‘Be open to developments’: housing could be the problem tipping Lockleaze elections
Lockleaze has become the site of a wave of real estate developments. Retiring former Labor advisers, the internal divide and last-minute candidates could affect their chances of re-election, as other parties step up their efforts.
There is a Lockleaze map stuck to the Hub window in Gainsborough Square, showing 24 sites slated for development. Over the next ten years, some 1,500 new homes could be built in the area. Many will come much sooner: 20 of the 24 sites are in the planning stages.
Lockleaze in north Bristol has been a secure Labor seat since 2013, but current advisers Estella Tincknell and Gill Kirk are both stepping down. The new Labor candidates were only selected recently after infighting between local and regional branches of the party, no doubt affecting the campaign to retain the seat. Nine candidates from six parties will run for Lockleaze on May 6; all have different views on how housing will shape the future of the region.
According to the Lockleaze Community Plan 2019-2024, created by Lockleaze Neighborhood Trust (LTN), nearly one in three Lockleaze residents live in social housing. Demand in the region is incredibly high: In 2017, 800 people applied to live in a single United Communities property.
Lockleaze Estate’s post-war homes – once coveted for their indoor bathrooms and generous gardens – are now showing their age. “Ineffective and costly,” said locals interviewed for the community plan. More than half of residents said energy bills “sometimes cause them financial stress.”
Even Lockleaze’s relatively new social housing is failing some residents: During the 2020 lockdowns, people living in apartments above the Hub were swarmed with rats.
Social and affordable housing features in planned developments, including the Brunel Ford site on Muller Road and the abandoned Blue Boy pub. About half of the 185 units built on Bonnington Walk will be social rental properties or made affordable to purchase through shared ownership; the 49 houses on Shaldon Road will be in shared ownership.
LNT itself submitted an application to build 19 affordable homes, designed in consultation with the local community. At least half will be offered to local residents, and LNT hopes this will pave the way for future community housing.
Losing green spaces and community buildings
The bare brown dirt of the Bonnington development is visible from Constable Road, where the Concorde Way cycling and walking path is currently blocked. Cleared of vegetation for the start of construction, it could be completed by the end of this year.
Maria (not her real name), who has lived in Lockleaze for five years, can see the development of her home. She got involved in the planning consultation, knocking on doors to encourage people to comment. “But people were like, ‘what’s the point, because it’s already decided?’ I think that’s true, unfortunately.
Worried about the speed of development, loss of wildlife and additional local traffic, Maria describes the experience as “undemocratic”. It gave him a sense of helplessness and frustration: “The most important thing is that people feel that the board doesn’t really care. They do what they want.”
What does she want from future advisers? “Listening to local residents, being open to developments and working together on a unified vision for the community. Basically, be on our side.
Across the tracks, people living near the Dovercourt depot development – which will not include any social housing – are at the start of their planning struggle.
“We fear it will be rushed,” says Sophie, a local resident. Some 70 residents attended the first consultation via Zoom, but were “disappointed” by the “dismissive response” to their suggestions to re-route an emergency access road, slated to cut through green spaces.
“It’s an expensive development,” says Sophie. “The land is precious. I don’t think that solves the problem of the lack of affordable housing for people in the area. It feels like with promises to build thousands of new homes, the homes are all placed in areas like Lockleaze rather than richer areas of the city.
“It seems unfair if it is not accompanied by improvements and investments in the community.”
In addition to losing green spaces, community buildings are also threatened. A campaign has begun to save the Cameron Center – a busy community hall – which would be demolished, along with the adjacent former police station, for new housing.
Although plans include a library and a cafe / restaurant, which Lockleaze currently lacks, activist Merriel Wagoner says the space is irreplaceable: “It’s a truly inclusive and affordable place and there is no Another great community space – at all – throughout Lockleaze. Some of the 50 members of Lockleaze’s newly formed ACORN group are also keen to see the space remain a community asset, said organizer Esme Roslin.
Lockleaze was detained by Labor for 27 of the 38 years he was a ward. In 2016, Councilors Kirk and Tincknell obtained 53% and 45% of the vote respectively, with the Greens in a distant third.
However, party infighting affected the campaign to retain the seat. Alfie Thomas and Anna Lart Greene were selected by Bristol Labor members in October 2020, but were not allowed to run by South West Labor.
Labor Bristol initially asked Lockleaze for a shortlist of women to replace the two sitting councilors, but then decided the parish could shortlist both men and women. South West Labor regional manager Phil Gaskin later overturned that decision after the candidates were screened, meaning Alfie Thomas was not allowed to run.
After Gaskin made various unpopular decisions with the leftist campaign group Momentum, individuals including Anna Lart Greene – a Labor member since 2015 – tweeted #sackgaskin and were suspended for intimidation. She is not eligible to stand up while suspended.
The Southwest Labor Party picked new candidates, but the local party’s executive committee resigned en masse. Anna Lart Greene says: “It was really just a rubber stamp – a ‘it’s our decision’ meeting. When Lockleaze’s Labor wing realized it would be this kind of meeting, it resigned in protest. Members were then informed that the candidates had been “duly elected”.
The South West Labor Party has been asked for comment.
What the candidates say
Standing for work are Aadayamelika Adlam and Theresa Allain. Adlam, a Lockleaze resident, told Cable that, if elected, she would consider the priority of new developments and their accessibility.
About renting, she says: “It is extremely important to me as a candidate that communities are fully informed about the difference between affordable rent and social rent, so that we can prevent families from accepting rent. that are not durable.
Allain told Cable his priority was to ensure that “the new housing that is so badly needed now is truly affordable and that social housing is included,” and considers rental policies that put local people first. are “essential”.
The ex-doctor added: “I am particularly pleased that additional care housing development is planned in Gainsborough Square. I know that many local residents would appreciate the opportunity to live in the heart of their community. It will be important to ensure that local populations have priority for this accommodation. “
David Wilcox, a Lockleaze resident, represented the Green Party in 2016, finishing third. Wilcox and fellow Green candidate Heather Mack told Cable: “Lockleaze needs homes that the people of Lockleaze can afford to live in.”
They added that local people should be “consulted when land is designated for development”, and that affordable housing is built on abandoned sites, rather than on green spaces “chosen by developers”. The Greens also want all new homes in Bristol to be carbon neutral.
The Liberal Democrats held Lockleaze from 2002 to 2013. None of their candidates, Maz Choudhury and Graham Donald, have previously run for Lockleaze. The Conservatives are also putting forward new candidates Nigel Brown and George Maggs. They did not respond to requests for comment.
For the Syndicalist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), there is Roger Thomas, who was at Lockleaze in 2014. He criticizes the council’s use of “parasitic” private developers, whose affordable housing is still unaffordable, and advocates the control of rents and compulsory registration of owners.
“Having a house is a right, not a privilege,” he says. “TUSC stands for the construction of social housing for all, to provide housing for our young people and all age groups at affordable rents: providing security against the fear of eviction and having to choose between food or rent.
Sophie, a resident of Dovercourt Road, says whoever is elected to Lockleaze must act in the best interests of the residents – “not just follow the party line”.
“I would like councilors to truly represent their constituents and understand people’s concerns. Our voices are as important as the residents of Clifton, Redland and Bishopston.