PG Submit Application to Vary Planning Conditions

On 8 August PG Group submitted an application to vary the conditions attached to the planning permission gained by Fifth Capital in October 2015. The application has to be determined by Tuesday 07 Nov 2017.

The application and supporting documents can be found on the Council’s planning portal. Public comments can be submitted via the portal.

Planning Statement

Bristol based planning consultants CSJ provide the supporting planning statement. To summarise:

  • There are many pre-commencement conditions that have to be dealt with prior to demolition. This impacts on feasibility and deliverarbility of the project.
  • Planning permission expires in July 2018 so there is limited time.
  • Delaying some of the conditions until after demolition will allow for site constraints to be properly assessed, investigative works and preparation of a suitable construction contract.
  • The Carriageworks is unsafe and therefore needs demolition of the rear wall and internal structure (see justification below).

PG are proposing changes to 11 conditions attached to the planning permission (one more than we were told about in July) and 2 conditions attached to the listed building consent. These are summarised in the table below.  PG’s stated aim is to avoid delays and “provide precision to the wording of the conditions” but that “the proposed variations will not prejudice the reasons for imposing the relevant conditions”.

Justification For Early Demolition

Bristol construction company Bray and Slaughter provide a justification for early demolition of Westmorland House and parts of the Carriageworks.  This mostly refers to the structural weakness of the Carriageworks due to fire and weather damage plus asbestos which all result in health and safety risks. While these are not new the danger posed prevents further investigations which are needed for structural design to proceed e.g. to establish: the foundation lines of neighbouring buildings, site contamination, ground conditions etc.

The report also refers to the intention to crush Westmorland House’s concrete frame on site for reuse as “a working platform / possible piling mat”.

CAG’s Response

The PG Group told us about the proposed changes in July which we summarised in our post on 21 July on this website. CAG’s position is that we will work with any developer who embraces our Vision. We understand the difficulties that some of the conditions pose for PG, especially given the complexity of carrying out demolition on the site. There is however a long history of this community having the proverbial done to it so, while we don’t want to delay or frustrate the development process, there is an inclination to take a cautious approach to the detail and everything that lies within.

We sent an initial response agreeing with some of the changes and questioning others.  PG sent clarification of some points some of which we still questioned, but to avoid holding everything up we agreed, for the moment, to disagree on some of the wording (mainly relating to contamination). This will be discussed at the Community Meeting on 4 September and the following weeks.

PG’s proposed changes and our initial response are summarised below.

Condition Number Subject Change sought CAG’s initial comment
2 No demolition before construction contract signed Amend wording so that the build contract can be prepared and signed after demolition. No objection
3 No development before materials and finishes approved Allow for demolition before approval No objection
4 Remediate any contaminiation before development Allow for approved demolition before remediation Conditions 4, 19, and 20 are inter-related. No objection to the principel but we want certainty that contamination discovered during demolition is properly dealt with.
11 Before development begins, speficiation of built-in bird nests and bat roosts to be agreed Allow for demolition before agreeing the spec No objection
18 No development before those parts of historic buildings that will be disturbed have been recorded Prior to each stage of demolition historic parts will be recorded The initial proposed change sought a blanket exemption for demolition phase. The actual proposal responds to our concerns that recording should be during, not after, demolition.
19 No development before contamination remediation scheme is approved Allow for demolition before scheme is approved As for Condition 4 above
20 No development until extent of any contamination has been assessed Allow for demolition before assessing contamination  As for Conditions 4 and 19 above
22 No development before sustainable drainage strategy is approved Allow for demolition before submitting strategy  No objection
23 No development before scheme is registered with Code for Sustainable Homes registration beody CSH now replaced by Building Regs. Allow for demolition first. No objection
24 No development until registered with BREEAM Allow demolition before registration  No objection
43  Approved plans Amendments to allow for demolition of Carriageworks rear wall and internal structure This was not included in our earlier discussions.

Changes sought in relation to the listed building consent are summarised as follows:

Condition Number Subject Change sought CAG’s initial comment
 4 No development before those parts of historic buildings that will be disturbed have been recorded Prior to each stage of demolition, survey and record historic parts  As for 18 above
 5  Approved plans Amendments to allow for demolition of Carriageworks rear wall and internal structure This was not included in our earlier discussions.

