Friends of Troopers Hill
Stepping Forward Project
Improving Troopers Hill
We made an application to Groundwork UK for funding from the Big Lottery through their Community Spaces Programme in October 2010 and (as announced at our 2010 AGM) we were successful in the first stage.
During 2011 we ran a public consultation and commissioned an ecological survey; these were funded by a £1000 development grant (more details below). Once this was complete we were able to prepare our Stage 2 application.
Our Stage 2 application was submitted on 29th September 2011. The final application was for £32,146.80.
On 15th November we received our award letter with the sum awarded being £30,504.89. This included the full sum that we had asked for on capital works, but they had scaled down the ammount for the celebration events and publicity. We still though have sufficient for a celebration in Octover 2012 by which time the works will be complete.
The Stepping Forward Project has been funded through the Community Spaces programme. The Community Spaces grants programme is being managed by Groundwork UK as an Award Partner to the Big Lottery Fund. Community Spaces is part of the Big Lottery Fund's Changing Spaces initiative.
Stage 2 Application - September 2011
Our Stage 2 application for £32,146.80 was submitted on 29th September 2011.
The proposals are to:
- improve existing steps and paths on Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve.
- make Troopers Hill easier to reach by reducing the mud on Troopers Hill Field
- provide some information about the woodland paths to publicise their existence
- improve the steps from the Field to the Woodland.
Detailed plans for the work to the steps were prepared and put out to tender by the Council. The prices we received formed part of our stage 2 application. These prices were lower than expected meaning that we have been able to include other items in our application.
Applying for grants takes a lot of time and effort. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who returned the questionnaire in the consultation and those who signed up to our supporters list. Also to those organisations, including Bristol Parks, who sent us letters of support. The final application was put together with the help of our Community Spaces facilitator, Ruth Allen, and required over 60Mb of documents to be sent by email. The fact that we could demonstrate support from both the community and Bristol City Council as landowners was an important part of our bid.
Public Consultation 4th March to 8th May 2011
The Community Spaces Programme awarded us a development grant of £1,000 part of which was to carry out further consultation.
The consultation ran from 4th March to 8th May 2011 and was a chance for local people and users of Troopers Hill to give their views. We distributed over 1900 printed questionnaires and ran several consultation sessions. There was also an online version of the questionnaire on this website.
We had 75 online responses and 392 manual responses, which were keyed into Survey Monkey by one of our volunteers. We are very pleased with this response which at over 20% response is excellent.
We were particularly pleased at the level of support with over 95% supporting improving the steps and 94% wanting the entrances and the Field made less muddy. Over 86% supported waymarking a woodland trail and the need for this was shown by the fact that although over 93% of responses came from people living within 15 minutes of the Hill 97 people said they didn't know the paths existed. Over 72% of those who expressed an opinion thought that Troopers Hill was better now compared with 5 years ago. A report on the responses we received can be seen via the link below.
Download pdf Report of Consultation Responses
Photos of Consultation Events and Display Boards
The final design details have taken account of the results of the consultation. Given the high level of support we have not made many changes. However, we have taken account of the fact that several people did not want the site to become too 'park like'. We have decided not to use the mesh we considered for the steps and the cross drain at the top of the steps will be formed as a gap between sleepers rather than using a grid.
One suggestion we received was for more play equipment in the Field; we cannot do this with the Community Spaces money but we could apply for another grant for this in the future. We will also use comments made in this consultation as support for a future application.
A copy of the questionnaire that we distributed can be seen here but please note that it is now too late to take part.
Consultation events with more information on display were held as below:
Tuesday 22nd March 7pm-9pm at the St George Neighbourhood Partnership Forum, Air Balloon Primary School.
Saturday 26th March, 11am-2pm at the Community Fair, St Aidans Church, Fir Tree Lane
Saturday 2nd April, 2pm - 5pm a drop in session at the Summerhill Methodist Church (next to the Air Balloon pub)
Sunday 3rd April, 3pm a guided walk on the Hill. Meet at the Malvern Rd entrance to Troopers Hill Field
Friday, 22nd April, 11am-1pm in a gazebo, during and after the Good Friday service at the top of Troopers Hill
There was also a report on the consultation in the local paper: Report in Bristol Evening Post 14 April 2011 >>
If you would like more information, please contact us.
Ecological Survey - Spring 2011
The development grant also funded an ecological survey.
