We met Fifth Capital

Members of CAG liaison group (Lori, Prue and Julian) today met with Marc Pennick of Fifth Capital and Assael Architecture to discuss the proposals for the Carriageworks.

The meeting was setup following the resolution of the Planning Committee on 8 April to defer a decision on the planning application pending discussions on a number of key issues.  The Committee specified that CAG should be involved in discussions on these issues.  The Community Vision is clear in stating that CAG will work with anyone who will deliver the Vision so we wanted to hear if Marc was now able to make sufficient changes to achieve this position prior to the more formal discussions with the planners.

At the beginning of the meeting we asked that we follow Chatham House rules i.e. we wouldn’t report exactly what any party said, just the overall outcome. This was so that we could all speak freely without fear of (mis)quotation.

The meeting seems to have been productive. Since the Planning Committee, Marc seems to understand the reasons behind local opposition. He is still determined to get planning permission but in order to do so is willing to look at a number of changes which he hopes will earn local support by addressing these concerns.

We explained the main concerns with his proposals and the sort of changes that we thought would be needed to bring the scheme much more in line with the Community Vision.

Quite whether Marc will be able to make sufficient changes remains to be seen, but he was willing to listen, suggest ideas and try to find common ground.  At the same time he is clear that the economics of the site must stack up if anything is to happen and that he won’t be able to give everything that we might want.

The formal process of three way discussions between the planners, Fifth Capital and CAG will take place probably after the elections. For the moment Marc is considering the changes that he could make. Depending upon the advice and requirements of the planners the changes may have to be the subject of another round of public consulation and comment before they go back to Committee.  We will also ensure that we hold a CAG Community Forum to examine and comment on the proposals.

We look forward to seeing Marc’s amended proposals.

What next, after the deferred decision?

Last night’s Planning Committee meeting came to a decision to defer a final decision on the Fifth Capital London proposals for the redevelopment of the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House sites.  Their reasons were based on the many unresolved planning issues that still need to be addressed.  These include:

  • The relationship (e.g. light and shadowing) with neighbouring buildings, especially Tucketts Building (108 Stokes Croft)
  • The overbearing elevation on Ashley Road
  • The contribution the scheme will make to improving the Ashley Road junction
  • Cycle parking for visitors
  • On site renewables – the need for alternative and more detailed proposals
  • The need for greater certainty about the use of the 5 non-housing units
  • A condition on the gates which are clearly shown in the drawings, but which now appear to be under question
  • The time period for development – Councillors want to see the site developed within a set period of time (probably of less than 3 years) at which work must start or any planning permission becomes invalid; and to see a positive intention to build, not just to get planning permission and then sell the site on at a profit.
  • The Equalities Impacts of the proposals

The issue of the need for affordable housing, including the provision of social housing for rent, was strongly advocated.  Some of the Councillors want to see Fifth Capital London working with a social housing partner.  So does CAG.  We recognise that this is a tricky in planning and policy terms.   But we will keep pushing this approach.

Councillors were clear that they expect planning officers to work with both the developer and CAG to improve the proposals.   They expressed the view that this is “vitally important”.  And they want all discussions to pay full attention to the Community Vision.

CAG remains committed to working with any developer who will deliver the Community Vision for the redevelopment of the Carriageworks site.   We see this – admittedly somewhat complicated and technical – decision as a win-win for both the community and the developer.   It offers a chance for the developer to look again at their scheme, and to work with CAG to make it better.

CAG remains resilient, optimistic and full of ideas about how to do this.  We have ideas about who to bring to the table so that we can work together to secure a scheme that meets local needs and is ambitious and viable.   Watch this space.

Lori

Carriageworks @ Bristol Planning Committee

This is a rough transcript of the Council’s planning meeting which started at 6pm on Wednesday 8 April 2015 and finished at 8:30pm. To read the notes start at the bottom and work upwards.


We’re knackered. Gone to the pub. Here’s to next time, after the election. [Note: next scheduled meeting for Development Control Ctte A is 15 July]


Chair. No other issues.

Vote on the recommentdation. 3 for. 7 against.  Chair: that doesn’t mean we refuse permission yet – it’s just a vote on the recommendation.

Chair: the many objections are understandable if not valid in planning terms. Heard Committee has many concerns. However, I don’t think refusal will stand at appeal. A lot of unresolved issues that we need to try to flesh out.  Going to propose that I want to defer and give Officers a list of issues to work on with applicants and CAG:

  1. Issue of cycle parking for visitors
  2. Haven’t seen to address relationship with 108 Stokes Croft
  3. Over bearing elevation on Ashley Road
  4. Lack of contribution to junction.
  5. Issue of Condition 27 – need greater certainty on use of units. Need clarify to make a judgement. Too much blank slate – need to know what uses go where.
  6. On-site renewables. Must consider alternatives and flesh out the options.
  7. Would like to see a condition on the gates.
  8. Expect officers to look at Condition 1 – want to see it developed and not standing as a ruin – want a positive intention to build and not just sell on at a profit.

