Category Archives: Environmental and Sustainability

Love Parks Week

Cllr Ellie King smiles in front of City Hall,  text below reads 'This weeks blog is by Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities'
This weeks blog is by Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities

Love Parks Week is a chance to again celebrate Bristol’s fantastically diverse range of parks and green spaces. All of which are so important to our health and wellbeing, and which in recent times have drawn in even more visitors than ever before.

Parks are a glorious mix of the public and the private: public when we walk the dog, catch up with friends, and encourage our children to play and explore; and private when used for picnics, exercise, relaxation, or even quiet contemplation. Our parks provide us with all this and so much more, and during COVID-19 restrictions local parks were a crucially important lifeline for many too.

We’re very lucky to be home to an array of beautiful green spaces. We have formal parks, nature reserves and recreation grounds across Bristol, including large estate parklands such as Ashton Court and Stoke Park. Stoke Park is also undergoing some important work to make it accessible to all. Improvements to an existing historic path aim to be completed this summer.

A photo of Ashton Court with a field in the foreground of the photo, infront of a line of trees in the back of the photo
Ashton Court

We have wooded areas such as those at Badock’s Wood and Manor Woods Valley, district parks such as Eastville Park and Redcatch Park and vital local community green spaces such as Riverside Park or Withywood Park. Big or small, local to you, or further afield, these parks provide a welcome respite of big open-air space and greenery in an urban landscape. 


Let’s not forget how important playparks are to families also! From inner city playparks such as St Paul’s Park to larger play areas like Blaise Estate, these areas provide somewhere for children and young people to explore, make connections and engage in physical activity. Many a friendship has started in a playpark – adults and children alike.

There are therapeutic benefits to being outdoors in our parks with much research showing how being in or amongst green spaces can increase our physical health, mental wellbeing and quality of life. Trials of ‘green prescriptions’ are underway around the UK with GPs encouraging patients to take exercise in nature, with Roots to Wellbeing therapy in nature sessions available for free in Bristol.  Due to open this August at Blaise Nursery is a new Community and Therapeutic Glasshouse, where community groups will be able to book for horticulturally based therapeutic events.

A photo of Oldbury Court Estate, with a waterfall at the front of the image and Trees in the background. Text below reads Oldbury Court Estate
Oldbury Court Estate

Love Parks Week is the perfect opportunity to say a huge thank you to the many volunteers, park groups and workers who care for, maintain and protect our parks, making sure that citizens, visitors, and wildlife can all enjoy these spaces for generations to come.

Projects to enhance our green spaces such as the £400,000  St George lake improvement project make sure that parks are looked-after and preserved for people, but also that we create a safe and diverse habitat where wildlife can flourish and biodiversity is promoted. The work we’ve done at St George lake should within months start to benefit birds, bees, amphibians, and pond micro-beasts too. In the longer-term hopefully, dragonflies, damselflies, newts, and bats, will come to enjoy the new mini-wetland habitat also. Parks and green spaces form a very important part of our commitment to protecting and reversing the decline of wildlife in the UK.

An image of St Georges Park Lake, The lake is in the foreground of the image with Trees in the background surrounding the lake. Text beneath reads St George Park Lake being re-filled.
St George Park Lake being re-filled

This Love Parks week, join me in celebrating our shared love of our parks and green spaces by getting out and about and perhaps by exploring a park you have never been to before!  To find out more about the parks and green spaces in Bristol visit our Parks webpages.

Keen to do more to make space for nature in Bristol? Get inspired and find tips and support at Actions – Bristol Climate Hub 

Food Justice Week

Today’s blog is by Ped Asgarian,
Director of Feeding Bristol

The One City Food Equality Strategy is ambitious in its aims and scope to provide Bristol with a more equitable food system. Designed with input from across the city, it reflects the desire to ensure that food is a right and not a privilege. It has been launched this week as part of Bristol’s first Food Justice Week – a week that highlights some of the great work happening across the city, and invites citizens to come and join in the conversation about our food system.