You can see the brief for the ecological survey here. The survey was carried out by Rupert Higgins of Wessex Ecological Consultancy. Rupert has been involved with Troopers Hill for many years through the Photo Survey and has led a number of Bugs & Beasties hunts for us.
Rupert produced an interim report in March and his final report in June, they can be downloaded via the links below.
Stage 1 Award - December 2010
We were pleased to announce that we had been successful at Stage 1 at our AGM and Review of the Year in December 2010.
Following the award, Groundwork UK appointed a facilitator, Ruth Allen, who worked with us in this phase to put together the Stage 2 application by the deadline of 30 September 2011.
The stage 1 award also included £1000 as development grant for the public consultation and the ecological survey as described above.
Stage 1 Application - October 2010
The Stage 1 application was for an estimated project value of £32,320.00 and was submitted with the support of Bristol Parks.
The plans were discussed at our meeting in September 2010 prior to the application being submitted. A major part of the works will be to rebuild the steps shown in the photos on this page to reduce the height of the individual steps. There will also be improvements to other paths and we hope to be able to install some land-drains in the Field.
We are determined to keep the wild feel of the hill; the surfacing of the steps will be appropriate for a nature reserve. We will not be installing handrails or any concrete or tarmac paths.
The Community Spaces Programme provides funding for 'physical and lasting' works to 'improve green, open spaces to enhance people’s quality of life' 75% of the grant has to be spent on capital works. We also wanted to keep the application under £50,000 to qualify as a medium grant rather than a large grant (which we would have been less likely to receive).
These are the questions and answers which formed part of the first stage application:
Do you have a name for your project?
Troopers Hill Stepping Forward
Please provide a short description of your project
Troopers Hill Local Local Nature Reserve is situated just two miles from the centre of the City of Bristol in the largely residential area of St George. It is unique in Bristol as a hillside covered in heathland and acid grassland. On the top there is a grade 2 listed chimney and from there is a wonderful view over Bristol.
Friends of Troopers Hill was formed in 2003 and has been working with Bristol Parks to improve the site and encourage local residents to use it, respect it and learn more about its wildlife and history.
Through this project we want to improve the paths and particularly the steps across the hill to ease and encourage the use of the site by older people and those with lower fitness levels. We wish to do this while maintaining the wild feel of the site.
The funds will pay for work to address a number of specific problem areas that currently discourage use of the site. We also want to add some waymarking to routes through the woodland and will consult with local residents and other site users on the details for this. We aim to produce leaflets to show available routes and a small part of the money will be used to pay for a celebration event when the work is completed
Tell us about the current condition of the project site
Troopers Hill LNR is Bristol's only Green Flag winning nature reserve. Management over the last few years has focused mainly on the wildlife habitat. To improve access a wheelchair path and some benches have been installed. However, the paths on most of the site have had no significant improvement work since the early 1990s. Some steps are uneven and some very high, this makes much of the site inaccessible to many people. In addition one of the main access routes is across a playing field at the top of the hill, parts of this become very muddy in winter.
Explain how you know that people in your community want this project.
In a 2003 survey the condition of the footpaths came second behind dogs not on leads/dog mess in things people liked least about Troopers Hill. People specifically mentioned 'unsafe steps' and the field being muddy.
The condition of the steps has regularly been raised at Friends of Troopers Hill meetings.
Several walking for health and other groups have visited the site, they tell us they would use it more if the steps and other problem areas were improved. One their organisers said "I am sure completion of this work would attract groups that have yet to visit Troopers Hill as well as opening up more of the site to existing walkers".
What changes will happen in the community as a result of this project?
We want as many local people as possible to to be able to use Troopers Hill LNR and to benefit from this unique piece of wildlife habitat in Bristol. This project will improve access and increase use particularly by Walking for Health Groups. It will make it easier for routes to be planned visiting other nearby green spaces. Once people have experienced Troopers Hill on group walks we hope they will return and perhaps also get involved in our practical work to improve the hill.
Who will this project help?
The project will help everyone who uses Troopers Hill LNR however it will be of particular benefit to older people and those who are less physically active.
St George has a population of nearly 24,000.
St George is surrounded by further residential areas. Some of the most deprived areas of Bristol are within two miles of the site. Working with Walking for Health Groups and others we aim to encourage more use of the site by people living in these areas.
How long do you expect the project to take to complete?