Packer's Field

News: Update July 2006


Your Field Needs You


The campaign to keep Packers Field a free, open space for public use is still in progress. A public meeting has been arranged for July 17th at the City Academy, where the future of the field will be discussed. A lot of questions about the future of the field remain unanswered, specifically around public access and the final plans for the site. This meeting is an opportunity for members of the local community to inform and involve themselves. Any person who is interested in the future of Packers Field is strongly encouraged to attend this meeting, all are welcome. It is not too late to express your thoughts and concerns about this important local space.

Download a flyer for this meeting here (PDF File 41KB).

Packers Field is a valuable community resource. Looking at the field any evening or weekend you will see many people using the field for a wide variety of lawful leisure activities. As you may or may not know The City Academy, Bristol leases the field from Bristol City Council (BCC) and is now planning to develop the site.

It appears that this work to develop the field is going to start this month. The Academy has not been clear about whether the entire field would be closed during construction, but conceded that this was almost certainly going to be the case. The works covered in this initial phase are; major earth-moving to level the field; the laying of top soil and then reseeding in the Autumn. At the same time the Academy will be erecting fencing in the form of 6ft railings. The changing rooms won't be started on until next spring. The access for the contractors carrying out the work is going to be through Johnsons Lane rather than Gordon Road.

The bottom line is that this field will not be available for anyone until autumn 2007. After the work and the erection of the railings the Academy will have complete control of access onto the field. This means that free and open access is likely to stop this summer, probably just as the school holidays begin.

What is the future of Packers?

It is proving difficult to get answers from the Academy about the real future of Packers. Some key issues that local people have been concerned about ever since they heard about the Academy's proposals still remain unclear:

Where will the entrance be? Previously it was planned to have a new entrance off Gordon's Road, however recent information has proposed that cars and coaches will use the current entrance on Johnsons Lane. This appears to contradict one of the conditions of the planning permission, which stated that access would only be from Gordon Road. Does this mean that the Academy have changed the plans without telling anyone?

There is also the issue of the fencing. This was originally planned to be 8ft high, the Academy recently said the fencing would be 6ft railings. We believe that the fencing should be low-level anti-vehicle fencing. In fact at another school playing field site recently given planning permission by BCC the fencing is to be 3ft high country estate style fencing. If this is suitable for the new Fairfield school why is 6ft high fencing needed for Packers? There is also the issue of the potential athletics training facility (see below).

Community Use Agreement

The Academy is required to have in place a document called a "Community Use Agreement" which will define who can have access to Packers Field and when. The Community Use Agreement is meant to give the local community security of future use. The Academy have produced a draft document which has been reviewed and does not offer the community any such security. As a result it has been suggested to the Academy that a different Community Use Agreement is used that will clearly lay out how the Academy should give the local community free and open access to Packers Field. It is hoped that this alternative Community Use Agreement can be used as a starting point to gain agreement with the Academy. The actual CUA being proposed to the Academy is available on this website (click here). The basis of this alternative CUA is the demands of local people set out in February's public consultation (see below).

Planned use of Packers as an Athletics facility

Recent investigations have discovered that BCC are still proposing to locate an athletics training facility comprising a 6 lane, synthetic athletics track with floodlighting in the area in front of the pavilion. In fact Cllr Kiely stated that athletics would soon be back at Packers at the Academy meeting held in March.


During extensive research into the proposed development, we discovered what we felt were some potentially serious health and safety implications with the site, specifically the existence of abandoned mine works underneath the site. It also seems that the planning process had failed to address these issues adequately. We raised our concerns with the Health and Safety Executive, who were unable to assist as abandoned mines are not in their area of work. We also informed Bristol City Council and the City Academy, both of whom have demonstrated little interest. We feel that such potentially serious health and safety implications were being dismissed lightly, and are further alarmed and frustrated to find that there was no 3rd party to look at our concerns seriously and objectively (More specific information about this is available here).

Where Now?

A number of local residents and groups are monitoring the Academy's plans in order to secure a better result for the local community, ensure that this green space is not lost and so that local people can continue to use Packers. Some of these local people carried out a community consultation, which was presented to the Academy and local councillors. A petition asking for the points below was signed by nearly 85% of the 114 people that were asked:

  • Free, open access to the field at all times for informal recreation.

  • Dual / Multiple use between individuals, schools and sports clubs.

  • Genuine, open consultation of the local community by Bristol City Council & the City Academy.

We feel that to start developing the site now with so many unanswered questions about the plans, mines, athletics track and community use agreement is wrong and ignores the feeling of the local community. The meeting being held on 17th July is an opportunity to voice these concerns.