The application includes some drawings by Assael from the original planning application and some prepared more recently by Stride Tregowan, PG’s architects.  The main change is the proposed demolition of the rear wall and internal structure of the Carriageworks. The front facade will be retained and temporarily propped.

Other points that have arisen during the dialogue are:

  • Sight of the contamination plan and remediation strategy
  • The target level of sustainable design for the residential units now that the Code for Sustainable Homes has been abolished
  • Clarification on the BREEAM standard sought

Site Ownership

For information: The application form shows that the site is still owned by Opec Prime.  We understand that ownership will transfer to PG Group in early October.

Community Meeting

The application will be discussed at the Community Meeting on 4 September, 6pm at a venue to be confirmed. PG Group will be attending the meeting.

Stokes Croft balloon goes up

We came across this posted on Flickr by Paul Townsend

First Balloon Ascent from Bristol

The ascent from Stoke’s Croft, 24 September 1810

The crowds flocked into Bristol to witness the flight. The report in Felix Farley‘s Bristol Journal recorded how … ‘the crowd continued to increase, till the adjoining gardens, fields, and hills seemed one forest of people; arid all the windows, roofs, and the very trees, in the immediate neighbourhood, were covered with spectators.’

Sadler's balloon flightThe same report also describes in some detail the apparatus used to prepare the hydrogen with which the balloon was filled. This operation involved the familiar reaction between sulphuric acid and iron filings, but on a large scale — two and a half tons of filings were used on this occasion.

The same report also described the balloon: ‘This magnificent machine, the same in which Mr. Sadler ascended at Oxford, was made of silk, glazed or painted in ribs of green and light purple; it was about thirty yards in circumference, and the middle was enveloped by a circle, inscribed in letters of gold — Right Hon. Win. Windbam Grenville, Baro de Wotton, Cancel. Univers. Oxon.’

A watercolour of the balloon is in the City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. On the back of the drawing is written ‘Sketch by W. Edkins of the Ascent of Sadler’s Balloon from Bristol. Sadler was accompanied by Mr. Win. Clayfield. My father painted the banner held by Sadler in his Ascent. Win. Edkins Jnr.’

The fresh north-north.easterly wind carried the balloon over Leigh Down, where the acronauts dropped by parachute a small basket containing a cat. It was retrieved by a lime-burner and passed into the hands of a local doctor who appropriately christened it ‘Balloon.

They shortly passed over the coast, and recorded that as they neared Cardiff they drank the health of ‘Col. GORE and the Bristol Volunteers’. (The Volunteers had controlled the crowd while the preparations for the ascent were being made, allowing them to take place without hindrance). The balloon ‘Descended so low as to hear the shouts of the people, and the breakers between Barry and Scily Islands. (A typographic error, Sully was intended.) Fearing the main land could not be reached, and a current of air impelling the Balloon towards the sea, more ballast was thrown out, in doing which, Mr. SADLER lost his hat.’

The balloon continued its drift to mid-channel, but Sadler and Clayfield were able to check the descent by releasing a quantity of ballast. They recorded that as they neared the coast of Devon they drank ‘To all absent friends’; about half an hour later, off the small town of Linton, they again had to attempt to check the balloon’s descent.

They ‘threw out everything that could be parted with, including a great-coat, a valuable barometer, a thermometer, a speaking-trumpet, the grapling iron, — and even part of the interior covering of the Car, in the hope of reaching the main land about Barnstaple; but, owing to the exhaustion of the gas, the Balloon would not rise sufficiently . . .’ and they landed in the sea, about four miles from the land. Fortunately the event had been seen from the shore and a boat was launched immediately. It took an hour to reach them, and another two hours to completely deflate and secure the balloon.

The rescuers and rescued reached Linton at nine o’clock. An eventful day.

More details of the ascent, and the prospect of a riot on Stokes Croft when the flight was nearly cancelled, can be found in The Man With His Head in the Clouds: James Sadler, The First Englishman to Fly by Richard Smith, 2014.

