Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan consultation on submitted Neighbourhood Plan

Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan

11 Community assets and facilities

Primary objective
Protect, maintain and enhance Open Spaces, Rights of Way and pathways for walking and cycling.
Celebrate and sustain the strengths, cohesion and inclusion of the diverse communities of the area.

11.1 Community Organisations
Sustaining the longstanding sense of identity and community is a key aim of the strong network of community organisations – with over fifty active groups in Pill & Easton-in-Gordano and a further eight groups in Abbots Leigh.(49).

In Pill there are women’s, men’s and mixed organisations addressing a range of age groups. Groups meet for sport and exercise, culture and arts, music and dance, and simply ‘getting together’ for coffee, tea or lunch. There is strong support for younger children and older people. The Community Forum supports many of these local groups through the award of grants funded with support from the parish council. There are also important community wide events – the monthly Community Market, the annual Pill Rag, an annual music festival, the annual Regatta, the Orchard Wassail, Arts Festival, Christmas Lights and Pill in Bloom. The long-standing historic churches of the area – Holy Trinity, Christ Church, the Methodist Church, and St. George’s play an important part in sustaining community welfare.

In Abbots Leigh there are a number of similar groups – exercise, heritage, wildlife, artists. All residents are members of the Civic Society which runs a programme of village events throughout the year - New Year’s Brunch, Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Drinks Party, Festival in the Field, Bonfire Night, and Children’s Christmas Party.

(49) Details of community organisations and their use of community buildings is given in an Appendix to Neighbourhood Plan Background Paper 8

11.2 Community Infrastructure
Buildings: Activities such as those listed above are held in a range of community spaces which include Abbots Leigh Village Hall, Lodway Cricket Club, Pill Methodist Church Hall, Miller’s Close, Pill Community Centre, Salvation Army Hall, St. John Ambulance Hall, St George’s Church Hall (and Scout Hut), and Pill Memorial Club. These community spaces are under varying ownership and management, have varied levels of space and facilities, and operate under varying financial arrangements. The Community Centre is owned by Pill & Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council. The Village Hall in Abbots Leigh is owned and run by the Parish Council with a resident caretaker. Most buildings are used regularly, some several days a week, the Pill Memorial Club throughout the day.

The Community Centre lies within the old 1843 school building. It is the most heavily used space in the area in terms of the range of organisations. The Centre is the home for the monthly market, a weekly café and play group and the Youth Club, together with providing space for a wide range of community activities. There are rooms for meetings or public events. Adjoining the Community Centre is Christ Church, also a useful space for local events and meetings. Ideas have emerged about the potential redevelopment of the two buildings and their integration into a smaller church, community centre and café, with some housing fitted into a multi-use community hub. The Parish Church Council and the Pill & Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council are asked to investigate any long-term development possibilities.

11.3 Other Community Services:
Several of the pubs, including the Memorial Club, serve meals. There is a café at Brackenwood Garden Centre and Penny Brohn, whilst St Katherine’s School offers a weekly evening restaurant meal during term time in their hospitality training room. This is the only public restaurant in the UK run by a secondary school.
There are other parts of the Neighbourhood Area where local services are available, one with a doctors’ surgery, garage and hardware shop, another with a second Co-operative store and the anticipated new rail station. There are three churches and six public houses across Pill & Easton-in-Gordano but no community services in Abbots Leigh other than Holy Trinity Church and the George Inn.

11.4 Communication
There are a variety of channels of communication which support the exchange of information across communities. Both parish councils have notice boards, a web-site, a monthly newsletter - the Pill Village Voice and the Abbots Leigh Link, both delivered to all households. There is a widely used Pill Facebook group (the Daily Pill) with over 3,000 subscribers posting news, sharing information and inviting comment and discussion. The windows of the Post Office and the Resource Centre as well as telegraph poles are widely used to post messages. These various media outlets carry parish news, dates and venues of community meetings, and requests for assistance of all kinds. Their regularity and reliability do much to sustain community cohesion.