Cllr Breckells: Look at affordable housing – need some affordable rent as well as shared ownership. Fail to see how with prices wanted that they can’t increase the amount of affordable. Chair disagrees – doesn’t want to reopen the issue – too risky.

Cllr Milestone: concerned at no budget on archaeology. (it’s a condition). And would like to see them working with a social housing partner.

Cllr Hance: can we beef up requirement to work with CAG? Chair: lets use time until next meeting to address concerns. Don’t want to be too specific. But vitally important that they work with CAG.

Vote: 8 in favour. 1 against. 1 abstention.

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Fifth Capital scheme is over valued

Analysis of the values put on their flats compared to local comparables show that Fifth Capital may have seriously over valued their scheme, to the point that it is not viable.

In their Viability Report, Fifth Capital follow standard procedure by calculating  the value of their flats by comparing them with others on the local market; ‘comparable valuation’. But just how comparable to Stokes Croft are these properties?  (Note that Fifth Capital’s one bed flats will be 500-600 sq ft)

finzelsreachFinzels Reach

Dockside development on the old Courage brewery site. “The height of contemporary living” with “views overlooking the Floating Harbour and Castle Park”. 1 bed flats for c.£175,000 – £225,000.

horizonandeclipseHorizon and Eclipse

In the towerblock at Cabot Circus above Harvey Nicks. “Some of the most desirable flats in Bristol city centre” 1 bed flats for £177,000 to £199,000.

invictaInvicta

“The location of these new apartments in Bristol is as stunning as the building, facing the Millennium Promenade and overlooking the Floating Harbour and Porto Quay.” 1 bed apartments for £160,000 to £190,000.

The Viability Report accepts that all of these are far superior to the Carriageworks site. So they also consider some properties in the local area for better comparables. Of those, five are one bed flats.

armidaleArmidale Place

Redevelopment of the old White Tree Garage site.  They quote a 1 bed flat (657 sq ft) for £227,000.  But look at Rightmove and you’ll see most go for £138,000 to £150,000 (485 sq ft). And that’s with secure basement parking.

pictonstreetPicton Street

Flat 1 at Number 50. Cited as a one bed flat at £217,500 but check Zoopla and it describes it as a 2 bed flat. Oops.  Rightmove shows 47a, a genuine one bed flat, for £136,000.

Others

The other three one bed flats listed are up in Kingsdown or Cotham where you obviously get a bit of a premium over grungy living at bottom of hill.

The Council’s assessment of the viability appraisal

As is normal practice the Council asked their own consultants, in this case BNP Parisbas, to assess the validity of the viability appraisal.  They thought that the best comparable is other new build (the newness, the hype of a new development and the substantial marketing budget will always give a boost to values). Consequently they could expect Armidale Place to have lower values than a new build.  They only found one comparable new build.

prospectcourtProspect Court, Kingsdown

“Prospect Court is a stylish purpose built development of just nine, 2 and 3 bedroom, apartments arranged over three floors designed to blend with the existing period properties. Located in a prime elevated position”.  There are no one bed flats but two beds (c720 sq ft) have sold for c.£245,000 (Fifth Capital’s are being valued at £250,000).  But this is a small quite exclusive development and, as the sales blurb says, it’s up the hill!

catherinecourtCatherine Court, Picton St

We’ll throw this one into the pot as it’s just across the road.  Built in the 1990s, it’s a gated community with parking. Units are being sold for £205,000 (2 bed flat with courtyard parking) to £265,000 (house with internal garage).

In conclusion

So, in light of the comparable evidence, it is a bit surprising that Fifth Capital conclude (and BNP Parisbas confirm) that their one bed flats will be worth £215,000 (students of Estate Management and Valuation would probably be marked down for failing to take proper account of the comparables!).

If the value was put at £150,000 (still outrageous, but there you are) it would result in a reduction in the total sale values of the 59 one bed flats of £3.8m.  A similar reduction for the two and three bed units (we haven’t the time to do that analysis but we’d guess they may also be over valued) would wipe out all profit on the scheme and, we suspect, make it a non-starter.  That doesn’t help a case for more affordable housing, but it does suggest that something else is going on in the figures that is not fully disclosed in the viability report.

