Loophole means Filwood Park in Bristol can’t be town green
RESIDENTS have lost their fight to have Filwood Park registered as a town green – despite proving it has been used for more than 20 years – due to a legal technicality.
People living near the south Bristol park submitted a town green application two years ago, in the hope of protecting the site from development.
The land was sold by the council in 2008 to the government quango English Partnerships, despite objections from locals.
Earlier this month EP’s successor the Homes and Community Agency announced it would start work on a multi-million-pound development that will build on the park.
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The HCA and the council both objected to the town green application and a public inquiry was held last July.
Local people successfully proved the site had been used by the community for more than 20 years, the usual requirement for an application to succeed.
But Inspector Vivian Chapman still recommended refusal and that was agreed by the council’s public rights of way committee on Monday.
From the council’s point of view it came down to the difference between two legal definitions – the ability of residents to use the park “by right” or “as of right”.
One would allow a town green application to proceed, the other not and would open the council to legal challenge it could well lose.
The council argued successfully that because the land is a park already it cannot become a town green as well.
That means it isn’t afforded the same level of protection as town green status, which would prevent it from being built on.
Filwood resident Mil Lusk was involved in the campaign for four years and said she was “gutted” to have lost.
The HCA has promised to build a new park as part of the redevelopment.
But Ms Lusk says without legislation to protect the existing park they will have to hope the developers are as good as their word.
She said: “I am disappointed. I was flabbergasted really. It wouldn’t have happened in Clifton or Henleaze or any posh places.
“It was never about building housing, it was the right to keep it as a park. Even though there is new open space as part of the development we’ll lose 50 per cent of our park.
“This is all about local communities having the right to protect their spaces.”