recreation areas for children and relaxation for adults in private surroundings, or for space to plant new trees without creating masses of shade and dry ground in each small plot


The following Bristol Core Strategy policies are therefore not supported in this proposed destruction of green infra-structure:


a-BCS 8 -section on green infrastructure lists the many types of green infrastructure sites that can contribute positively to the quality of Bristol’s townscapes and landscapes and includes Gardens -all of which will protect biodiversity, improve mental health and give space for local food production

   BCS 9 – 4.9.5 advises similarly “the strategic green infra structure network is complemented by further elements of GI such as less strategic open space…..private gardens…trees, woodlands and landscaped areas. These elements of green infrastructure have an equally important role in contributing to the sustainability and quality of life within the city and are of particular benefit to communities”

POLICY DELIVERY: “The impact of new development on green assets will be assessed as part of the Development Management Process”

  BCS 20 – also commits to a due scrutiny of the loss of existing green infrastructure and its local context when higher densities of development and more efficient use of land are under consideration


b-BCS 13 – “Development should adapt to climate change through measures including: site layouts, design and construction which provide resilience to climate change and the use of green infrastructure to minimize and mitigate the heating of the urban environment”

  It is appropriate to note here that in the last week there have been reports to government that there is less carbon emission from retention and refurbishment of existing buildings than is produced by demolitions of buildings for re developments


c-BCS 13 – “Green infrastructure can include small scale features such as trees…green roofs…landscaping planned as an integral part of site layouts and building designs….”

There is no evidence in the Design document of this application that any effort has been made to observe these conditions/suggestions during the redevelopment plans

   BCS 23 – “Developments should be sited and designed in a way as to avoid adversely impacting on environmental amenity and biodiversity by reason of fumes dust ….and air pollution…”


d- DM 15 includes the importance of growing food locally as part of natural ecology

Finally: DM 21 on the redevelopment of private gardens for housing purposes generally, states that in all cases, it will not be permitted if the result is ‘harm to the character and appearance of an area’ and that “development of front gardens should ensure that the character of the street is not harmed and that appropriate boundary treatments and planting are retained.”

It is very difficult to understand how the present application can meet these conditions, given that the whole landscape aspect and character of Stoke Lane will be irreparably harmed by the plans and there appear to be no front gardens at all except for entry points and parking spaces!

The Inappropriate Design of these Houses for the Local Context

While presenting an interesting and innovative design for contemporary housing, it is totally inappropriate for this setting. Its appearance resembles a set of buildings from the Industrial Revolution and would not be out of place in a northern city where it would embody a nod in the direction of former industrial sites and pay respects to the remains of historic 19th century industries! In this context it is stark, bare and jars with every other style of local domestic architecture in this neighbourhood.

The design presents a huge overdevelopment of the site with masses of alien brickwork dominating what is at present a gentle and discreet domestic area with housing nestling between varied forms of greenery and which enhances that corner of Stoke Lane and Falcondale Road at a very busy junction and provides good site lines for turning traffic.


Policy References: BCS 20 emphasizes the need to achieve appropriate densities of development according to context and BCS 21 states that new developments should deliver high quality design and “contribute positively to an area’s character and identity, creating and re-enforcing local distinctiveness”.

Policy DM 27: ‘Layout and Form’ states: “the height, scale and massing of development should be appropriate to the immediate context, site constraints and character of adjoining streets and spaces”.

Policy DM 26: ‘Local Character’ proposals should: ii) “respect the local pattern and grain of development including the historical development of the area”; vi) “respond to the height, scale, massing, shape, form and proportion of existing buildings”; vii) “Reflect locally characteristic architectural styles, rhythms, patterns, features” and viii) “Reflect the predominant materials, colours and textures” in the area.

In the design section of this application the height and massing of the buildings, reverse direction of the roof lines, archway entry points and brickwork relief decorations, are all quite original; but in no way do they enhance or even complement the existing architectural styles in Stoke Lane that give individuality to each section, with stone flashings and mullions to Victorian brickwork and pebble dashed or rendered walls, bay windows, decorative porches and different doorways to the early 20th century designs. This design concept is thus totally alien to the character of this neighbourhhood and therefore should be refused.


The current Parking problems for Westbury Village and the impact of this proposal on existing residents’ normal life.

It surely cannot have escaped the notice of many planning officers dealing with applications for redevelopments in this area, that repeatedly residents raise the problems of CAR PARKING DENSITIES. These have become progressively worse and worse in recent years, not helped by the introduction of RPZ in Cotham, Redland and Clifton, which has had the effect of pushing city commuter parking further and further out of the city- to where? To Westbury at present and we have now reached saturation point in the area described below.

If your home is part of a terrace or early housing development, especially in Stoke Lane, Canford Lane, Southfield Road, Cambridge Crescent, Lampeter Road, the High Street, College Road, Church Road, Priory Avenue, Eastfield and on Westbury Hill and Road, you may have to drive round in circles for ages to find a parking spot for your own vehicle and finally put it some long way from your home. In addition to having become the northern ‘Park and Ride’ for Bristol City, we also have many incoming commuters who work in offices and retail locally. The increase in numbers of pupils at Redmaid’s High School and the St Ursula E act Academy has also added teachers to the daytime parking congestion.

Furthermore, not only does Westbury have many properties, by reason of historical development, that lack garages or frontages suited to parking, it also has narrow streets that once were lanes for horses and carts! At the Westbury village end Stoke Lane was built up at the end of the 19th century and early 20th, when car traffic did not exist except for the very prosperous and so no allowance was made for passing traffic, while further afield, many larger houses have been made into flats-so increasing on street vehicle ownership.

These properties, designed with four bedrooms for family occupation in this now highly priced area and attracting incomers from London who can afford the cost, will be occupied by middle and higher income earners who are bound to own two cars for two working parents, but there is only one space per household allowed.

In the past planners’ advice was to discount parking problems as valid objections to redevelopments. However, this has now changed, favouring an ‘allowance’ of 1.5 spaces for a four bedroomed development. Where is the 0.5 for each of the 8 dwellings to come from in this plan? On the road outside of course, but that is already fully occupied all day and evening by other residents and commuters! Also, at the far end of the road before the traffic light junction, there are parking restrictions for safety, so removing some of the space shown in the plan. The existing three domiciles have garages and adequate space for more than one vehicle within their boundaries and so do not contribute to the congestion at that busy end of Stoke Lane.


Conclusion: After due consideration we hope that this application will be refused in all aspects.                                                                  Hilary Long pp The Westbury Society