Balancing the Cultural Dominoes

This thought may not be original, but it crystallised for me last weekend:

There is a piece in last Saturday’s Grauniad about Leipzig where it says (with my emphasis):

“Gushing reports of (Leipzig’s) thriving creative scene, green spaces and quality of living have earned the place the nickname Hypezig, and some locals fear its reputation as “the better Berlin” may attract private investors, and drive up property prices.  Plagwitz….illustrates the city’s transformation. Once a soot-covered industrial suburb dotted with the chimneys of metalwork shops, it has cleaned up its act but not lost its crooked charm. Buildings on the main thoroughfare, Karl-Heine-Strasse have almost all been renovated, but without losing their sense of history. Some of them may now house galleries and ice-cream parlours that sell strawberry and lavender sorbet, but family businesses such as Schicketanz butchers and Seidel’s bakery will keep the area grounded.”

It’s an eternal challenge: how one addresses dereliction and brings about improvement, but without destroying character, quirkyness and everything else of value.  Maybe Leipzig illustrates that it is about balance – always difficult to achieve but eminently preferable once you get there (lots of bicycle metaphors).

My fear of the Fifth Capital scheme is that it is an unbalanced domino – the first of many that could fall.  It will bring in the big developers and the corporates.  After them it will be Hamilton House, then other blocks of property and before we know it Stokes Croft will be just another high value street in Bristol.  The so called cultural quarter will be no more, and the international reputation of the area will be history.  The Knightstone scheme offers something very different that fits and helps balance the whole street.  That’s what we’re fighting for – not just the redevelopment of one site.

Julian (opionions above are my own, not necessarily those of CAG)

Community Meeting 13th October 6pm

We’ll be having a community meeting at 6pm on Monday 13 October 2014 most probably at the Salvation Army on Ashley Road.

This will be a chance to find out more about the redevelopment proposals for the site and to have your say on what you think should happen.

We’ll send a reminder to our mailing list nearer the time with more details of the meeting.

Lost the plot?

In case you’ve lost track of who’s who and what’s what, here are some quick links to the key information:

  • The Community Vision – 1600 people contributed their thoughts on the future of the site, resulting in the Community Vision being launched in March 2012. Read more….
  • Compulsory Purchase – after more than 25 years of dereliction the Council agreed to compulsoraly purchase the site from the owners, Comer Homes.  Read more…
  • The preferred developer – in December 2013, having gone through a lengthy selection process, Knighstone were named the preferred developer for the site.  Read more and see their scheme…
  • New kids – out of the blue, early in 2014 a London developer, Fifth Capital, buys ‘a controlling interest’ in the site and says they’ll develop it.  Read more…
  • Knightstone reconfirm their commitment – In August Knightstone release a statement saying they are “still very keen and committed to the project, working in partnership with the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG) and the Council to regenerate the site in a way that meets the Community Vision”  Read more….
  • Stories of Westmoreland House – CAG and Montpelier Conservation Group are exploring the history of Westmoreland House when it was working offices. Get in touch if you worked there.  Read more…

Hope to see you in October!

Lori and Julian

Stokes Croft Festival of the Arts


The inaugural Stokes Croft Festival of the Arts showcases the rich vein of creativity that permeates our area. You are invited to come and spend some time in the local streets and venues to experience some of our weekly activities. From the Bear Pit in the south to Boston Tea Party in the north, from The Cube cinema in the west to Picton Street in the east, there will be music, studio art, street art, performance art, film, workshops, food, drink and even guerrilla gardening. So come on down – it’s free and there’s plenty of room for everybody.

Knightstone update

We’ve just received this statement from Knightstone:

“Soon after Knightstone’s selection as the City Council’s preferred development partner for the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site in November 2013 we learnt that the private developer, Fifth Capital, had secured a legal interest in the site. Since then we have been closely monitoring their progress in drawing up redevelopment proposals in preparation to make a planning application.

“Knightstone is still very keen and committed to the project, working in partnership with the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG) and the Council to regenerate the site in a way that meets the Community Vision. Whilst Fifth Capital is targeting to submit a planning application in autumn 2014 we are currently in discussions with the Council about how we may progress our redevelopment proposals further if Fifth Capital’s planning application does not proceed.

“We will issue a further update in the autumn about our next steps and hope to agree on a way forward with the Council and CAG within the next few weeks.”

Bristol Post article

Bristol Post have an article today about the Fifth Capital proposals.