Over the past decade, the gap in household income between the richest fifth and the poorest fifth in our society has become  larger than ever. According to the Office for National Statistics, almost a fifth of the country are now living in relative poverty – many of whom will likely be experiencing food insecurity.

If you take the recommended weekly spend on food, and the average spend on energy and rent, the average household needs to be earning approximately £20,000 per year. But families and households living below the poverty line in the UK struggle to make ends meet with much less. Bristol is no exception – in the most disadvantaged wards in the city, the average household income (adjusted for size and make-up of household to allow for relative comparison) for a family of four is only £17,000. As a consequence, the reality is that the poorest in our society – in our city – spend on average, around £55 per week on food to feed a family of four. This is about a third of the recommended spend required to achieve the necessary calorie and nutritional intake.

Food equality exists when all people, at all times, have access to nutritious, affordable and appropriate food according to their social, cultural and dietary needs. They are equipped with the resources, skills and knowledge to use and benefit from food, which is sourced from a resilient, fair and environmentally sustainable food system.”

One City Food Equality – Bristol Food Equality Stakeholder Group, 2021

Inequality exists on our doorstep in Bristol. Where the poorest family of four may earn £17,000, the average income can be up to £60,000 is the wealthier wards of our city. However, household poverty is not the only struggle we’re up against, as this disparity is also felt in the distribution of shops, restaurants, support organisations, access to public transport, and opportunities for cooking and eating with others. COVID-19 in particular has shone a spotlight on the vast inequalities that exist in how we access nutritious, affordable, and sustainably sourced produce –   both nationally and locally. Coupled with the impact of Brexit on both our national food system and economy, if we do not act to ensure an equitable local food system is established, these inequalities will not only continue to exist but will intensify.

The strategy was co-produced with over 70 groups and organisations from across Bristol, including 91 Ways; Bristol Food Union; Lawrence Weston Community Farm; Square Food Foundation; and Wellspring Settlement. It has been informed by community conversations with people who have lived experience of food inequality, the Food Equality Strategy identifies and tackles the issue of rising food inequality in our city. It is a legacy of the ‘Going for Gold’ Sustainable Food Places campaign, and builds on work and research that has been carried out over the last two decades in Bristol. Working alongside the Bristol Good Food Plan 2030, and other One City initiatives that tackle poverty and inequality, its ambitious aim is for a food system that is just and fair. Its scope is far reaching to ensure that food is placed in the heart of communities; looking at issues of access to nutritious, affordable and appropriate food, to our relationship with the land and food production, through to the need to ensure that food is considered as part of city planning and decision making.

This strategy represents an opportunity for Bristol to take a national lead on tackling issues of food insecurity and food inequality more broadly, and with the help of everyone in the city, we have no doubt that this can be made a reality.


Open tomorrow! Hartcliffe Way recycling centre

Councillor Kye Dudd at the new Hartcliffe Way Reuse and Recycling Centre

Instead of “Out with the old and in with the new”, tomorrow our brand-new Reuse and Recycling Centre on Hartcliffe Way will be taking in old items for reuse and recycling.

It has been a commitment of my administration to deliver this important facility, and I am really pleased to deliver this promise. The relocation of the street cleansing services that the depot previously hosted on the site is also something we will be sharing more information about very soon.

The centre brings much needed additional recycling capacity to Bristol, helping to meet growing demand and providing residents with a modern, accessible, facility in the south of our city.

This will help reduce congestion at our existing two sites too, meaning everyone can clear up their DIY projects, clear out old household items, or remove other waste in a more efficient way.

The new site has a covered unloading area and one-way traffic system so residents can safely sort their items into easily accessible, dedicated bins. Hartcliffe Way also accepts visitors arriving by foot and bicycle, who do not need to book.

The booking system we have at all sites for residents arriving by vehicle is designed to eliminate queues at all recycling centres and replaces the odd and even number plate system, enabling access for all residents, every day.

