From the H&CCA community survey of 2020, and from conversations with people passing through, I’ve devised a set of answers that might help explain how the space is currently managed & funded. There are also some suggestions of how we might achieve some of the ideas and activities that people have told us they want, and reasons why some ideas can’t be realised.
Q: Who is responsible for the upkeep?
The piazza is officially managed by BCC Highways, as it is not a registered park space. They commission contractors to manage the green spaces and H&CCA has a ‘Certificate of Lawful Development’ which allows the community to paint and plant in certain areas as long as we are responsible for the maintenance of those areas. In affect that means we manage all the planters and the waste created by activities. Over the years we have established a good relationship with Bristol Waste and their Street Cleansing Team who manage the litter and empty the bins. They also have community litter pickers.
Q: What are the restrictions to activities and changes?
We are not allowed to permanently fix anything to the pillars or to the ground. If we want to create new planted areas we submit our ideas to the council with risk assessments and designs so that they can check we are sticking to the rules. We gained permissions to paint the pillars and tarmac the skate spot area and are allowed to paint when areas have been tagged.
Q: How does H&CCA decide its priorities?
We carried out several community consultation events over the years including surveys in 2014 and 2020. We analyse the surveys and come up with ideas that are achievable with the resources we have and share ideas back to the community. Taking on board people’s responses, we develop designs for projects in consultation with relevant experts such as architects, landscape designers and end users. We share these with relevant stakeholders in the council and progress the projects accordingly.
H&CCA has to also comply with our own vision and mission which is to work with local people and progress values of environmental sustainability and community cohesion.
Q: Who pays for the work that H&CCA does?
Over the years the Management Committee and other community volunteers have completed many funding applications for the changes we have delivered, such as the planters, the skate spot, the sedum beds and murals. The funding sources have included BCC City Arts, BCC Neighbourhood Partnerships, Department for Communities & Local Government and section 106/CIL (Monies paid by developers for community or infrastructure improvements). Our funding currently comes from legacy money from former chairman and long term H&CCA MC member, Ray Smith. We take spending of public money and donated money very seriously all our spending is fully accountable and transparent.
Q: What do local people prioritise for the Piazza?
In both the surveys mentioned above, people were most keen to have more green areas and more facilities for young people. Other aspirations are seating, signage, artworks and community events and activities.
Q: What about the air quality and pollution?
There are concerns about the levels of pollution for people here. This is part of the reason we are always planting more carbon absorbers, but it would be really useful to do a study and find out whether there are dangerous levels of emissions, and what the solutions might be.
Q: Why waste public money on improvements if it’s all going to be knocked down?
There’s nothing yet that says it’s all going to be knocked down. In the meantime, the improvements we make are very ‘light touch’ and not so expensive. You can find more information here https://www.hotwellscliftonwood.org.uk/cumberland_basin_western_harbour_plans_history_and_timeline or https://www.bristol.gov.uk/planning-and-building-regulations/western-harbour
Q: Can we have a market or a community event?
In order to have commercial activity we would need to apply for licenses. Vehicle access to the site is limited, so solutions for transporting goods need to be explored. For community events we need licenses for non acoustic music. There is currently no power supply. But we can explore all possibilities.
Q: What ideas do you have to fulfil local aspirations?
At the moment, everything is dependent on things we can do that are Covid safe, so ideas will be considered on what value they bring to minimise feelings of isolation, while making sure we aren’t taking any risks with infection. We’re thinking about:
- Workshop sessions with skaters to build new structures from wood we have in storage
- Festivals or events that can be delivered when restrictions are lifted- hopefully in the summer.
- Increasing tree, shrub and pollinator planting
- Measuring air pollution
- Talking with city wide networks, such as Liveable Neighbourhoods, Bristol Civic Society, Brunel’s Other Bridge, BCC City Arts Team, BCC Growth and Regeneration Team, BCC Tree Planting team, Neighbourhood Forums and other community groups
Q: Can we turn it into a car park or a coach park? (not frequently asked these days, but it has been raised over the years)
No we definitely cannot. This would be a major traffic management challenge and does not fit with majority desires to increase green space or activities for young people. It would and could only come from the City Council and then would be subject to consultation.
Anna Haydock-Wilson Piazza Project Manager for H&CCA 5th January 2021