The fence


The Risk Assessment


What About the Cost?


Cotham School worked in secret with Council officers to get the go-ahead for its plan to fence the field. When it announced the plan at the end of November 2018, it was a huge shock to the community and we had to act quickly, with fantastic support from our Councillors and our MP, to find out how this could possibly have happened. To help share the information we had at the time, we also recorded a series of podcasts to summarise some of the concerns we had about how the fence went up, the many unanswered questions about the risk assessment that apparently called for the fence and the costs involved.

How did it happen?

Our three videos let you decide for yourself, on the basis of evidence obtained under Freedom of Information rules.

Part 1: https://youtu.be/-66DIVdZEys 

(10 mins)

Part 2: https://youtu.be/5DUVV6Vdz7Q 

(8 mins)

Part 3: https://youtu.be/5sX_uV38Q5E 

(8 mins)

Let’s start at the beginning, well, the beginning for We Love Stoke Lodge.

Over just a few weeks in summer 2018, Bristol City Council performed a dramatic U-turn which allowed Cotham School to put up a 1.5km long, 2m high metal fence around the historic estate of a listed building with no planning application and no landlord oversight. 

In doing so, it turned curtilage land into non-curtilage land and declared that the security fence is 'not a structure'. What was going on behind the scenes?

Bristol City Council refused a retrospective planning application for one of the signs erected at Stoke Lodge as it was threatening and misleading. 

Despite this decision, Cotham School has not taken down two identical signs that have been allowed to remain without planning permission.

In March 2019 this video was put together because Bristol City Council decided that a petition signed by 4,400 people could not be heard due to potential legal challenges.  

Surely thousands of residents have the right to be heard ?

It did not prejudice any legal matters - so why did our Council refuse to listen to us?

2020: Coronavirus

Cotham School locked local residents out of Stoke Lodge Playing Fields, preventing many from safely exercising once a day within social distancing rules.

We appealed to the school to change its approach for the good of the community, and we appealed to Bristol City Council as landlord to enforce the lease and require the gates to be unlocked in this video.

When Cotham School arrived at Stoke Lodge, without warning, to build a 2m high, mile long high security fence our amazing community came together at Stoke Lodge to protect many beautiful protected trees. So many people gave up hours on their time standing in the freezing cold, sleet, snow and rain for over 8 weeks - making a huge difference. One of the fabulous 'tree watch team' is also a great musician - listen to this !  

A stunning video made by a very talented Local.

Just beautiful: Vimeo


Please take the time to watch and ask yourself:

·  Is it appropriate for a school to write to a council saying they should '...not give the community a chink to pop at'?

·  Should a council reverse a 20-year view on curtilage based on entirely inadequate and biased material provided by an interested party?

·  Has Bristol City Council retro fitted legal advice to a decision they had already made?

·  Do Bristol developers just need political clout and closed doors at City Hall to get what they want?

Floss Not Fence - 5th October 2018

Lots of Floss and fun on Stoke Lodge!

Click here to see the video

One of the first things We Love Stoke Lodge tried to do was to seek compromise solutions with Cotham School. 

As a community we are blessed with experts in areas relevant to the situation at Stoke Lodge and after much valued advice and great consideration we had our vision for the future, one that we felt would be acceptable to all. 

As with everything like this, it was a starting point for negotiations, but sadly discussions never got off the ground.

This 8 minute video sets out two alternative visions for Stoke Lodge, including some of our proposals to enable school and community sports to be played again on this beautiful site, peacefully co-existing with community use as has been the case for over 70 years.

Our Video from December ’18 highlighting WLSL compromise solutions

An ever-growing collection of all our podcasts and videos

Many of our podcasts and videos have direct links through from the relevant page, but if you know what you’re looking for you might prefer to come straight here.

Or just browse through - it’s an excellent way to familiarise yourself with some of the main issues and arguments that have come up during the last three years or so.

In this video WLSL members Emma and Helen explain why legal action to restore full public access to Stoke Lodge is continuing, and how Cotham School and the City Council can save further legal costs by agreeing a compromise solution.

This is our podcast explaining about the signs put up by Cotham School and intended to frighten the public into keeping off of Stoke Lodge against the terms of the lease.

What goes up...WILL COME DOWN!


On 16th Feb ’22 Helen Powell was a guest on the 10am Roma Widger show on BCfm. Helen spoke with Roma for around an hour about the history of the area around Stoke Lodge and of the house and grounds as well as answering a few questions about the issues with the fence built in 2019.

We Love Stoke Lodge would like to thank Roma and BCfm for their interest in our beautiful local space and giving Helen the opportunity to share our thoughts with the people of Bristol.

Roma Widger Show

10.00 - 16/02/2022

With Kind permission of BCfm

Two short excerpts:

A TVG would mean that the fence would have to come down but there could still be PE and sports.

Click here

The Importance of maintaining open space for people and for nature - a citywide issue.

Click here

BCfm interview YouTube link - click here

Over on the Blog page you can find links to the fantastic new We Love Stoke Lodge blog.

It’s a quick and easy way to catch up on the issues around the fight

to secure TVG status for Stoke Lodge.

(the old links are still there, scroll down...)

An introduction and a bit about TVGs

One enthusiastic Stoke ‘Lodger’ is doing some chatty recordings

based on the blog posts if that’s the way you prefer

to digest your information;

the links to some of the SoundCloud files are below to click on if you fancy a listen, they’re all available from SC - search We Love Stoke Lodge.

We’ve included them because we know that some people

like an audio format but although we can vouch

for the information on the blog,

if there are personal opinions or inflections then please remember

that they are exactly that - personal, and do not

necessarily reflect the opinion of We Love Stoke Lodge.

Why should this matter to anyone else?

What has happened at Stoke Lodge is happening all over the country, we are losing green space at an alarming rate. This is how it happens.

What do we have to prove for a TVG?

The basics of the legal test.

The Avon signs and ‘sufficiency’

Bristol City council was obliged to make it entirely clear to the pubic that use of Stoke Lodge was prohibited, were the three old Avon County Council signs enough on a 26 acre site with so many entrances?

The Avon signs – ambiguity

So what did they actually mean?

Warning or prohibition?

No activities at all or just those listed?

More to follow!

Meanwhile visit the new blog

We need to talk about Stoke Lodge

Statutory incompatibility

So what’s it all about?

I’m rejoined by the same eager questioner -

What does it mean? And what does it mean

for Stoke Lodge?

The Smoking Gun - the landowner statement

Another inquisitive Stoke ‘Lodger’ joins me for a coffee and a chat in the kitchen - what is a landowner statement and why is it important?

Doing PE at Stoke Lodge

An Insiders view - what do the staff think?

And what about the governors? Is travelling across north Bristol really such a good idea?

Another coffee and chat in the kitchen

Cotham’s 2014 Options Paper

What do they really want to do with

Stoke Lodge?

Intro and outro track: A Part of Us

Music by https://www.fiftysounds.com