The digital future will be one that makes full or part-time working from home even more normal than it has become under COVID-19. Social and economic connectivity and digital fibre connection of high quality to home and workplace (FTTP) will continue to be of growing importance. The planning system needs to be fully supportive of the new normal home-based employment.

11.5 Open Space
There is much highly valued public open space within the Neighbourhood Plan Area, some of it jointly run by North Somerset Council, the Parish Councils and/or community groups. Such spaces across the Area are well used, valued and contribute to community wellbeing offering provision for recreational and leisure use and generating environmental and biodiversity benefits (see Maps 11 and 12).

Map 11 Open Spaces Pill and Easton-in-Gordano

pill map 11

Map 12 Open Spaces Abbots Leigh

pill map 12

Local Green Space (NSC designated)
Watchhouse Hill (with Green Flag status) incorporating the Pill Community Orchard is owned by North Somerset Council and managed by a joint council/community committee. (10.29 ha); used for recreation and events.
Abbots Pool is a woodland area for walking, cycling and fishing, jointly owned by NSC, Forest England and managed by a joint NSC/community committee. It is a recognised Local Green Space with Green Flag status. (3.91 ha).
Hardwick Road (formally called Yew Tree Gardens) in Easton-in-Gordano is an NSC owned play space and a football pitch. (2.3 ha).
Crockerne Pill (often referred to as Waterloo Wharf); a grassed area adjoining the historic pill leading to the River Avon (0.29 ha); used for picnics and events.
Victoria Park in Pill running from the precinct to Pill Creek, is jointly owned by North Somerset Council and the Parish Council. (0.221 ha).
Macrae Road land north of Macrae Road, Ham Green (1.16 ha.); used for recreation.

Community Leisure, Recreation and Play Spaces
Leigh Woods Forestry England/National Trust open access walking and cycling land including the Avon Gorge SSSI and Paradise Bottom arboretum.
Priory Fields, including the designated Town Green lying between Pill and Martcombe is widely used for walking. (designated as a Town Green).
The Old School Field in Abbots Leigh is leased to Abbots Leigh Parish Council by North Somerset Council and is used for leisure, play and village events.
Brookside in Pill is similarly owned by North Somerset Council and managed by Pill & Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council.
The Pill Foreshore offers views of the River Avon with a recently improved riverside walking opportunity.
Jenny’s Meadow An SSSI Grassland and Meadow site close to the Avon belongs to Pill & Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council but is managed by a small group of volunteers.
Court Hay Field, owned by St. George’s Church is the home of St George’s Football Club, with the Pavilion and Scout Hut leased by the Trustees of the Court Hay Trust.
Easton-in-Gordano cricket club (located at Martcombe in Easton, and Lodway cricket club (in Ham Green),
The 5-acre Pill Allotments site is owned by the Parish Council but is let to and managed by the Pill Allotments Association under a lease which is reviewed and renewed every ten years. There are 124 plots of varying sizes, rented to 94 named members/plot holders from the community.

All these Open Spaces are of value with regard to their contribution to the townscape, character, setting and visual attractiveness of the Neighbourhood Area and make an important contribution to the network of open spaces.(50) Development proposals affecting these spaces would have a detrimental effect on green infrastructure and, whilst ineligible for Local Green Space designation, should be protected and retained for community use. Proposals which enhance and improve existing community facilities and/or Open Space will be supported as will new facilities, providing they are compatible with existing neighbourhood uses.

Much of the land in Abbots Leigh along Beggar Bush Lane is devoted to sport and recreation – the new Bristol Bears rugby training ground, Cotham Park Rugby Club, Bristol Real Tennis Club, Clifton College Sports Ground, Abbots Leigh Cricket Club. This land is Green Belt and thus protected from housing development but there remains potential for leisure, sport and outdoor recreation.(51)

(50) See NPPF para 114 and NPPG para.4.45
(51) Subject to NSC Core Strategy CS 27Club, with the Pavilion and Scout Hut leased by the Trustees of the Court Hay Trust.

