Monday, 12 January 2009

Egregious Greenwash

First published on Green Bristol Blog Thursday, 18 September 2008

It can be a solitary business being a blogger. You dig here and there on the internet, extracting little nuggets of information to bolster your cynical observations on the ways of the world, but you rarely talk things through with real people. So when you finally click on the publish post tab extreme emotions are experienced for a few seconds. Are you making a valued contribution to human understanding - or a complete arse of yourself?

So it's very gratifying to get some positive feedback from time to time (hint), especially from such a respected source as Venue's Severn Bore column (well I'm a fan anyway). For those of you who have already read it and who have arrived here to find out more, I suggest you follow this link to run through the emerging story of "cycle" houses, clandestine land sales, deception and greenwash surrounding the proposed redevelopment of the Chocolate Factory site in Greenbank.

For the benefit of those who have not yet read the Venue piece, here it is -

If you're one of the 20 or so Bristolians who lurks in the local ishoos blogosphere, occasionally breaking cover to post comments ("Too right, m8, them counsellers are takin the piss"), you'll know that we've been pretty taken with an egregious bit of greenwash lately.

Briefly, Bristol (a Cycling City, don'tcha know) hopes to sell off penny packets of landholdings here and there to make ends meet. Meanwhile, a property development firm called Squarepeg, which proposes turning the former Greenbank chocs factory into flats, also unveiled plans for 'cycle houses' next to our famous and much-loved Railway Path. These would be on a thin strip of council-owned land between the chocolate factory and the path.

All this was uncovered by Chris Hutt in his Green Bristol Blog ( Not just the potential intrusion on to the path and the attendant grubbing up of a hedgerow, but he also took a close look at the designs of these trendy cycle houses put forward by Acanthus Ferguson Mann, whose ranks include the famously red-trousered George Ferguson, Bristol's patron saint of sustainable urban design.

Seems each cycle house would access the railway path via a set of steps - very handy if you've gotten home with a load of shopping. Not only that, but on the other side, they have garages as well. For cars!

As we go to press, nothing has yet had planning permission, a petition's been gotten up opposing the sale of the land by the path to developers, and there are now sketches of the proposed cycle houses, this time with ramps. Score one to some careful digging by an amateur, score no to greenwash.

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