Stoke Park - Bristol - Citizen Space

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Archaeological and historic structures are in poor condition. Both the park and the anti- aircraft battery site are sepa

Stoke Park Future Plans Consultation Summary A Conservation Management Plan has been prepared in accordance with a brief agreed between Bristol City Council and Historic England. The plan sets out the history, significance and current condition of Stoke Park, and advises on its future management and conservation. Stoke Park is a grade II registered historic park, most of which has been owned by Bristol City Council since 2012, and is currently on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. Documentary research, site survey, previous research, and consultations with key stakeholders have informed this plan. A key aim of the plan is to improve the welcome in the park for visitors from across the city.

Stoke Park is significant as: • A striking and dramatic landscape with panoramic views celebrated by visitors, writers and artists since the 1700s. • A nationally important, well-documented and rare surviving example of a mideighteenth century landscape and house designed by Thomas Wright, the Wizard of Durham; working with the owner, Norborne Berkeley; landscape enthusiast and later Prime Minister, William Pitt; and, possibly, William Kent. • The site and setting of several listed and unlisted parkland follies and structures designed by Wright, or incorporated by him into the landscape park.

Stoke Park 1712

• The home of the pioneering Stoke Park Colony, the first home for adults and children with special needs certified under the Mental Health Act of 1913. • The remains of Purdown Percy, an anti-aircraft battery that defended Bristol and its aircraft factories during the Second World War, and now a scheduled monument. • The location of the listed Purdown Telecommunications Tower, one of only twelve reinforced concrete radio masts in the UK. Stoke Park

• A locally important Site of Nature Conservation Interest, with a range of wildlife habitats. • A Regionally Important Geological Site for the underlying Jurassic and Triassic bedrocks and fossilised remains. • A highly valued public open space in north Bristol, appreciated as a place for quiet recreation, part of the living history of the mid-twentieth century suburb of Lockleaze, and enjoyed by all the adjacent communities. This is demonstrated by activities and volunteer working carried out to date.

However, the parkland is not without its issues: Before 1922

• Construction of the M32 through the park has subdivided the park, and created major visual impact, litter, and noise pollution. • A lack of active woodland management has resulted in sycamore regeneration, the loss of mature woodland trees and a less diverse ground flora. • Nearly all the historic parkland trees have been lost over the course of the twentieth century. • Archaeological and historic structures are in poor condition. Both the park and the antiaircraft battery site are separately listed on the Heritage at Risk register. • The absence of traditional livestock grazing has resulted in areas of uncontrolled growth of scrub, mown grassland with low biodiversity, and the decay of historic field boundaries.

Purdown Battery c. 1962

• Bristol City Council has limited resources for the park and the absence of a Conservation Management Plan to prioritise works has delayed improvements, creating some frustration among local people. The lack of a plan for the future of the park is one of the reasons it is considered to be at risk by Historic England.

• There is no system of all-weather path circuits, and visitor access to Stoke Park is limited by the lack of a dedicated car park. • There are no visitor facilities, few formal events or education programmes, and limited interpretation of the park. • The security of the park is difficult to maintain due to its size and multiple entrance points. Anti-social behaviour includes vandalism, littering, dog-fouling, fly-tipping and arson.

Proposals: • Encourage and welcome local communities to take part in all types of activity in the park, including volunteering, open days, school visits, guiding the management of the park, and operating the café as a social enterprise; • Interpret the park, its structures and history for all park users; • Maintain and repair the park’s historic structures (walls, follies and ponds) based on carefully thought-out priorities;

• Progressively bring woodlands back into management, over a twenty year programme, with a mixture of coppice-with-standards, ornamental high forest and quiet areas for wildlife, restoring Thomas Wright’s flowery wood walks, benches and follies;

• Reintroduce seasonal grazing to areas of parkland and downland progressively over a ten year programme. In grazing areas, dogs will have to be kept under control; • Replant parkland trees and, thin out scrub.

• Restore historic gravel paths and rides to allow people of all abilities to enjoy the park at all times of the year, and provide low level direction and information signage for visitors; • Protect and record the park’s archaeology, from the historic path routes to the Second World War anti-aircraft battery, involving local people in archaeological investigations; • Create a new visitor car park and access to a community café, close to existing play areas, along the main historic circulation route, with a glimpse view to the Dower House, close to the woodland walks, and at the northern end of Lockleaze open space; Given economic realities, Bristol City Council know that these ambitious improvements can only be delivered by working in a series of close partnerships, with the Brandon Trust, as grazier; with Historic England, who have helped fund this plan; with Natural England, providing funding through a Countryside Stewardship agreement; with other major funders including, hopefully, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Parks for People programme; and with local community groups and volunteers, including you. Please tell us what you think using the online questionnaire stokeparkconsultation.Your responses will inform applications for external funding.