Elm Park statement to South Glos Council meeting on 18th November 2017

Submission to South Gloucestershire Council from Roger Hutchinson on Elm Park, Filton – 8th January 2017

I am making this submission as I have found it necessary to declare an interest in the agenda item/s as I am secretary of the Filton Pétanque Club which rents the boule playing area from Filton Town Council which lies within the area which is being designated for possible road widening.

I do however which to submit some comments on the effect of designating 15 meters of Elm Park for possible highways purposes, which if taken would have serious consequences for sport and leisure activities including the Community Garden, Boule area, Cycle Speedway Track and the BMX/Skateboard Park.

Other people are speaking on various issues, so I will restorect my comments to he Boule area, Cycle Speedway Track and the BMX/Skateboard Park.

The Boule area is an enclosed space immediately adjacent to the recently planted orchard area of the Community Garden. The court is rented from the Town Council by the Pétanque Club, but when not being used by the club is open to the community to use for free.

The playing area is 15m x 12m, there is a picnic area alongside the court, the northern end of which is about 15m from the A4174. Between the piste and the road there is the outer perimeter hedge which runs the full length of the field to the east. There is then an open area of about 8m in which are 2 rows of trees. and finally there is a hedge made up mainly of shrubs which surrounds the court on 3 sides and itself has a number of trees particularly Oak and Chestnut. The presence of all of this shrubbery serves to give protection to players and those using the picnic area from the fumes emanating from the road. All of this would be gone should a widening scheme be carried out and boule players would be immediately next to the road.

The court is sufficiently large as to be used for both local and regional competitions throughout the year, summer and winter and is one of the few in the region to be able to accommodate the numbers. Additionally as well as the club having teams in local leagues it also works with charities such as Headway and the British Legion veterans to give their members the opportunity to excise and enjoy the sport. So it would be a loss to more than just the Filton Community.

The cycle speedway track was opened about 10 years ago and had a very active team riding in the national league and it was recognised as a first class track by British Cycling at the time who have held their National Semi Finals there as well as staging international matches against England and Poland and England and Wales. Whilst there isn’t a club at the moment, the track is kept in good condition and is currently an asset for parents who use it for cycling training with their children. On the centre green the Town Council have installed an outdoor gym which is also well used.

At the eastern end of the park and probably closer to the road than any other facility apart from the garden is the BMX/Skateboard Park This was installed by the Town Council also about 10 years ago, all 3 of these facilities using S106 payments. When the park was built it was of an American Design and the first bowl to be built in this area and one of the first in the country. The building was overseen by members of the American Company that created the design. At the time we wanted a first class facility for people who had campaigned for a long time for the facility, or more for the children of those people given how long it took to find the funding. It was the best for a long way around and I believe that it still is.

So 3 first class sporting facilities being put at risk as well as an award winning garden.

It was stated at Cabinet on Monday that if the land were to be needed then these facilities could me moved elsewhere in Elm Park and this I would challenge. The part of the park that is being protected may look large but much of it is used for other activities both organised sport and casual play and I find it difficult to understand where it would be moved to, particularly the garden which is where it is because it is visible, accessible and attached to the ground that it occupies

It was also suggested at Cabinet that the possible road widening might be needed should a new housing development be created in the vicinity. I would love to know where as virtually the only open space left in Filton in the surrounding areas is Elm Park and thankfully the council is protecting that as green space. So the other possibility is to relieve congestion, possibly with a bus lane, but i fail to see the wisdom of that, even though I am committed to improving public transport, there has to be a big question mark on where buses might run to and from using a bus lane on that part of the ring road, unless the lane went down beyond Filton Avenue it would seem to be a bus lane to nowhere.

So in my opinion the designation of the 15m poses a threat to currently well used facilities that might be considered to be able to be enhanced in the future are going to be blighted by the threat. It isn’t really feasible to suggest that they could be moved to another part of the field and it is highly debatable whether a widening for a bus lane, without taking the service road of the houses on the park side of Station Road down to the railway bridge which itself would then constitute a barrier anyway.

This designation seems to me to be a bad move that makes no sense in traffic and transport terms and causes serious concerns for the future of the park to residents who enjoy the facilities that are down the north side of the field and which are being put under threat.

Roger Hutchinson


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