What local people said to Fifth Capital

Last week (on 14 January) local people met with Fifth Capital to discuss their proposals to redevelop the Carriageworks site.  After Fifth Capital and their architects had given their presentation the 60 or so people attending were asked to get into groups and formulate questions about the proposals. These were written on post-its which are typed up below. The post-its formed the basis of the subsequent Q&A session with the developers grouped around the Vision themes. Not every issue could be covered and not every question got a clear answer but what they did tell us is covered on the accompanying page ‘What Fifth Capital told the community meeting‘. On the whole the people who came along were sceptical to the extent that at the end of the meeting John Assael, the architect, was almost pleading for some support!

 Community (and ground floor) Uses

  • Essential to have answers about the management of the site. Proposals for management e.g. shop units, hard and soft landscapes. We need confidence in the application.
  • The exhibition in Autumn 2014 said there would be consultants talking to the community in quarter 4 about arts and ground floor uses of the community space behind the Carriageworks.
  • Will it have anything to offer the local community – Picton St or multiculturalism in St Pauls?
  • Fear of supermarkets.
  • Why is there so little for the community?
  • Will commercial businesses be local independents or chains?
  • There should not be an “inside”! Unclear about uses about these especially commercial and ability to combine units to form unsociably large units.
  • We’re not happy about the loss of community / workshop spaces.

Through Route

  • Will it be open? Need public right-of-way.
  • Permeability shown is disingenuous.
  • Permeability – convoluted route. Could be gated later for exclusivity.
  • Disingenuous permeability – this is designed to fail. Will gates get added? New residents will complain.
  • Access is arranged so that it can be blocked off. How can we be sure this will not happen?
  • The through access is designed so it can be blocked off. How can this be retained?

Housing

  • SPD10 7.2 Affordable Housing 7.2.1 shows affordable housing as 30% – why has this been ignored? 7.2.2 Family Housing having gardens at ground floor level. Where is the provision on site for the block backing onto the rear of Hepburn Road?
  • Fear that flats will be bought off-plan or as investment opportunities.
  • Lack of affordable housing.
  • Buy to rent market? Will buyers buy flats and rent at high prices forcing lower paid workers out?
  • No provision of social housing – no homes available for rent.
  • Who are these apartments really for?
  • Where is the social rented property?
  • Will homes be sold on the open market?
  • How quickly will be for sale?
  • How many at a time?
  • Any priority for local people?
  • Will they be available under help to buy scheme?
  • Is it right that family homes are adjacent to a bail hostel?
  • What provision will there be for internal community space?
  • Need to know who will live there – need cohesion with wider community especially St Pauls.
  • There is no social housing – shared equity does not count.
  • Too many single flats, too few family homes.
  • SPD10 – local Plan to encourage family and affordable housing.
  • Lack of affordable homes – only 7%. SPD10 says 30%.
  • Poor mix of tenure with no homes for rent.
  • Concerns about buy-to-let opportunities.
  • Lacks any thought about need for social housing and community businesses.
  • Who will live there? If market decides how fit with locality? Social housing – need some. No more gated communities. What about access – public right of way?

Design

  • Does it have to be so dense to be viable?
  • Where will building materials be sourced from? Local? Are building materials locally sourced? Are the materials sourced locally?
  • Will the scheme be built in one phase? If it is to be built in two or more phases presume that the Carriageworks will be done in Phase 1.
  • What has happened to Future City?
  • Is this not further gentrification of St Pauls?
  • Concern re height of units on Hepburn Road and overlooking roof top gardens.
  • Demolition of Westmoreland House unanimously approved.
  • Concern about shadowing of immediate area.
  • Design is ‘inside’ and ‘out’ – there’s no flow – will lead to a feeling of exclusion
  • Hepburn Road gets a Berlin Wall as a view – very overpowering for St Pauls residents – how will this be addressed?
  • Tree – protection of.
  • Flood plain.
  • Conservation area.

