The ancient rural landscape of sun-drenched farmland at Broomhill may have been agricultural for thousands of years, but the wildlife haven of Brislington Meadows seems set to be replaced by a housing development.
The greenfield site of Brislington Meadows was identified by Bristol City Council in 2014 as a site of possible housing development. The government's land and property agency, Homes England, accumulated land at Brislington Meadows valued at around £15 million, including purchasing some from Bristol City Council in March 2020. Their application for planning permission was eventually taken to a public inquiry held at City Hall, Bristol from January to March 2023.
Despite Bristol City Council's opposition to the proposed development (not least because its elected mayor declared an ecological emergency in February 2020), the government's Planning Inspectorate decided on 18th April 2023 that the housing development could go ahead.
Brislington Community Museum played an active role in informing the debate, providing a platform for consideration of the history and heritage at the Meadows. Also, to assist with its appraisal of the archaeology and history of the site, our chair Ken Taylor addressed the public inquiry, contesting many of the assertions of Homes England, for an hour in the Bordeaux Room, City Hall, on the morning of 4th Feb 2023. The public enquiry sat on 12 days, beginning on 31st Jan and ending on 9th Mar, plus a visit to the site on 10th Mar.
While records about the site may be preserved digitally, this ecological niche will be lost forever. The shared ancestral homes of wildlife at the Meadows will be swept aside by urban housing. The inspector decided the benefits outweighed the harms; history will be the judge of whether he, as representative of our species acting within the law our parliament has determined, was wise.
There may be scope for a judicial review, or some other last minute opportunity to preserve this local greenfield site. The following links may assist with information.
Public Inquiry decision - with some costs being borne by Bristol City Council.
Original planning application - previous comments, archaeological reports, etc.
Homes England - website of the housing developer.
Over the course of the planning process there has been increasing interest in the history of the site, and the excavation of Roman artefacts such as a hoard of blue beads made headline news. This museum has several exhibits relevant to Brislington Meadows:
Multi-purpose flint tool (Neolithic)
Flint arrowhead (Neolithic)
Iron Age or Roman pottery (rimsherd)
Roman pottery (coarseware)
1778 Enclosure Act (facsimile)
In recognition of the lack of readily available information on some aspects of the site, we're hosting information on a variety of related topics by local author Ken Taylor - please note that any views expressed in them are his alone and should not be construed as belonging to Brislington Community Museum. Naturally, the museum has an active role in preserving the legacy of the past - be they stories, artefacts or places of local interest - but these articles are presented impartially to help inform debate about the future of Brislington Meadows.
Excavations - summary of Roman features and finds excavated in 2021.
World War Two - bombing raids of the Bristol Blitz and the Baedeker Raids.
Priest's Path - the public right of way appears to be a survival of a longer, medieval footpath.
Stock pond - a stone-lined pond beside the footpath at the entrance to the fields.
Roman fields - Brislington Meadows - agricultural since Roman times.
Lynchet field system - ground-level changes concealed by spreading hedges.
Ridge & furrow - LiDAR reveals a pattern of ancient ploughing.
The Acres - a pattern of fields related by name and more.
Enclosure Act 1778 - the law that took a large part of Brislington Common into private hands.
Civil War - a tale of horseshoe nails.
Stone Age - thoughts arising from the discovery of a Neolithic tool at Brislington Meadows.