11.6 Play and recreation
Our survey of community buildings highlighted that whilst there are a number of facilities which support parents (mainly mothers) and young children, there are gaps in what is available to older young people aged 15-25. The Youth Club fills a gap for all youth ages, but it is important that both indoor and outdoor play and recreation space is maintained and enhanced. Play and Recreation are also central to health and wellbeing (para 11.7 below) and offer support to mental health, social inclusion and community cohesion.

The list of Open Spaces (para 11.5 above) includes several sports facilities – Hardwick Road, Court Hay Field and Macrae Road as well as the two cricket grounds at Lodway and Martcombe and it is crucial to leisure and play opportunities for young people that these be retained. Greenspace at Victoria Park, Crockerne Pill, Brookside and Hardwick Road provide further play opportunities for younger children.

11.7 Public Services

St. Katherine’s Secondary School has 780 pupils with plans to grow to 1,000. Intake is from over 50 primary schools with St. Katherine’s being first choice for parents locally, in neighbouring admissions areas and Bristol (from where 70% of pupils come). St. Katherine’s is now one of three secondary schools in the Cathedral Schools Trust.

Crockerne Church of England Primary School in central Pill has become a member of the Kaleidoscope Academy Trust based in Weston. Crockerne has a nursery entry of around 50 and a pupil population of over 300. 8.5% of pupils are on free school meals and 11.6% have Special Educational Needs. Many pupils move on to St. Katherine’s but some also to Bristol and to Gordano secondary sector.

Health and Wellbeing
Neighbourhood Plans can address health and wellbeing in a variety of ways - tackling pollution, encouraging healthy eating, improving access to open space, encouraging walking and cycling, designing health developments, supporting the use of public spaces and community buildings.(52) Many of these activities are identified elsewhere in this Plan.

Heywood Family Practice has 6,700 patients drawn from Pill, Easton-in-Gordano, Abbots Leigh, Failand and Portbury. It employs 30 staff (largely part-time), including seven (part-time) doctors, a nursing staff of five, and also receptionists, dieticians, and admin and clerical staff. The Practice has become one of five in a new primary care network which will bring economies of scale, new specialisations and the employment of additional staff. Across the network social prescribers work to assist socially isolated patients in many ways where a healthcare professional is not required thus freeing up valuable time. Three staff offer outreach and contact with isolated patients (e.g. home visits, triage to services). In the same way the network plans to recruit physiotherapists, care co-coordinators and pharmacy technicians working across the network.

There is a dental practice on the Eden Business Park, an 80 bed Care Home in Abbots Leigh and a centre supporting people with learning disabilities (Freeways). One of the major projects proposed for the area is a new 60 bed care home at Ham Green.(53)

Fire and Rescue
Pill Fire station, one of 21 stations in the Avon Fire and Rescue Service, is in a group of five stations (Pill, Clevedon, Weston super Mare, Blagdon and Winscombe). Pill Fire station is crewed by fifteen retained duty firefighters, many holding full time jobs elsewhere. Staff must live or work within five minutes of the station bringing a strong community focus to work in and with the community. In Pill, the Fire Station is central to the village and there are close community links, not least because retained staff live locally.

Police and Community Safety
The Abbots Leigh and Pill/Easton-in-Gordano parishes lie within the Redwood beat of the Avon and Somerset Police Area. There is a police presence in the area but no police station in Pill, with the nearest police station in Portishead. Crime rates in the Area are low by comparison with other parts of the police area. Nevertheless, there are local priorities - vehicle crime in Leigh Woods and anti-social behaviour in Pill (noise, harassment, nuisance, rowdy or inconsiderate neighbours, vandalism, graffiti) addressed in part by the issue of Community Protection Warnings.