Parking and access

  • Deliveries to the new businesses: where will they arrive? Traffic at the top of Ashley Road is often very heavy.
  • How will businesses do deliveries – very difficult.
  • Fire service access to the site. Moving into flats – access is very restricted.
  • How do people move in to the flats? Access is very restricted. How is this supposed to work?
  • How is fire service going to access the site to ensure safety of residents?
  • How to residents empty their refuse and recycling? How does it work? Any refuse trucks would block the disabled parking access.
  • Concern regarding expensive parking provision affecting the project viability and so the percentage provision of affordable housing.
  • Disabled parking will be blocked by refuse trucks.
  • On site car club – 10-12 spaces – will parking be adequate.
  • Concerns about car parking.
  • Junction – create an improved general space.

Delivery – finances

  • Is the scheme financially viable?
  • How much is being paid for the site?

Delivery – jobs

  • Given the number of jobs that have gone out of the local area, will there be a commitment to local employment?
  • Will any consideration be given to employing local people in the development?
  • Given that all jobs (and profits) so far are destined for London please can the architect and developer assure us that jobs and training opportunities and senior posts will be available to local people.
  • Local jobs – employment opportunity. Apprenticeships for project for after build.

Delivery – relationship with Comer

  • The relationship between Fifth Capital and the owners is murky.
  • Can the current owner still scupper your plans and, if so, what is their disincentive? How much would it cost them to prevent it and keep the site undeveloped again?
  • Can you set out in plain English what the on-going relationship is with / between Fifth Capital and Comer?

Delivery – involvement of the community

  • What community involvement will be there be from now on?

Delivery – long term management

  • Do Fifth Capital intend to retain the development or sell it on? If it is sold on, how will commitment on management be honoured?
  • What guarantees that whey they say now will go forward?

And finally…

  • What are the water run-off plans?
  • Given that the value of these buildings have given their owners assets on their balance sheets, isn’t it time for the local community to benefit?
  • Why should we accept profit making outsiders over the popular model developed by CAG and Knightstone, designed to meet local need?
  • Not by commercial non-local.
  • Anything to stop foreign investors bulk buying?
  • How can we trust a company whose representative so blatantly disrespects the Chair of this community meeting? (refers to architects refusal to keep to agreed time).
  • As the Chair of a Social Housing group why should I support this (at present I am urging Councillors to reject) as:
    • No social housing – shared equity is NOT social
    • Car parking is naive
    • Money not clear
    • Relationship Fifth Capital and (Comer)
    • No community element
  • Why are there no detailed plans on display tonight?
  • Comparison with the Knightstone scheme is unfair. Their proposals were really very early stage ideas. This should be made clear.
  • How to you feel about riding on the back of years of community work and wrecking it?
  • This is a real tooth and claw private development that offers little or nothing to the local community. It offers nothing in terms of self-determination. It is a luxury development visited upon a vibrant community that will change its nature irrevocably – all in pursuit of profit. How do you sleep at nights?
  • There is no element of community ownership in this development.
  • This is a purely commercial development. It is not clear how this benefits the local community.

What Fifth Capital told the Community Meeting

Last Wednesday Marc Pennick of Fifth Capital and his team of architects and planners came to tell the Carriageworks Action Group about their planning application to redevelop the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site.

What Fifth Capital said:

You can find a summary of Fifth Capital’s proposals here on our website but this is some of the extra detail that they provided us with:

Comments from agencies and other groups

  • English Heritage are very supportive of the proposals. Simon Ramsden (Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas) was quoted as saying that they “warmly welcome the proposals” and that they “Will be a significant enhancement of the historic environment”.
  • The Civic Society are also supportive and were quoted as saying that they are “delighted to see Westmoreland House demolished”.

Commercial and community space

  • Property agents have advised Fifth Capital that commercial space inside the site would not be viable.
  • The five units shown in the planning application can be sub-divided but it will be difficult to merge them into a bigger unit – so they won’t be suitable for big retailers.
  • Fifth Capital have said that the commercial / community units will be for local businesses. In response to a question asking how this will be achieved we were told that it would be via the S.106 agreement (a legal agreement between the developer and the Council that sets out how the impact of the development is mitigated and managed).

