What you’ve been telling us

A few weeks ago we sent out an update on the Carriageworks and, in particular, Fifth Capital the company that now says it’s going to develop the site.  Lots of people wrote in with their thoughts.  Here’s what they said (to respect individuals we’ve removed actual names). The comments stand in contrast to Fifth Capital’s PR which is claiming that local people are saying “just get on with it”.

Thank you for your informative email — I was wondering about the leaflet, and was deeply suspicious after reading it. I used to (be) a financial journalist — this smells bad. As well as bearing the hallmarks of various kinds of dodgy dealing, it’s exactly how the ‘dead hand of gentrification’ works — as soon as an area becomes ‘up and coming’, with the trotting out of promises that ‘developers’ have no intention of delivering on (or being around long enough to deliver on) being a major aspect of it.
I am very pleased to see that you sound already very aware of this, and trust that we’ll be able to put together a robust demolition of their planning application unless the bad smell proves unfounded, and the motives and plan better than rotten. With links to major developers and financiers, they’ll be good at it, so we’ll need to be quicker and smarter — a strong collaborative relationship with BCC, whatever the limitations on what Planning can and can’t take into account, may well prove to be our greatest asset! It will be fascinating to see what they present at their exhibition.
Keep up the good work. Stokes Croft CAN do regeneration differently!
best, J
P.S. How old is the photo they used on their leaflet?!

Thank you very much for this – for those of us without the time to really follow these things too closely, but with a very keen interest in what happens there, this is a perfect summary. I appreciate this level of brevity, with links to as much further info as anyone interested and with the time can follow. It is an excellent update for people like me, of which I am sure there are many.
Thanks again

I had lunch with a friend in Glastonbury, who described the owners of the Carriageworks site (on what evidence I don’t know) as a ‘bunch of gangsters’.
I must say the situation as described in the newsletter supports this view. There is no evidence of any kind to support the proposals of this company with less money than I have as a retired and not very wealthy individual. It all sounds like ‘Stokes Croft is the place to be in Bristol. We can make lots of money by banging up some overpriced flats with just enough minor alterations to get the planning permission.’
Let’s hope Knightstone, a local and relatively well known organization trusted to a large degree, can get their vision up, but if I know developers they will be shafted in the interests of a quick buck.

I hope Fifth Capital do not have any association with Hong Kong estate agents who seem to be selling off London at the rate of knots.
Thanks for the update.

[The next message was sent to Fifth Capital and copied to us]
We respond to the ‘Carriageworks Community News’ put through our letterbox as local residents.
We think your consultation with the local community is commendable, despite being an obligatory requirement of submitting a planning application of this scale.
However the fact that on the site map/plan contained on your Community News three of the surrounding streets have been misnamed or misspelled (see attached), is a sloppiness that doesn’t suggest any kind of local awareness, let alone inspire confidence.
Of course, all the questions being asked by the Carriageworks Action Group (as below) require good answers, that according to them seem so far to be lacking.
I’m not entirely convinced that hiring an independent communications company suggests real commitment to direct engagement with the local community either.
And Fifth Capital having no website and a possibly residential business address doesn’t inspire confidence either I’m afraid.

Why are you giving all this publicity to Fifth Capital ?
They have turned up too late to enter the race. Surely the race has already run, with Knightstone the winner. Let’s just let them get on with it .

Dont worry about the leaflet – thats a small issue.
The bigger issue with this group is that Marc Pennicks mate is Peter Bingle, who works for Bell Pottinger – a Public Affairs.
I think BPPA used to work for the government, but certainly Peter has connections in Westminster.
Will keep digging.

It seems from looking at your histories that what these people with no money who have just bought a controlling interest are after is a fat profit from the compulsory purchase. After all you buy the place for little money on a loan, then prepare, cheaply and quickly, a set of plans that are obviously not sufficient for what is required, but which, if implemented, would make a lot of money for you, and then when the Council decides to compulsorily purchase, you claim all kinds of business losses and make a huge profit for doing nothing, leaving Bristol impoverished and less money for the proper implementation of the original scheme. Worse than that if TTIP* goes through you will have a legal right to sue for all losses made as the result of any government or council decision, and that will probably include projected profits over the next 50 years assuming the most favourable possible position.
We may well get the Knightstone option, but at a cost several times what it should be, thanks to these fly by night operators.

* TTIP = Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. For more see 38 Degrees campaign

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 http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/sep/11/is-leipzig-the-new-berlin 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?


* http://www.fifthcapitallondon.com 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.