In relation to planning and development, community safety is addressed through Secured by Design, a national police crime prevention initiative to reduce crime at the design stage and to introduce security into the built environment, for example through natural surveillance, landscaping and lighting.

(52) National Association of Local Councils 2019. Neighbourhood Planning and Community Health and Wellbeing
(53) See also Chapter 5 Housing and Chapter 8 Economy and Employment

11.8 Social Inclusion
The contribution of such public services is especially crucial in supporting the welfare of vulnerable, protected or sheltered residents. A number of the policies identified in this Plan - for housing, for transport, for employment and for community (organisations and buildings) - will make public services more accessible for older people, for young children and for people with disabilities. The proposal for a new care home at Ham Green will meet the needs of older local residents both from the Neighbourhood Area but also from a wider population catchment across North Somerset. Making it easier to reach and use the Precinct is an important priority.

With some parts of the Neighbourhood Area displaying deprivation levels more severe than any other parts of North Somerset outside Weston-Super-Mare it is important that planning policies take into account the incidence of social and economic deprivation and address the specific needs of vulnerable and minority groups

11.9 The Pill Precinct
Improvement Area 4 The Pill Precinct
The Pill Precinct is a hub for the village and surrounding areas. It is often thought of as the forecourt in front of the Baltic Place shops on Heywood Road, but a wider definition used for the Neighbourhood Plan includes Pill Street, Bank Place, Victoria Park (an NSC Local Green Space) as far as the railway bridge and Mount Pleasant (see Map 13).

Map 13 Pill Precinct

Pill Precinct

The Precinct is the nearest local shopping centre for the whole Neighbourhood Area and is a North Somerset Council designated ‘service village’. It is felt by local people to be accessible, convenient, familiar - a place to do local shopping and to have a chat. Despite these advantages, however, the Pill Precinct has long been recognised as needing improvement. Community surveys (at the Pill Rag, through the Daily Pill, via a business survey) confirm the widely held view that the Precinct is tired, drab, outdated, untidy and needing modernisation.

The main Heywood Road is dominated by an unattractive brick frontage and Pill Street is a mess of untidy parking with an absence of greenery throughout. There is a lack of variety in the available shops and a perception that the two retail sites – Baltic Place and Bank Place – are disconnected. Pedestrians have difficulty in crossing Heywood Road to and from the Precinct, and local consultation highlighted the need for an additional zebra crossing.

An attractive Precinct is crucial for local residents and for local business. Local stakeholders – the Parish Council, Alliance Homes, North Somerset Council and the local community – have come together to establish links through which the ownership and management of land and property across the precinct area can be reviewed and improvements planned and implemented. A review of the area has identified matters which can be addressed within a year, issues which require some thought and resources, and finally ‘blue sky’ ideas which may be possible in the longer term. The future has been explored through a local survey and also by a joint Alliance Homes/parish council/community ‘walkabout.’

Key issues which emerged include:
• Traffic management, including parking on Heywood Road, Pill Street and Victoria Park.
• The absence of greenery, and the potential of green walls, flower beds and planters.
• Tidiness and cleanliness, together with the location and screening of bins.
• Improved linkage between the retail areas of Baltic Place and Bank Place.
• Opening up Pill Street, and Victoria Park.
• Better signage and local information boards


Existing North Somerset Core Strategy and Development Management Policies already in place address Supporting Healthy Living (CS26), Smaller settlements and Countryside (CS33)

Planning Policies

CAF 1 (and Env 2)
The Open Spaces listed in 11.5 and shown on Maps 11 and 12 should be protected, maintained and enhanced. Proposals for development thereon should demonstrate that they would not hinder access nor harm amenity value.

Proposals for enhancement of the amenity and accessibility of Improvement Area 4 – the Pill Precinct as shown in Map 13 - will be supported.

Proposals for further sport/recreation uses on Beggar Bush Lane will be supported.

Community Action Policies

CA/CAF 1 Continued financial and other support to community organisations, the Community Centre and other community spaces should be sought.