We understand the Post was briefed in person by John Assael, the very genial founder and chairman of Assael, the architects for the scheme.  Assael was contender for presidency of the RIBA until he withdrew his candidature in May.

How on earth did Fifth Capital afford his fees for the day!

‘Carriageworks Community News’ – confused?

A leaflet that has been delivered through doors around Stokes Croft is clearly causing some confusion, not least because it is titled “Carriageworks Community News”.

For the avoidance of doubt, the leaflet has nothing whatsoever to do with us, the Carriageworks Action Group.

The leaflet has been produced by London based company Fifth Capital. It has already been widely criticised for its number of errors. Just look at the street names. And try to date the photo; from the street art we think it’s circa 2006/07 – anyone else got other ideas?  Must have been hard to find a pic that old – where did they get it?!

In letters sent to some people inviting them to a private view of their proposals the evening before the public exhibition, Fifth Capital also suggest that they are working with Bristol City Council. But they’re not! The Council’s planners have to work them just as they have to work with anyone who wants to submit a planning application. But as far as we know, no one else in the Council is helping Fifth Capital work up their proposals.

The leaflet has been produced by a London PR Agency working for Fifth Capital London Limited.  Local people have pointed out that Fifth Capital:

  • has no website*
  • has no phone number**
  • works from a residential address***
  • has no track record
  • and has no money****

And yet they’re spending bucket loads on their PR campaign and planning application.

Someone must be funding them – the big question is, who?


* just has a holding page. The domain name was registered in November 2013. The brand identity was developed in December 2013. The holding page went live in early 2014.

** All phone contact is directed through the PR company.  Marc Pennick, the Director of Fifth Capital, has only given out a mobile phone number.

*** The website gives the address as 64A Randolph Avenue, London, W9 1BE which is in the affluent residential area of Maida Vale and does not look like a business property.

**** Their last published accounts 2012/13 give net assets of £5,983.

Fifth Capital leafleting the local area

A leaflet might soon be coming through your door telling you about development proposals for the Carriageworks and Westmorland House.

The leaflet may raise many questions in the minds of you and your neighbours, not least about who this new developer is and what has happened to the Knightstone scheme and the Community Vision.  Here are some answers:

Who is this new developer Fifth Capital?

Fifth Capital emerged in November 2013 just as the City Council appointed Knightstone as its preferred developer. They are a private London based company setup in 2011. Their 2013 accounts show net assets of £5,983.  Read more…

Have Fifth Capital built anything before?

We’ve been asking them this.  They haven’t sent us any evidence that they have built anything.  Read more…

Do they own the site?

No, the site is still owned by Comer Homes. But Fifth Capital tell us they have “a controlling interest”.  Read more…

Who’s behind Fifth Capital?

There is an impressive team of architects and consultants working with Fifth Capital. They claim to have already spent £400,000 on their fees. So who’s paying?  Read more…

What do they intend to build?

We understand that their current scheme shows that they will demolish Westmoreland House, build 116 mostly private flats and include some retail along Stokes Croft. Read more….

How do the proposals compare to the Community Vision?

From what we understand, some aspects are broadly in line with the Vision. But; there is no through route, there is little affordable housing, long term management arrangements are very vague and we don’t even know if Fifth Capital can or will actually develop the site themselves. Read more…

Have they submitted a planning application?

No, not yet. They are currently in a community involvement stage. They plan to submit a planning application in September / October 2014.

What’s happened to the Knightstone scheme?

Knightstone still want to develop the site and are supported by CAG.  Knightstone are working with Bristol City Council which could ultimately compulsorily purchase the site from the current owners. However, if Fifth Capital get planning permission it could make it much harder to get the compulsory purchase approved, and that would stop Knightstone going ahead.

Is CAG working with Fifth Capital?

No, because they haven’t demonstrated to us that they will deliver the Community Vision.

What happens next?

Fifth Capital’s PR agency, Four Communications, has told us that they are having an exhibition of the proposals in two weeks time. They will then finish working up their proposals and submit a planning application in September / October. They anticipate a planning decision in January 2015.

What is CAG doing?

We still want to see a scheme that embraces all aspects of the Community Vision. At this stage we really don’t know if Fifth Capital will build anything, or if they will sell the site with planning permission to someone else, or if they will dissolve into thin air once the site value has been increased. Fifth Capital say they will build the scheme themselves but so far they have not provided any evidence to show that they or their Directors have ever done anything like it before. We will keep trying to get answers to these questions. In the meantime we continue to liaise with Knightstone and the City Council with a view to the Knightstone scheme progressing.