At our meeting on 2 December it was announced that Knightstone have been selected by the City Council as the preferred developer or the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House.
That may not sound like big news, given that Knightstone were the only contender, but in actual fact it has involved a huge amount of work on the part of Knightstone themselves in preparaing their final submission and officers of the Council in evaluating that submission, making sure not only that everything is compliant with the very lengthy procurement processes but also that the scheme will deliver what everyone wants.
The news was announced at the meeting by Jan Reichel, the project officer from Bristol City Council. Mike Day from Knightstone and Jonathan Platt the architect then summarised the proposals.
The Knightstone Proposals
The proposals are based on Option 3 which emerged during last summer’s consultation and see a linear park leading through the site from opposite the top of Picton Street, turning at a new square or market place behind the Carriageworks, and then rejoing Stokes Croft through two of the Carriageworks archways. On the ground floor facing Stokes Croft, Ashley Road and facing the linear park there will be retail and community uses. On the upper floors there will be flats, and a small amount of housing at the rear of the site. In total there will be 110 residential units with a mixture of tenures including affordable, market rent and market sale. The flats and houses will be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4.
The proposals retain the Grade II* Carriageworks, keeping as much of the interior as possible and adding (or replacing, depending upon how you interpret historic photos) a top floor.
No4 Ashley Road is listed but in extremely poor condition, even when viewed from a distance. A Planning Inspector has previously said that its demolition would be justifiable, and this is the course the Knightstone propose to take.
The intention for Westmoreland House, however, is for it to be retained – at least its structure will be mostly retained, the main differences being the removal of part of the rear and a raising of part of the top floor to the height of the lift and services block.
It should be noted that these proposals will inevitably change. To date no-one has been able to access the site for surveys, and this will not happen until early 2014. Also the comments of the planners have to be taken on board and viability constantly reappraised. So changes are inevitable but we will keep you informed as they emerge.
What happens next?
Early in the new year the City Council and Knightstone will get onto the site to carry out all the necessary surveys. Once they’ve got the information the architects will finalise the plans with the aim of submitting a planning application in the Autumn 2014. There will be further public consultation on the proposals in the late Spring / early Summer 2014.
At the same time the City Council will attempt to purchase the site from the owners through negotiation. If this proves unsuccessful then the City Council can seek to use compulsory purchase powers.
A new player?
At the meeting we heard that a company had approached the City Council saying that they had acquired an interest in the Carriageworks site. It’s not known what this interest is, if it relates to the whole site or part, or why they have left it until now to state their interest. But the important message is that the City Council is committed to working with Knightstone and acquiring the site to enable their scheme to go ahead. Anyone else would have to obtain planning permission and virtually be on site before there is any change in the Council’s direction.
The oral and visual history project
To wrap up the evening, another piece of great news. Montpelier Conservation Group have been given funding by the Heritage Lottery to run an oral history project about Wesmoreland House. It is a bit of a ghost building for while its presence is clearly felt in the area, there is little recorded history about its past. So the project is wanting to the record the memories of people who worked at Westmoreland House and will be keen to see any photographs that might still exist of the building in its prime – there are stories of a boardroom panelled with exotic hardwoods and marble floors! The project will be starting in January and will be training up local volunteers who are interested in recording people’s memories. To get in touch with the project email firstname.lastname@example.org