Residents urged to give views over future use of park

Published on: 30 Jan 2014

hill house park

VIEWS are being sought on the future of a parcel of green land in Downend.

Hill House Park, off Hill House Road, had been used by Downend Lower School as a playing field.

But the school closed in September 2005 when it amalgamated with the upper school in Westerleigh Road.

Due to a 10-year rule which prevents any change of use of ex-school playing fields the land has not been developed.

But, with just a few years to go before the covenant runs out, residents are being asked what they would like to see in the park.

Although the land, which is behind the new Willow Surgery, is owned by South Gloucestershire Council, Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council has been liaising with the authority over its future.

They are looking to establish a Friends of Hill House Park group and so far two initial meetings have been held to drum up support.

An official Friends group would also be able to apply for funding to protect and improve the space.

So far suggestions from residents have included a community orchard, allotments, play area, dog walking space and a football destination for youngsters.

Others say they would like to see the land left as it is.

The land is open to the public and is mainly used by dog walkers and people seeking out a quiet place to sit.

The parish council has installed a new gate, seat and sign as well as planting a line of trees which will replace the existing trees when they become old and diseased.

Angela Hocking, clerk of Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council, said: “We’ve had quite a lot of interest from local residents who want to have their say on how the land can be used.

“There’s legal protection on the land which prevents it being used for anything other than a school playing field for 10 years after the school closed.

“There’s only two years of the protection left to run so after that it’s possible to apply for a change of use. The intention of South Gloucestershire Council has always been that it remains as a public open space.

“There is money available from South Gloucestershire Council which was provided by the developers of the new dwellings on the school site to use specifically at the site and for the benefit of local residents.

“Although nothing can be done yet, we are using this time to start up a Friends’ group and to hear people’s input as to how the land could be used.

“All sorts of suggestions have been put forward so far so it’s a case of deciding the best way forward. Any suggestions that go forward would involve a lot of consultation.

The Friends of Hill House Park is looking to form officially with a formal constitution in the New Year.

To find out more about the Friends of Hill House Park, please contact Angela Hocking, clerk to the council, on 956 7001, email clerk@dbhparishcouncil.co.uk or visit Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council’s website www.downendbromleyheath.org

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