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FAQ’s Hartcliffe City Farm

Posted on 9th June 2021

Heart of BS13 and Windmill Hill City Farm are joining forces to create a new venture that will build Hartcliffe City Farm into a thriving hub of community activity. Since we announced that we were preferred bidders for the site we have had a great deal of interest and many questions.

We’ve put together some answers to the questions we are being asked.  If you have more questions, then drop us an email and we’ll make sure we respond.

Question:  Do you have a lease for Hartcliffe Farm? 

Answer:  No, not yet.  We have solicitors undertaking due diligence enquiries about the land and properties on the land.  Both organisations have a professional obligation to fully understand any risks associated to the site before we can enter into any contractual agreement with the council to take on the site.

Question:  Does that mean you might not take on the lease for Hartcliffe Farm?

Answer:  That is always a possible outcome.  If the due diligence findings come back telling us that there is a significant risk in taking on the site, then we would not take it on.

Question:  When will you have a lease?

Answer:  As we write this (beginning of June 2021) we don’t yet know. Taking on a lease is a complicated business. The site needs to be clear; a new company needs to be set up to take the lease; the lease terms and conditions have to be negotiated and agreed; and all of it has to go through lawyers to make sure it’s done properly.

Question:  Why wouldn’t you take on existing tenants if you do become leaseholders?

Answer:  The old Hartcliffe Farm model failed. It was built on small groups of private tenants paying rent to the leaseholders.  Private tenants bring obligations to the main leaseholder and occupy building and site space that cannot be considered for new innovation and development.  In order to give the best chance of future success to the site, the council offered the asset transfer in Vacant Possession.  This means with no existing people or businesses on it.  That is what we bid for.

Question:  Who has given agreement for Windmill Hill City Farm and Heart of BS13 to become the preferred option to take over Hartcliffe Farm?

Answer:  Bristol City Council own the land. They ran a Community Asset Transfer process with an open call for interest in the site. Our partnership was chosen by them to take forward options for the site. They are the only body who can give agreement to what happens to the land.

Question:  Why can’t the community decide who takes the Farm over?

Answer:  The transfer has to be fair and transparent and each party who bid for it had to go through the same process. It was like an exam, and the documents had to be ‘judged’ by a panel from Bristol City Council against the same criteria. If members of the local community were making that decision, then the risk would be that they would favour people they know and make decisions that were based on personal relationships rather than likelihood of making the new farm site a success.

Question:  Why have you changed the name to Hartcliffe City Farm?

Answer:  We need to register the farm under a new name with the Charity Commission and Companies House so that it is clear that the farm is a new entity and not associated with the old tenants and board of trustees.

Question:  What community engagement work are you doing to gather people’s opinions about what should happen on the farm?

Answer:  Our bid to the local authority proposes many exciting ideas and options for the development of the space over the coming years.  It will be our opportunity to build a city farm for the 21st Century and we will focus on creating opportunities for the BS13 community through volunteering, vocational training and jobs in the green economy and low-carbon sectors as well as offering a wide range of new and fresh visitor attractions.

Over the years, Hartcliffe Farm has become a run-down and neglected asset and it is our job to take it in an exciting direction for the whole community. 

Community Engagement:

What this means

What it does not mean