I am excited that the centre is also home to one of the largest reuse shops and workshops in the region which we be selling and repairing good quality, pre-loved items that might otherwise have gone to waste. Redirecting reusable items from disposal, saves valuable resources, reduces costs and helps Bristol reach our ambitious recycling targets. Popular items for sale include televisions, paint, furniture and other electricals.

A specially commissioned, large-scale bug hotel in the shape of a recycling logo has been installed on the site, helping to encourage native wildlife and flowers to repopulate the banks surrounding the centre. The muddy banks will become wildflower meadows, supporting local insect populations.

The new site will be open seven days a week, 8am – 6:45pm (summer hours). Booking a visit to the site is quick, simple and removes the need to queue. Residents can book up to two weeks in advance, or as little as one hour before their visit. To book online simply visit www.bristol.gov.uk/bookrecycling. Those without access to the internet can call 0117 922 2100, Mon – Fri between 08:30 – 18:00 (closed 12:00 – 13:30 on Weds).

£95 million for Temple Meads & Temple Quarter

Bristol Temple Meads station main entrance is pictured in black and white, against a light blue background. White texts sits to its left, reading: “£95m for Temple Meads & Temple Quarter”, with the Mayor of Bristol’s logo below.

Waiting for your train to arrive is something all too familiar to many of us. Waiting for the money to reinvigorate Bristol Temple Meads and Temple Quarter, and kickstart the development of the surrounding area, is something all of Bristol has been eagerly waiting on for more than a decade.

I remember the first Temple Quarter Strategic Board meeting way back in September 2017, where I, along with colleagues from Network Rail, Bristol University, the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) and the West of England Combined Authority met to outline our vision for Bristol, its relationship with Temple Meads and the potential to create a world class gateway to the city and region.

Plans outline the key projects for the transformation of the Temple Meads gateway. Marked, clockwise: The Friary – new bus interchange area and enhanced streetscape; Midland Shed and Northern Entrances – improved passenger facilities including shops; Friary North – mixed use development incorporating public space and cycling facilities; Temple Meads – investment in railway station including increased capacity and enhanced platform access, making Temple Meads the hub of MetroWest and regional mass transit; Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus – University of Bristol campus due for completion in 2023/24; Temple Island – residential, business and commercial development plus hotel and conference centre; Eastern Entrance – proposed new railway station entrance; Southern Gateway – new station entrance with cycle hub and level access to platforms (subject to funding); Station Square – significant public space framing the historic clock tower and main railway station entrance; Mead Street – residential development including new public open space and cycle link; Temple Gate – residential, business and commercial development; Goods yard – new public space with retail and hospitality

It’s thanks to the success of this partnership and the hard work of all those involved from the beginning, who have represented Bristol at the highest level and presented a clear vision for the city and Temple Quarter, that we are now at this exciting moment where I am delighted to say that the long-anticipated £94.7 million investment from government in Bristol has arrived, as announced today by Neil O’Brien MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, on his visit to Bristol.

This will represent a new phase for Brunel’s historic station. Opened in 1840, and expanded in the 1870s and 1930s, Bristol Temple Meads is set to double its capacity to 22 million passengers per year. It will support three new or significantly improved station entrances planned to the north, south, and east of Temple Meads and crucially, a new public transport interchange on the Friary on the northern side of the station, becoming a new transport hub with easy connections for pedestrians, cycling and the bus network.

Plans show Temple Meads' new northern entrance, left, with passengers in the centre, and trees to the right.
Plans for Temple Meads’ new northern entrance

Although we are improving suburban rail in Bristol, with the first new station in almost a century, we know that these other public transport connections are essential to link everyone with the jobs and homes at this transport interchange. This will improve connectivity for people across the city region and reduce carbon emissions, particularly as we bring forward the mass transit system Bristol needs to manage this growth in the most sustainable way.

