Respond to the Fifth Capital planning application

Fifth Capital have submitted their planning application for the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House.

All the documents are on the Council’s website

  1. Planning application
  2. Listed building application

To save you time you can also download all the documents (as of 12 December) in one handy pack:  Download 147Mb in a zip file.  Note that while a planning application is being considered the documents get added to and amended so you should check with the Council website for the latest versions.

The essence of the application

Fifth Capital are applying for permission to demolish Westmorland House and 4 Ashley Road.  They will then refurbish / convert the Carriageworks and develop new buildings on the rest of the site.  Their development proposals comprise:

    • 59 x 1 bed flats, of which 1 = intermediate housing*
    • 35 x 2 bed flats, of which 6 = intermediate housing*
    • 18 x 3 bed flats with balconies, of which 1 = intermediate housing*
    • 9 x 3 bed houses with gardens
    • Total: 118 residential units.  Density = 231 units/ha
    • There is an assumption that 95 children will live in the scheme.
    • Maximum 5 x commercial / community units totalling 659sqm along Stokes Croft and Ashley Road frontage.
    • No commercial / community units inside the site.
    • The units will be “able to accommodate a broad range of uses and activities” and “will be carefully managed to ensure a mix of independent businesses and other organisations… (The) incorporation of retail chains or supermarkets has been ruled out.”
    • 6 x disabled car parking spaces
    • 1 x car club space
    • No other parking provision
    • 196 x bicycle spaces (inc 6 for staff and visitors to commercial units)
    • On Stokes Croft Westmoreland House will be replaced with a five storey building (inc. mansard roof).
    • Carriageworks – same height but with additonal storey in mansard roof
    • Ashley Road – new five storey block (inc. mansard roof)
    • Central apartment block – six storeys high (inc. mansard roof)
    • Terraced houses – three storey and pitched roof
    • Perimeter apartment building – four storey (inc. mansard roof)
    • One space accessed from Stokes Croft through the Carriageworks.  “A courtyard garden” open to the public “during commercial hours”.  Otherwise only accessible to residents.
    • One space to the rear of the site for residents with small play area and “allotment garden”.  Accessible to the public during daylight hours.
    • Route through the site from Ashley Road to Stokes Croft for public use but there will be gates at the public access points which will be closed during hours of darkness / outside commercial hours (whichever is the shorter).

* Intermediate housing = housing provided to eligible households at prices and rents above those of social rent, but below market price sor rents. The housing can include shared equity, other low cost homes for sale and intermediate rents.

What happens next?

Consultation letters will be going out over Christmas. The planning application will be considered by the City Council’s planning committee in April.  Comments can be submitted up until the day of the committee but, to help the planners, ideally they need to be submitted by the end of January.

Our initial thoughts

It will take some time to read through and assess the application.  But our initial thoughts are that there is insufficient affordable housing, that there is insufficient ground floor commercial and community space, that the through-route is inadequate and that the design of many of the blocks bear no relation to the surrounding area and Bristol.

Community Meeting

We will hold a community meeting on Wednesday 14th January, 6:30pm at the Salvation Army (not Hamilton House as earlier posted) to discuss the application.  Fifth Capital have agreed to the principle of coming to a community meeting but we haven’t yet confirmed the date with them.

Help for you to compile your response to the application

Rather than get lots of people to send the same comments to the planners we’d like everyone to send their own thoughts.  We understand that this can be a bit daunting and time consuming so, to help you on your way, we’ll be holding write-ins at Cafe Kino, every Thursday in January (8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th) from 7-8pm.  Come along, have a drink, have a chat, put pen to paper (or finger to keypad).

Time to lobby your Councillor

What’s happened to the Council’s twin-track approach?

We’re asking you to write to your local Councillor asking why the Council has abandoned its twin-track approach to getting the site redeveloped.  Click here to take action immediately.

What is twin-track?

At the community meeting back in October we were reminded that the City Council said, when helping start up CAG, that it was important that it followed a ‘twin-track’ approach. This meant working with the existing owners should they bring forward plans for redevelopment, but also working up a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for use if the owners made no progress.  The aim was to ensure that, either way, something happened to address the dereliction.


For the last two years we’ve been working with the Council to find a developer for the site and to put in place the compulsory purchase process.  Knightstone were appointed the preferred developer and we were hoping we would see them working up their planning application and the Council starting the CPO process through 2014. However, Fifth Capital then arrived on the scene.

By October we were hearing that a planning application from Fifth Capital was imminent. This was making both Knightstone and the Council jittery about committing resources; if the application were successful it would render as wasted any design work by Knightstone and work on the CPO by the Council.

However, October went without a planning application. Then we were led to believe that a planning application would be sumbitted in November. The middle of November came and went, without a planning permission application. And we now hear that they’ll be submitting at the end of December.

We’re asking “How long?”

As CAG we have to ask the question: how long will this go on for? And how long before those with the power to do something about it (i.e. the Council with its CPO powers) get off the fence and recommitt to the twin-track approach?

We are very supportive of the City Council for all the work it has done to help create the Community Vision and move redevelopment of the site forward.  We think that Knightstone’s ideas are good and should create a scheme that delivers the Vision. But we get the sense that something has changed in the Council to reduce its level of commitment and backtrack on the hard work and investment of the last four years.

Time to write to your Councillor

We are asking you to now write to your local councillors and ask the simple question “Why?”.  Why is the Council not using funds allocated by the Homes and Communities Agency to pursue its twin-track approach?  Why has the Council stopped acting on its own Cabinet decisions to working up a CPO? Why is the Council not supporting Knightstone, its preferred developer, to get the site surveys done and a planning application prepared (an essential precursor to a CPO)? Why is the Council going cold on the whole scheme?

