Mayor scales back controversial Western Slopes housing plans after campaign

Residents campaigned to prevent houses being built on Western Slopes.

Controversial plans to build hundreds of homes on a green space in south Bristol have been scaled back after the council branded the site is an important environmental haven.

An ecology report requested by Mayor Marvin Rees found the site, on the Western Slopes between Knowle West and Hartcliffe, had significant ecological value.

The green space had been allocated for a housing development which would have seen up to 600 homes built on the land.

But after a huge campaign by local residents, backed by Avon Wildlife Trust, Mr Rees has said only a maximum of 70 homes should be built there.

Local people launched a campaign to stop the site being built on. Credit: ITV News

The council will now look at other options for the additional homes.

This could involve increasing the density of current developments or identifying new sites to locate the much-needed new affordable housing.

Mayor Rees said: “We need to tackle the housing crisis in Bristol, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our commitments to confronting the climate and ecological emergencies.

"It’s now clear that Western Slopes is a hugely important wildlife corridor and ecologically significant site.

"We are committed to tackling the ecological emergency head on so it’s only right that we pause the proposals for development of council land on Western Slopes.

“Cities are complicated with competing demands and where we locate new homes and how they are built is a nuanced debate.

"Bristol has limited space, and, if we want to protect green spaces, this means building more densely in brownfield locations, close to sustainable travel, jobs, and public spaces. 

"We now need to find other, more suitable sites for these desperately needed new homes, and to make sure we meet the current and future needs of Bristol’s citizens as we do.”

Ian Barrett, Avon Wildlife Trust CEO, added: “This is fantastic news. It is more important than ever that we preserve important wildlife corridors and protect areas of ecological significance.

"The Western Slopes play a key role in Bristol’s nature networks and I am delighted that we have found a way to protect them.

"I look forward to working with Goram Homes, Bristol City Council and local residents to see how we can further enhance these habitats and bring more wildlife back to the city.”