Importantly, it will further unlock the area around Bristol Temple Meads as a new residential quarter, with up to 22,000 new jobs and 10,000 new homes in 130 hectares (equivalent to about 182 football pitches) in a sustainable location. The first phase alone looks to build 2,500 homes and provide at least two thousand jobs. This combines with the investment the University of Bristol are making in the area, with its Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus programme, and the council’s plans with Legal & General to invest in the mixed-use site at Temple Island, with a conference centre, new affordable homes, and retail space. 

Plans are already underway in Temple Quarter, with a development brief for Mead St, part of Temple Quarter which could provide 1500 new homes and 500 jobs, out to public consultation. You can read the proposals for Mead St and complete the survey online by 4 July.

The Government’s own Levelling Up agenda emphasises that “Mayors have already shown how strong local leadership can enhance economic and other opportunities in urban areas”. By unlocking homes and public service infrastructure, Temple Quarter exemplifies this vision, transforming a vast area of Bristol into a thriving, new urban quarter which will contribute an estimate £1.6 billion annual boost to the local economy.

This long-awaited green light can help support our recovery from the pandemic and lay the foundations for Bristol for the next century; a city which has a world class transport network, quality, affordable homes and accessible jobs at the heart of the city. We will continue to work with partners, businesses and communities already in the area to manage this huge change in a way that will benefit as many people as possible. It is great to finally get this development in train.

Plans show the elements of Bristol's transformation plan for the Temple Meads gateway. The column of images to the right are captioned as follows (top to bottom). Northern Entrance illustration before development of the Friary and Goods Yard (1); Midland Shed pedestrian concourse (3); Southern Gateway (6); Goods Yard public space (12). Captions beneath the main image read as follows. Station and station access: 1. Northern Entrances | Enhanced entrances including new public route through Midland Shed; 2. Eastern Entrance | New entrance; 3. Midland Shed  New retail and ticket office facilities; 4. Proposed access | New access to platforms; 5. Temple Meads Roof | Renovation of historic structure has commenced, funded by Network Rail settlement and Station remodelling | increase rail and platform capacity. Transport interchanges: 6. Southern Gateway | New multi-storey car park, pick-up drop off area, disabled parking, taxi access and step free route to station entrance; 7. Eastern Gateway | New pick-up drop off area and cycle access; 8. The Friary | New bus interchange area and traffic free cycle route; 9. Cycle Hub | New enclosed cycle parking; 10. Station Approach | Reconfigured vehicle access, taxi rank cabs, and blue badge parking. Improved public spaces: 11. Station Square | New public square framing the station’s historic clock tower; 12. Goods Yard and Friary North | New pedestrian spaces enhancing routes into the station; 13. Enterprise Campus public space | Created as part of University of Bristol development; 14. Brunel Mile | Extension of route that connects to Bristol centre. A key indicates sites marked in pink are proposed development sites, and that a number of these projects are subject to funding approval.
Wider plans for the area around Temple Meads

LEDs: keeping the lights on and bills down

Today’s blog is by Councillor Don Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport

Street lighting is something that some of us take for granted, but it’s critically important for our safety and quality of life. Technology moves on and an exciting new opportunity has now presented itself.

We will be replacing 27,000 of our now outdated street lights with Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and will operate them through a new Central Management System (CMS). The LED and CMS combination will reduce electricity consumption by 45 to 50%, saving taxpayers around £1.8 million each year and reducing Bristol’s carbon emissions by a stunning 17,741 tonnes over a decade. In addition, this system requires less maintenance so it will reduce the number of vehicle trips around the city with their associated costs and pollution.

I am really excited about this project, as given the climate emergency and with energy bills rising across the UK, it has never been more important to find ways to reduce our energy consumption across the city. 

The Central Management System provides remote control monitoring and energy measurement over a wireless interface, giving it the ability to dim or brighten individual areas of the city. Examples of the possible benefits of this could be improved women’s safety, more appropriate lighting for wildlife and reduced light pollution.

The variety of lamp posts, which are a welcome feature of our historic streetscape, has required some technical work to allow the LEDs to be used on the more traditional models. As LEDs use less energy, this creates new possibilities for our ongoing work on devising approaches to on-street charging models for electric vehicles, more of which will be announced soon.