Follow this link to our website where you can select your ward councillors, fill in your details and send an email.
·      Ashley ward (St Pauls, Montpelier, St Werburghs, St Andrews)
·      Cabot ward (Kingsdown, city centre)
·      Cotham ward (Cotham)

You can also email the Mayor from our website.

Please send us copies of the responses that you get from your Councillors and the Mayor. And if we hear anything, we will let you know.

The latest from Fifth Capital

Shortly after the October meeting Lori and Julian had an informal meeting with Marc Pennick, Director of Fifth Capital, plus their PR company and their architects. They are clearly eager to please and were suggesting ways of creating a through route, confirming that there will be affordable housing, and considering how to ensure that the business space is locked in for local use for the long-term. Marc was also clearly frustrated by the ongoing scepticism that exists locally about his intentions, although he still hasn’t provided any concrete evidence of what he’s done in the past. We asked if they would come to a CAG community meeting to explain their scheme and they have agreed to do this. We were also told that they would be submitting their planning application in mid November. Hmm.

Planning group

Another suggestion at the October meeting was for a group of people to get together to look in more detail at the planning issues. This will be a combination of preparing a robust response to a planning application from Fifth Capital, should it appear, and also looking at how planning policy affecting the site could be strengthened. If you’re interested in getting involved in this group (first meeting is next week) please contact us for details.

In the meantime the City Council is consulting on the final amendments to its Central Area Plan.  This includes a section on the Carriageworks (page 126).  More details on their website Consultation ends on 6th January.

Stay warm and don’t forget to send those emails :-)

Lori and Julian

Carriageworks is Heritage at Risk

English Heritage has listed the Carriageworks as one of five entrenched buildings at risk that are ready for redevelopment and reuse.

“More than 15 years on from the first Heritage at Risk Register, English Heritage has identified five more buildings ready for redevelopment and reuse. All of them have been on the Register for at least a decade and it is these entrenched cases, where seemingly there is no way forward, the organisation wants to draw attention to.

“(#3) Carriage Works, Bristol, Grade II*, on the Register since 1998. Built in 1862 for Perry and Son’s carriages, only the shell of the building remains, which has not been used since 1977. Previous proposals for the site failed to gain planning permission and the buildings remain empty. A housing association recently put forward draft proposals for the site, and another scheme is being prepared by a private developer

“Simon Thurley, English Heritage Chief Executive, said: “The next few years will be crucial for At Risk sites. Although there has been a reduction in the number of sites on the Register, more than a third of buildings that were on the national Register when it first began in 1999 are still there now. We can’t give up on all these incredibly important historic buildings; getting them back in use will lift the blight from historic areas, bringing back in to use really important buildings and giving people a sense of pride in where they live. As the economy starts to improve and the demand for development increases, we need to push these buildings forward and find a future for them.””


You came, you spoke and you left no doubt

We had a packed room last night for the Carriageworks Community Meeting.  Around 60 people turned up to hear the latest on plans for the redevelopment of the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House and to quiz the City Council and Knightstone on what is and should be happening next. There was also a lot of discussion about what Comer / Fifth Capital are up to.

The big problem we face is the way in which the Fifth Capital proposals have stalled the City Council’s proposals to compulsoraly purchase the site and Knightstone’s proposals to then redevelop the site. The reason for the stall lies in the risks: the Council and Knighstone would have to spend £3-400k to work up proposals, but that expenditure could be abortive if (and it’s a big ‘if’) Fifth Capital do get planning permission and do develop the site. The City Council is therefore waiting to see if a planning application is submitted and whether it is viable before they take their next step.

Amidst much frustration, the key message from people at the meeting was that the City Council needs to be a lot more robust and assertive in its response. When CAG was established in 2011 there was talk of a two track approach – one track tackling the owners and the ongoing dereliction, and the other bringing forward redevelopment proposals. Sadly it seems that that twin approach is being somewhat derailed. The message for the three Councillors present was, therefore, to get back on the tracks, to take control and to be prepared to invest in the surveys and planning permission which Kinightstone need to prepare.

There was also discussion about the planning policies which apply to the site. There are some things, such as affordable housing and the through route, which people feel should be secured.  So can the policies be improved? It might be too late if Fifth Capital do submit a planning application in the near future (they say they’ll do that in the next fortnight) but if, as many people fear, the reaility is going to be ongoing dereliction it could help get the solution we want in the longer term.

There’s been a lot of media interest since last night’s meeting so the story will be told in many places as it unfolds. And don’t forget to keep checking back here for updates.

Compare and contrast: The Vision, Knightstone and Fifth Capital

To help you understand all the various ideas for the Carriageworks site we’ve prepared this handy(ish) comparison table.  It shows what the Community Vision says, and how the Knightstone and Fifth Capital schemes respond to it. Click to download the PDF.

And for you to see how we’ve got to where we are, we’ve made this timeline.


What’s happened to Knightstone?

Three years ago we were discussing our Community Vision. One year ago, in a significant step towards compulsory purchase and the end of years of derelection, Knightstone were selected as the preferred developer to deliver the Vision. But since Fifth Capital emerged it’s all gone very quiet. Are Knightstone holding back to see what comes of the Fifth Capital scheme? What does the Council think about that? And what should we, the local community, do?

Let us know what you think. Come to the Community meeting on Monday 13 October (6pm at the Salvation Army, Ashley Road), write your comments below, or send your thoughts to