A Bristol land used to be a park until a school four kilometres away leased it for its sports lessons.
According to the locals, they have objected to the fence placed put in place due to safety concerns.
According to We Love Stoke Lodge, a group supporting public access of the land at Stoke Lodge, the £65,000 fence, which has been flagged as the “Berlin wall” of Bristol, robs them of the “last bit of open green space” locally.
In 1947, the field was owned by the council for educational use and Cotham School shared the field with the local community without any issue. However, eight years ago, the school started to build a fence to extend its space for sports lessons and matches. Since then, the installation of the fence has received opposition over many years.
A petition saying that the fence needs planning permission received over 4,000 signatures. According to a campaign group, the council bended the law by letting school build the fence under development rights instead of having it go through the legal process of getting the planning permission.
According to campaigner Helen Powell, “If there had been a proper application process and if councillors had heard all the arguments and had decided that a fence could go up, well, that’s the democratic process for you.”
The locals also worry about the treatment of trees inside the fences, and many of them demanded for the protection of these trees.
In 2011, Cotham School had 125-year lease with Bristol City Council, and the lease was taken out for the site. The school used it for the first few years but later moved to a sports centre nearby due to concerns over the place being open to the public and dogs for access.
There was previously a battle over the land being protected under Town and Village Green legislation. However, the school won in the High Court.