‘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.

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.

We met with Fifth Capital

On 10 April members of the CAG Liaison Group met with Fifth Capital, the second developer, to find out more about who they are and what they propose for the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House.

Fifth Capital first popped up late last year saying that they had acquired a controlling interest in the form of an option to buy the site. Since then they have been writing to and meeting with the Council and local groups to tell them about their plans. So we thought we should have a chat with them as well.

We found out a bit more about Marc Pennick and his company Fifth Capital including  what they’ve done in the past (mostly redevelopment schemes in London) and how they operate (previously they have bought sites and then sold them on with planning permission).  We also wanted to understand their links with the site’s owners Comer Homes (they told us they have none).

When it comes to their ideas for the site they bear a high similarity to Knighstone’s.  So it is a residential lead scheme in which they restore the Carriageworks, retain Westmoreland House, create a route through the site and have active ground floor uses.  Car parking will be ‘just adequate’.

They say their timescale is to submit a planning application by the end of the year and be on site by the end of 2015.  They are currently carrying out various site surveys and appraisals and intend to carry out public consultation in June (although we pointed out that they might want to avoid the annual exodus to the fields of Pilton!).  They also want to set up regular meetings with CAG to advise them on how to consult locally and to feedback on their proposals.

You can read a full write up of our meeting on this page.

All in all, Fifth Capital seem to be a serious contender.  But at this point in time we still don’t really know what they’ve done before or whether they are good for their word. We should also point out that Fifth Capital’s proposals have not changed the City Council’s or Knightstone’s approach – they are still committed to working up plans for the site and progressing through to development, using compulsory purchase to buy the long derelict site from the owners, Comer Homes, if necessary.

So what do you think?  Should we work with Fifth Capital, should we help them, should we oppose them, or should we ignore them?  Leave your comments below or mail them to us ideas@carriageworks.org.uk

Lori and the CAG Liaison Group

Second developer in PR drive to take over Carriageworks scheme?

You may be aware of a second developer emerging with an interest in developing the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site. Marc Pennick, through his company Fifth Capital London, has drawn together a team of London consultants to work up competing plans for the future of the site.

Don’t worry though; this isn’t derailing Knightstone who are still the Council’s preferred developer for the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House. The local housing association emerged from an intensive selection process in 2013 run by the City. It had the Community Vision at its heart and the possible use of compulsory purchase powers to make sure that something actually happens. Knightstone’s plans are on our website and were the result of wide consultation last summer.

Nevertheless, Marc Pennick says that he has now acquired a controlling interest in the form of an option to buy the site, presumably with the help of the current owners, Comer Homes (who still list the site as one of their “future” developments). We don’t yet know the terms of the option, how long it lasts or whether Pennick intends to build himself or sell on to a third developer.

Pennick and his PR consultant Ralph Scott of Four Communications have been writing to local organisations and councillors asking to meet them to explain the plans. The letter says that he is “seeking to bring forward a mixed use scheme that addresses the aspirations of both the City and the local community, with due consideration given to the listed buildings.” Sounds good, although with no apparent track record, at least not on the internet, we can only take him at his word.

In the spirit of openess and because we’re jolly good sorts, members of the CAG Liaison Group will next week be meeting Marc Pennick, Ralph Scott, Assael Architects and his planning consultants to find our more. We’ll let you know what they say!

In the meantime we’re also staying on the ball with Knightstone and will be talking to them about their progress and the timescale for submitting a planning application.  We’ll let you know what they say as well.

Council approves compulsory purchase

On the 4th March the City Council’s cabinet approved renewal of the compulsory purchase powers and working up of a scheme with Knightstone.

Film of the meeting is on YouTube – go to 42 minutes in.  Lots of plaudits for the work the community has done bringing everything forward – well done everyone :-)

You might also be interested to see (at 25’15”) that Marc Pennick of Fifth Capital turned up and spoke about his own proposals for the site.  This didn’t alter the Council’s decision to back the compulsory purchase recommendation.

New report to Cabinet

The City Council is putting a new report about the Carriageworks to its Cabinet tomorrow (Tuesday 4 March).

The report says that, subject to a development agreement being entered into with Knightstone and planning permission being obtained, that the Council use compulsory purchase powers to aquire the site “for the purposes of comprehensive re-development”. This is a renewal of the authorisation previously given on 31 May 2012.

You can see the full report at https://www.bristol.gov.uk/committee/2014/ua/ua000/0304_6.pdf

Second developer for the Carriageworks?

It seems that a second developer may be emerging for the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House.

Assael Architects sign

The sign of London based Assael Architecture has been placed on the hoardings on Ashley Road so, unless it’s a bit of guerilla advertising, it could  indicate that someone other than Knightstone has started working up a scheme for the site.  This could tie in with reports of an individual visiting local businesses to tell them that a new planning application is being prepared.

So who is behind this scheme?  No developer has spoken to CAG about it so all we can do is speculate. It could be the owners of the site, Comer Homes, who are an established client of Assael Architecture.  Or it could be the rather mysterious Fifth Capital London who suddenly popped up late last year asking for a meeting with the Council to discuss their plans.  Online checks show the company is owned by Marc Pennick and possibly his wife but with little apparent turnover or assets how they would manage to bring in Assael and deliver a multi-million pound development is anyone’s guess.

The City Council and Knightstone have both confirmed that their approach is unchanged by this latest development.  So they’ll be working up a planning application through the first part of 2014 and aim to acquire the site for development later in the year, using compulsory purchase powers if necessary.

Do let us know if you bump into anyone representing the mystery developer.  We’d love to invite them to a community meeting so that we can all find out more!

Your memories of Westmoreland House?

CAG and Montpelier Conservation Group have been awarded  funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to explore your memories of Westmoreland House. The project focuses of the short period of the building’s life when it was occupied in the 1960s to early 1980s.

Westmoreland House: An Oral and Visual History will gather stories and memories from people who worked in the building, or who knew it when it was a working building. The stories will be recorded and kept, along with a collection of images, plans, press cuttings – whatever documents we can find – to tell the story of Westmoreland House when it had windows.

If you have any information about Westmoreland House, or stories to tell about it, please email stories@carriageworks.org.uk

To find out more go to the Stories page.


Knightstone confirmed as preferred developer

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 KproposalDec2013at 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 stories@carriageworks.org.uk