MetroBus Local Impact on Stapleton Allotments and Smallholdings
What is planned?
Development of M32 over-bridge and bus-only road across Stapleton Allotments and Smallholdings including mass tree felling, relocation of allotment plots onto an existing wildflower meadow with toxic soil and a massive construction compound.
The roads function would be to get passengers to/ from UWE through Stoke Lane a few minutes quicker than using alternative routes.
What is at risk?
- Green belt,
- Frome Valley Conservation Area,
- Wildlife Corridor, habitat and foraging ground,
- part of Bristol’s Strategic Green Network.
- Cultivated land, mature trees
- Carr woodland, hedgerow
- Stoke Park Grade 2 listed heritage area (across M32).
Food growing legacy:
Historically this land was Bristol’s Market gardens and for many years has been council Allotments and Small holdings. This land has highly fertile food growing soil – some of the best in the country/ area – a Mixture of Grade 1 – 3 : Best & Most Versatile (BMV).
It is home to Feed Bristol, Avon Wildlife Trust Community Engagement Wildlife & Food growing project and long standing much loved allotments.
Loss of land:
The planning application Environmental Statement (P16-9) states that “This results in the loss of 1.79ha of land at the Stapleton Allotment site, which would partially and totally affect 24 smallholdings (73% of all plots) and 43 allotments (40% of plots). In the context of Stapleton Allotments, this represents a substantial permanent loss of smallholding and allotment land. The loss of land is irreversible and is likely to significantly impact on the functioning of the allotments. It is predicted to have a major adverse effect, which is significant.”
Permission was sought from the Secretary of State in 2013 for the disposal of the protection of the Allotments Act based on the superstition of sustainable transport whilst providing unfactual reports on the quality of soil and land use.
Some of the allotment plots are being relocated onto what is currently a beautiful Wildflower meadow – this work is the first step in this road development as there is a “Grampian” style condition that states that the allotments have to be in place with extra facilities BEFORE the road developments can start. These works are planned to start in February 2015 as the Mayor has released an advance in money ( over £800,000) from Community funds so work can begin before full funding approval from the Government.
This site boasts Best & Most Versatile soil and lies on the tip of the Blue Finger – a highly fertile piece of agricultural soil – some of the best in the Country (see www.bluefingeralliance.org.uk). The
relocated allotments also need to be of the equivalent of better quality- which soil experts refute is actually possible as this site is so special.
Recent revelations show that the relocation destination – a wildflower meadow – has high levels of the toxic heavy metal lead at over 80 ppm making it unacceptable for Community allotments (or growing food). Bristol City Council contractors plan to scrape off 60 cm of the current leaded soil, take it “away” and import the same amount of soil again. These are major soil works and would involve thousands upon thousands cubic metres of soil on and off the site. Allotment holders and Rising up have serious concerns at of health & safety of people and wildlife as well as a huge waste of resources and doubtful outcomes. It is unclear where soil of equivalent quality can be sourced, and the disruption of relocating soil, which is itself a highly complex and poorly understood ecosystem, always reduces its fertility.