Ongoing Management

  • Fifth Capital are in the process of identifying a suitable company to manage the site once it is redeveloped. Mark Pennick gave little comfort that its brief will be anything other than a conventional role of making sure the rents are paid and the bins are emptied. However, he did agree that the company should have a working relationship with the local community.

Through Route

  • There will be two open spaces (one primarily for residents and one open to the wider community) and a route through the site. These will be controlled by the management company. The police have concerns about the route being open after dark. Marc Pennick said he has no problems with the area being open 24/7 but he has to be guided by the police and the planners.

Housing

  • There will be 8 affordable units for sale, but no social housing for rent. The Council is assessing the viability appraisal which shows that they can’t afford to provide more than 8 units.
  • Marc Pennick refused to be drawn on how much the flats and houses will be sold for, instead saying that it would be for the market and local agents to decide. However, he did say that he thought they would be most suited to first time buyers. There will not be any preference for local people and equally they could be bought by investors. Marc Pennick hopes to find a way of prioritising local purchasers over overseas investors.

Design

  • They don’t consider any over-shadowing to be significant. However in response to concerns about people looking down from the roof gardens into neighbouring properties Marc Pennick said they would go back and look again at the designs.
  • It is not feasible to put commercial or workshop uses upstairs in the Carriageworks. Marc Pennick stressed that it is his money that he’s spending on the building and he wants to put it back to how it should be.

Parking

  • They’re leaving it up to the City Council to say how much parking is required on the site. At the moment they have none.
  • They’re looking at improving the Stokes Croft Ashley Road junction.

Documents in the planning application

  • Renditions of the proposed scheme were requested by the planners. As the whole scheme has been digitally modelled they can be easily provided from any other viewpoint.
  • In response to a question about the cultural consultants we were told that their Cultural Strategy had been submitted with the planning application. It later transpired that the Council has not placed it online with the other planning documents but we have been sent a copy so the Cultural Strategy can be viewed with this link.

Timescales and delivery

  • If planning permission is given in March they will start building at the end of the year. All the funding is apparently in place but Marc Pennick will not reveal what he is paying for the site or how much it will cost to develop
  • The travellers living on the site will be given plenty of notice to move out, although this will be backed up with legal steps to make sure that the scheme is not delayed.
  • Fifth Capital will build the scheme (they’re talking to Leadbitters and Thomas Pane about being the builders) and then sell all the flats and houses.
  • Marc Pennick has a business relationship with Comer Homes (current owners of the site) and a 22 month option that started in November 2014. So long as Fifth Capital gets planning permission there is nothing Comer can do to step the sale of the site going through.

Press Coverage

Bristol 24/7 were at the meeting to record architect John Assael and CAG Chair Lori Streich.

Evening Post article the day after the meeting.

What local people said:

The views of the 60 or so people who came along varied but on the whole you / we were sceptical to the extent that John Assael, the architect, was almost pleading for some support! The main concerns are written up on the page ‘What local people said to Fifth Capital

So what happens next?

Marc Pennick wants to keep an open dialogue with CAG and the wider community whether this be face-to-face, by phone or by email. He will answer any questions and is happy for them to be put on the CAG website.

CAG will be working up its response to the planning application.  We’re holding weekly meetings every Thursday at Cafe Kino to help and advise people preparing their own responses.

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:

  • RESIDENTIAL
    • 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.
  • COMMERCIAL
    • 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.”
  • PARKING
    • 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)
  • BUILDING HEIGHT
    • 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)
  • OPEN SPACES
    • 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.
  • ACCESS
    • 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.

Background

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 info@carriageworks.org.uk 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 http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/planning-and-building-regulations/bristol-central-area-plan. 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.””

Read more at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/heritage-at-risk-2014/