Making an upfront investment to speed up our switch over to LED street lighting is a simple way to make energy savings. This is good news for the environment and will dramatically reduce our energy bills, freeing up future resources to be invested in other frontline services. Using smart city technology, this project which will make sure our street lighting network is responsive, reliable and fit for purpose for years to come.

The street lighting replacement programme will be completed over three years at a cost of £12 million, which will soon be recovered at current energy prices.

Temple Cycles

Today’s blog is by Matthew Mears, Founder and CEO of Temple Cycles, one of the Bristol businesses who I have recently visited.

We are a Bristol based bicycle designer and maker and we make some of the world’s most beautiful and high quality bicycles at our production facility in Bedminster. We have an emphasis on making versatile bikes for touring, commuting and also gravel riding, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and making sure our bikes will become vintage. We’ve also now introduced some incredible electric bikes into the line-up.

Sustainability

Temple Cycles was started in 2015, born out of my lifelong passion for cycling and a dream of producing bicycles here in Bristol. Since the start, making high quality machines has been the objective and we want all of the bikes we make to become vintage someday. Too much of the bicycle market is geared around upgrading and replacing your bike every few years. We don’t agree with this and make products which will last a lifetime.

Sustainability of our products and production processes are very important to us. That’s why we only make bikes from 100% recycled steel. This means that our bikes have a very long product lifecycle. If they are properly looked after they will last over 30 years, and when they do reach the end of their time, they can easily be recycled. On top of this, we make sure all of our bikes are very easy to service, maintain and find spare parts for.

The pandemic

There has been a significant change in the way we do business since COVID-19 and Brexit. Supply chain disruption and shipping delays have added extra pressure on the business. We used to operate in a leaner way, holding less stock of parts and materials in the warehouse. Now we hold a higher proportion of this to make sure we have enough to keep production running if we get hit with unexpected or extra supply delays. The demand for our bikes has risen significantly though, as people look for green modes of transport. We only see this becoming more and more important, especially as our cities grow and cars are certainly not the best mobility solution. As governments invest more in cycling infrastructure, we’re excited to see how much of a cycling nation we can become.

Cycling in Bristol

Cycling in Bristol is fantastic. We’re really proud to be part of this cycling city, and we see more and more people on bikes each year. There is so much to do if you like to cycle, with great access to the surrounding countryside and Sustrans national cycle routes. There’s something for everyone here, including great mountain biking in Ashton Court, access to beautiful and quiet country roads, an improving network of cycle lanes, and hundreds of parks and green spaces within the city to cycle to.

We’re really excited to continue growing our business in Bristol and for what the coming years will bring, as our city transforms to become a vibrant ecosystem for sustainable mobility and active travel.

Warm Homes (Go for It)

Today’s blog is from Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Energy, and Waste

Warmer Homes, Advice, and Money (WHAM) is an innovative project supporting Bristol residents living in fuel poverty and experiencing financial hardship.

WHAM brings together the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Talking Money, We Care Home Improvements, Bristol and North Somerset councils, Citizens Advice, Bristol Energy Network and AMS Electrical to provide a comprehensive service for vulnerable people. This includes accessing benefit entitlements, Warm Home discounts, home energy and insulation improvements, fuel vouchers, debt clearance, new heating, charitable grants, and moving onto cheaper tariffs.

WHAM has had an incredible impact so far, and has been held up as good practice by Ofgem and Public Health England. Since 2017, almost 3,500 households have are over £2 million better off through bill savings and financial/other support. It is one of many organisations who have been funded by our Bristol Impact Fund.

Many people are concerned about the cost of living crisis. Rising energy bills are part of a worsening picture, alongside Universal Credit cuts and below-inflation rises in pay and benefits. All will be compounded by the upcoming National Insurance hike.