Notes from the BBC Radio Bristol interview

This morning CAG Chair Lori Streich went on BBC Radio Bristol to talk about the Fifth Capital planning application.

In their introduction the BBC focused on the proposals to gate the development at night and the failure of the scheme to genuinely respond to the Community Vision.  They describe Stokes Croft as “Bristol’s alternative area”, home to people with strong views about how their neighbourhood should be. Reference to the Tesco riots four years ago and opposition to posh flats that have nothing in common with the rest of the area. But council officers see nothing wrong with the scheme. So what’s the problem with knocking down an eye-sore and replacing it with flats?

Lori says the main objections are lack of social housing and that units for sale are priced beyond local affordability.

Pennick says that sale values will be lower than those in the viability appraisal – nothing higher than £300k.  He says that values are reasonable for the local market, as demonstrated by what he has been told by local property agents.

Pennick says this is a brownfield site with a listed building so he can’t afford to provide more affordable housing.

Pennick says CAG have given wrong advice about the planning application and makes a proposal about what he describes as erroneous descriptions of a gated community. He says that at this evening’s planning committee he will propose a S.106 agreement be signed and “this will basically put into place that these gates will never be able to put on this site and close on an evening (sic). That is a legally binding document”.  We assume that what he meant is ‘It is not and will not be a gated community even at night’ but his wording wasn’t exactly clear.

Pennick is challenged over his response to the open letter from local creatives etc that resulted in him criticising Wallace and Gromit. He says he doesn’t like open letters and that none of the signatories have ever contacted him to ask for a meeting about their concerns.

When asked if CAG will work with Fifth Capital, Lori says yes and suggests that Fifth Capital withdraw their application and then work with CAG and a social housing provider to come up with the right scheme and provide a solution for the site in line with the Community Vision. She says there is a passion to see the site redeveloped in the right way and stop it staying dereliect for another 40 years.

Hear the interview: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02mr41m#auto 1hr40mins in.

Unredacted viability study released

The unredacted reports have been released – here they are:

Economic Viability Appraisal Report

Viability Review

Also on the Council’s website

Headlines

Commercial units.

Rent = £10psf (£107psm) per annum for a shell unit (so services, rates etc will all be additional).  “The values attached to these units reflect the likely tenants of the accomodation, being local occupiers”.  Really affordable for locals?  By comparison Co-Exist charge £12-14psf for Enterprise Space and £10-12psf for artist studios, but that’s inclusive of all services.  Meanwhile the old Princes Trust unit on Stokes Croft (4,815sq ft on 3 floors) is on the market at £5.20psf and another recently refurbished 547sqft unit on Stokes Croft is on the market for £8.20psf. However, 32 Stokes Croft is on the market at £13.50psf.

Freehold of the commercial units will be sold to an investor for £900,000.  YP=8%.

Residential Units.

  • 1 x bed flat = £215,000.
  • 2 x bed flat = £250,000.
  • 3 x bed flat = £300,000.
  • 3 x bed house = £375,000.
  • Affordable units (which comprise all the units in the Carriageworks building) will be shared ownership with 40% sold to the occupier and 60% to a RSL.  So the three 2 bed duplex units, which each have a value of £265,000, would be bought on shared ownership for £66,000.

Freehold of the residential units will be sold to an investor for £500,000 (ground rent of £300/unit with 6% YP).

Development costs

Construction cost of all types of unit = £158psf (£1700sqm).

Costs are based on the fourth quarter 2014 but Fifth Capital won’t be on site until third quarter 2015 at the earliest; this could add 4-5% to costs (BCIS estimate). This inflationary increase will have to be covered either from the developer’s profit, the contingency fund or by an increase in sale values.

Costs assume that works will be procured by a national housebuilder – which Fifth Capital is not!

Development cost (construction cost + fees + marketing + agents + legals + finance) = £24m or £213psf (£2,300psm)

The difference between net and gross floor areas is 26%.

There is no allowance for the cost of archaeological works, works in relation to flora and fauna, bats, pvs, artwork, any works to adjoining properties (e.g. underpinning), Japanese knot weed, asbestos etc.  The assumption must be that these will be picked up by the 5% contingency fund or from the developer’s profit.

Developer’s Profit

£5,750,000 (19% of gross development value).

Land Value

£1.4m.  The benchmark landvalue used to justify this land value is Huller House & Cheese Warehouse.  This is a Victorian and early 20th Century warehouse block fronting the harbour in Redcliffe – some of the most expensive real estate in Bristol. Questionable if that’s a good comparable.

Total cost

Total cost of development (£29.5m) equates to £2,800psm (assuming 10,430 sqm gross area developed).