Stoke Lodge is a grade two listed house set within 26 acres of land which was in notable private ownership until 1947 when it was bought by what is now Bristol City Council. Thoughts of making it an orphanage through to proposals to build a school on the land never came to anything and today the house is an adult education centre.
In 2009 a major development was proposed to include changing facilities, pitch improvements and fencing off the land. A large number of the local community raised concerns resulting in a public inquiry. In September 2010 the council's Executive Member gave assurances that the proposal to fence Stoke Lodge had categorically been dropped and that the parkland would remain with open access for all "as of right.”
In March 2011 Save Stoke Lodge Parkland (a separate group) applied for Town or Village Green Status for the parkland. In August 2011 the council let the land for 125 years to Cotham Academy for a peppercorn rent. The lease being subject to ”all existing rights and use of the Property including use by the community”. The school was aware that the land was subject to a TVG application and that the Council had recently promised that the land would never be fenced. It agreed to this special clause to protect community use.
Over a few weeks in summer 2018, Cotham School held a series of meetings with BCC planning officers resulting in a u-turn in BCC's decades-long view that the historic parkland was the 'curtilage' of Stoke Lodge. As a result, officers enabled the school to put up its fence with no planning application.
The actions of Council officers are now under investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman. Find out more on our Videos page.
Please click here to learn about why We Love Stoke Lodge has submitted an application for Town or Village Green status.
The application is now in process but will take many months to complete.
Please click here to read the notes from our meeting with Cotham School on 14 September 2018. This link also takes you to lots of other background reading.
Please click here to see a copy of the letter from our MP following that meeting. A huge thank you to Darren Jones for his time and support in seeking compromise solutions.
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 June 2018 Bristol City Council refused a planning application for an 80 person changing facility due to the lack of a transport plan. The school refused requests from the Council to discuss a plan for transport on three occasions. This was the 2nd application that has been rejected for the same reason; Cotham School appealed the decision and it was rejected again in May 2019. The Planning Inspectorate stated that coach traffic to the site is already inconvenient and dangerous, that the situation is made worse by the newly-erected fence which channels traffic to specific entry point on a narrow residential cul de sac, and would get worse still with an expanded pavilion.
The community welcomes a new application that is in keeping the setting of a beautiful Grade II listed site and has a viable transport plan.
Stoke Lodge has a number of very well trodden paths. A huge thanks to all of you who completed a Witness Statement to support the PROW application - we think it will be the biggest application the council has ever seen!
We will update you once we have a date for the PROW application to be heard. There is a significant backlog - we have been told that it may be the end of 2020 before the application is heard. In the meantime the school has built a fence across the claimed public footpaths.