But WHAM, with a waiting list of over 100 households, is not an emergency service. Instead, people struggling to make ends meet can access support for things like fuel bills, groceries, and school uniform through our Local Crisis Prevention Fund. We have also safeguarded the last Council Tax Reduction Scheme in the Core Cities, with some 40,000 families in our city receiving up to 100% off their council tax bills.

Bristol Energy Service also has some low-cost, handy tips on how to save energy.

Climate Change Committee visits Bristol

Heading to Castle Park Energy Centre

Bristol continues to have a crucial voice in the discussion about our country’s approach to delivering net zero. Yesterday we hosted a delegation of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), an independent statutory body who advise the UK and devolved governments on emissions targets and monitor the progress in reducing carbon emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The Climate Change Committee has organised a series of events in regions across the UK to explore the action being taken on the ground and the barriers that remain to deliver a net zero, climate resilient nation. We were delighted to be able to show them Bristol’s approach and work, with these conversations informing the CCC’s advice to government, shaping the steps the take to support.

We made the most of the opportunity by talking about how we are responding to climate change threats with our flood strategy, and our City Leap project. We toured the energy centre for the Old Market Heat Network, including the UK’s largest water source heat pump. The heat pump works by taking heat from the floating harbour at a low temperature and converts it to a high temperature (75 degrees) for supply into the Old Market Heat Network. We have now connected over 1,000 homes to our network, and are currently connecting offices, schools, and other public sector bodies too.

Castle Park Energy Centre

But Bristol’s offer it not just the world leading engineering and infrastructure, it’s the community collaboration and partnership working which underpin it. So we were able to highlight the Community Climate Action plans. These were co-produced by six community organisations, representing some of Bristol’s most disadvantaged communities, during 2021 as part of the lottery-funded Bristol Community Climate Action project.

The plans identify key priorities to help deliver Bristol’s 2030 carbon neutral ambition, while also improving the quality of life for local residents as the city recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. We were delighted that some of these groups, including Heart of BS13, were able to come and share their experiences. We also highlighted the Citizen’s Assembly, who have helped us develop ideas to reduce the carbon emissions from heating homes in the city.

The One City Climate Strategy aims to make Bristol carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2030. It includes a theme on nature to restore, protect and enhance spaces and the wildlife within them as the climate continues to change.

We have also established an independent advisory committee, the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change, to review the strategy and the evidence. The One City Ecological Emergency Strategy  works in tandem with the climate strategy, including aims to inspire a more conscious form of consumerism and to manage at least 30% of land in Bristol for the benefit of wildlife by 2030. 

Together, we are tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergencies, sharing best practice with other cities, collaborating and innovating as we work to meet our 2030 environmental targets.

Outside Castle Park Energy Centre

Bristol Climate Smart Cities finalists

Today’s blog is by Jessie Carter, Projects and Policy Lead at Bristol Housing Festival

The Bristol Climate Smart Cities Challenge has entered an exciting phase of co-creation following the announcement of 14 finalists on 20 January, after technologists, businesses, and investors were invited to enter the competition and contribute to a new model for delivering affordable, carbon-neutral homes.

This is the next phase in the international city-based open innovation competition, hosted by Nesta Challenges and UN-Habitat, in which four cities were chosen to invite innovators from around the world to help solve their challenges relating to greenhouse gas emissions. Other participating cities are Bogota, Colombia; Curitiba, Brazil; and Makindye Ssabagabo, Uganda.

At an introductory webinar last week, the Bristol finalists not only heard from the project team, which included Bristol One City, Nesta Challenges, UN-Habitat, and others, but listened to each other’s elevator pitches, the beginning of what will arguably be the most crucial part of the challenge. At this stage, each finalist will need to go beyond their own proposal and form teams to collaborate to support system change, leading up to the announcement of the winning teams at the World Forum in Poland in June.

The brief was clear that the barrier to this was not just the technology itself (we have an increasing number of emerging green technology solutions), but the underpinning economic model used to deliver housing by multiple stakeholders that isn’t currently viable. We may be able to build beautiful carbon neutral homes but if we can’t make these affordable – and tackle the very real social inequalities that manifest themselves in housing – then we’ve stopped short of the system change the most vulnerable in our society need.

