'Preserving our slopes is so important' - campaigners

August 26 2021
'Preserving our slopes is so important' - campaigners

Novers Hill must be protected in the fight against climate change.

By Lindsey Cole

This is the call from a local resident after proposals were put forward to build 157 new homes on the site, also known as the Western Slopes.

Last month, South Bristol Voice asked our readers to have their say on the new building proposals in south Bristol.

Following a public online meeting, developers Lovell Homes prepared a Q&A document inviting residents to give their thoughts on the plans, which include 30 per cent affordable homes.

Danica Priest [pictured above, left], a local resident said: “We want people to be fully informed of how harmful it would be to the south Bristol wildlife network.”

The Western Slopes is a vast area of ecological importance in south Bristol.

Bordering Novers Hill and the Harcliffe Way, it is home to an array of wildlife and is part of a wider conservation corridor. Priest, along with 851 residents, is part of the Friends of Western Slopes group, which wants to protect it.

A bird's eye view of the site earmarked for development. Hartcliffe Way is the main road to the left of the boundary. Novers Hill runs along the right-hand side of the boundary

 “The development ecology report found eleven species of bats including the rare greater and lesser Horseshoe bats. Lovell said that eleven species is a normal amount to find in an area, but there’s only 17 species in total in the country,” Priest said.

“They never did a winter bird, a reptile or invertebrates survey. Their summer bird survey was one-day long – so it is an insufficient sample size.”

Priest said Lovell conducted a sound survey last June 2020, during ‘peak lockdown’. “The social housing will act as a sound barrier for the rest of the development and the social rent flats will have to have ‘alternative ventilation’ because sound levels are too high for normal window opening.” Priest added that during the public online meeting last month, Lovell was unaware about the new recycling centre being built on Hartcliffe Way. “Would people really want to live next to it?,” she said.

When approached for a response, Lovell said: “The ecological studies have comprised habitat and protected species surveys in line with good practice, agreed with the council’s ecologist. Additional invertebrate and bird surveys will be carried in August 2021.”

The developers said that the Pollution Control Team at Bristol City Council was consulted regarding the sound assessment in June 2020. “It was determined that sound level data from June 2019 for a noise assessment carried out on Hartcliffe Way in October 2019, could be used as part of the assessment alongside data recorded on site in June 2020,” they said. “75 per cent of homes will have additional measures. This includes higher specification glazing and ventilation if and when those residents wish to close their windows. This is necessary for most new homes in cities and towns.”

Lovell also commented that their traffic studies did account for future use of the recycling centre and that there would be a significant additional spending by new residents to Knowle West shops which are a ten-minute walk away.

Priest added: “Species-rich grasslands like Novers Hill are vital in the fight against climate change. They store large amounts of carbon, stop soil erosion, slow floodwaters, support pollinators and provide forage opportunities for bats, birds of prey and other wildlife.

“We can’t tackle our biodiversity and ecological emergency without protecting these important green spaces. We want to keep Novers Hill a nature reserve.”