As I have stated in my post following the Bristol Mayoral hustings, Bristol needs more homes. Currently, we are only building 4,000 homes a year in the West of England, 3,500 short of the estimated annual quantity our research team identified is needed in the West of England in order to build enough homes.
It is a common myth, in Bristol particularly, that there is not enough land to build on. However, Hengrove Park in the south of Bristol, where I have visited today, proves to be a great example of land being used as a political football. Hengrove had planning permission 10 years ago, which has subsequently lapsed and has since then been used as an example by all three parties as a tool to criticise each other. This political blame tactic has resulted in one thing, a fantastic site not realising its potential, due to an unwillingness of officers to lead on the project.
This site not only has an allocated 1,000 homes yet to be realised, but is also already home to some fantastic amenities on site: a new skills academy, hospital and leisure centre are all in the process of being built, providing the area with a fantastic array of community facilities. Yet this community doesn’t have any new homes! As well as providing a real solution to the city’s housing crisis, it would also regenerate a historically deprived area bringing much-needed employment, economic and social opportunities.
With the introduction of the Metrobus, and a devolution deal currently on the table that would help fund the transport and infrastructure across all four unitary authorities, now has to be the opportune moment to identify, plan and invest across the region and realise such sites as Hengrove. It’s simple, if we work together now, we could help solve the region's housing crisis.
Simon appeared on BBC Radio Bristol this morning. Click here to listen to the feature from 50 mins onwards.
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