Secondly, the brief recognised that to achieve system change requires collaboration. We had a lot of questions and clarifications over the application period. That wasn’t unexpected: we knew we had put forward the wicked challenge which our city faces. As the applications rolled in, assessors and judges were looking for not just the capability of each organisation, but the extent to which they were willing to build a coalition for change with other finalists. We were excited to receive 47 applications from around the world and 14 finalists were selected, three of which are local Bristol organisations and twelve are UK based.

From Bristol, the Bristol Community Land Trust and We Can Make presented their pitches to see the community-led housing model become part of this solution, as well as Brighter Places housing association. Other finalists included housebuilders Greencore Construction, Igloo Regeneration, Ilke Homes, EDAROTH, and Innerspace Homes Group. Social enterprise Bioregional Hill are pioneering an innovative affordable housing model, while green energy schemes are offered by Microgrid Foundry and Swedish company Ecoclime, and bringing data solutions are Changebuilding and Parametric Solutions. Finally, Pyterra brings an innovative finance model. We are excited by each of these finalists, but even more so about the potential they bring together.

As the co-creation phase progresses, our hope is that the finalists will work to collectively understand the systemic challenges that Bristol City Council and other commissioners of social housing have grappled with and become ‘more than the sum of their parts’ – addressing multiple points of the system to develop an ecosystem solution and bring in city stakeholders to help them achieve this goal. This will look like considering technology solutions alongside financial and outcome led commissioning supported with data solutions (among others). Ultimately, it will mean finding a new way of delivering housing based on value (and not just cost) so we can combat the climate and ecological emergencies while never losing site of those who don’t have a secure or adequate home in which to live.  

In the next phase of the competition, the ambition of Bristol City Council and the project partners is that the winning teams will be funded to complete a system demonstrator. For us, the best outcome of this competition will be that we don’t just drive change but see affordable, carbon neutral houses built in our city.

Hartcliffe City Farm signs new lease

Transformations, that with hindsight seem like rapid revolutions, can seem no more than a series of tiny steps when you’re in the midst of them. It is worth remembering to celebrate those tiny steps in order to keep the momentum towards the changes we want to see. One such little step forward has been taken in our plans to revitalise the Hartcliffe City Farm, as we’ve signed an interim lease for the main site: 6.5 acres on the southern fringe of the city. Hoorah!

Owned by Bristol City Council, the site is brimming with potential to be a thriving hub of community activity that will transform the neighbourhood and become a player in the whole city’s life. In the long term, it will become a multi-faceted place that brings together the local community with training, education, cultural events, gardens, and, of course, farm animals. All framed within the context of a sustainable enterprise that is serious about addressing the threats of climate change.

The redevelopment of the site has started with a partnership between Heart of BS13 and Windmill Hill City Farm. That spirit of partnership will continue through the growth of the activities in the space: most importantly as a partnership with the local community. The engagement started back in 2019 when the Council developed the community asset transfer brief. Local people were clear that the site should deliver on three priorities: access for all; engaging with animals and nature; providing education and employment.

Since then more outreach has been undertaken. Already over 1,000 local people have been engaged in thinking about the future, the impact of climate change and, in particular, the role of the farm in helping to tackle it. Others are taking direct action, helping out in volunteer work sessions to get the site ready. More than 50 local people have volunteered their time – all small steps towards a bigger change.

Having been fallow for some time, the site has needed considerable attention. Beds have been cleared and re-laid to form the basis of a horticulture enterprise: it will grow food and cut flowers. The buildings on site have been surveyed, and work to make them safe and useful is underway. Education spaces are being put together to enable school visits and early years groups. Each tiny step is moving the project forward.

In the spring we hope to open the gates to more general visits from the public. What they’ll find will be a work in progress – a place taking many ‘tiny steps’ towards a transformed future.