PG Seek Changes to Planning Conditions

The CAG Liaison Group met with the new Carriageworks developers, PG Group, last week to discuss their plans for moving the development forwards.


PG Group are planning to start demolition of Westmoreland House (not the Carriageworks) in October.  Before they begin demolition, however, they have to ‘discharge’ all the relevant planning conditions. They will seek to amend some conditions so that they can carry out demolition first (see below).

Assuming everything goes to plan, construction will begin in January 2018.

Changes to Planning Conditions sought

There are 24 planning conditions (click this link for the Notice of Decision that sets out all the conditions) that have to be complied with before development can begin.  In planning terms, development is defined as any works on a site including demolition.  However, PG tell us that some of the design work required to discharge certain conditions can only be completed once demolition has taken place and they have access to the cleared site for further surveys etc.  To get around this problem they will be seeking an amendment to some of the conditions to allow demolition to take place beforehand.  It takes the Council 13 weeks to consider an application to amend a condition, so the timing is very very tight if they are to start demolition in October.

Click this link for PG’s full schedule of conditions that they want to amend. In summary they are:

Condition Number Subject Change sought
1 Start development wihtin 2 years None
2 No demolition before construction contract signed Allow demolition before construction contract signed (they will be separate contracts)
3 No development before materials and finishes approved Allow for demolition before approval
4 Remediate any contaminiation before development Allow for demolition before remediation
5 No development before construction management plan approved None
6 No development before bat roost protection agreed None
7 All development work to comply with ecological appriasal None
8 Protection of slow-worms during site clearance None
9 Landscaping scheme to be agreed before occupation None
10 No clearance of vegetation suitable for bird nesting during season (1 March to 30 Sept) None
11 Before development begins, speficiation of built-in bird nests and bat roosts to be agreed Allow for demolition before agreeing the spec
12 No development before local labour strategy agreed None
13 Sample panels of materials and finishes to be approved before construction of that element None
14 Public Art plan to be approved before construciton begins None
15 Cultural programme to be approved before construction work begins None
16 Roof dormers and replacement windows in Carriageworks to be approved before that part of the work begins None
17 No development until archaeological work is implemented  None
18 No development before those parts of historic buildings that will be disturbed have been recorded Allow for demolition before recording
19 No development before contamination remediation scheme is approved Allow for demolition before scheme is approved
20 No development until extent of any contamination has been assessed Allow for demolition before assessing contamination
21 Detailed drawings of roof elements and shop fronts to be approved before construciton of that element None
22 No development before sustainable drainage strategy is approved Allow for demolition before submitting strategy
23 No development before scheme is registered with Code for Sustainable Homes registration beody CSH now replaced by Building Regs. Allow for demolition first.
24 No development until registered with BREEAM Go for BREEAM “Very Good” on ground floor commercial units only. Allow demolition before registration

Note: this table is a summary so may miss some of the nuances.  To get the full picture, read both the Notice of Decision and PG’s proposed changes.

These changes will form the basis of a S.73 application to the City Council planners (and a S.19 application for the listed building consent). There will be notices put on the site to say that the application has been submitted.  The application wouldn’t normally go to the Planning Committee, although given the profile of the Carriageworks scheme it might have to. The City Council is meant to give its decision within 13 weeks.

While most of these changes appear logical, the Liaison Group has not yet given PG it’s formal response to the proposed changes. If you have any views do leave comments at the bottom of this page as soon as possible.

Workers on Site

Some site investigations (e.g. ecology, archaeology) have already started so you may see people in hard hats on the site. CAG has facilitated direct communication between the developers and the site residents re site access, safety etc.

Cultural Programme, Public Art, Local Employment and Management Plan

You may recall that the Planning Committee required the developer to work with CAG on Conditions 12, 13, 14, 15 and 29.  We are drafting outline proposals for how we think PG should develop these plans and how the local communities should be involved. PG will be wanting to submit the finished plans in October so again the timing is tight.

Community Meeting

The next community meeting will be on Monday 4th September at 6pm, venue to be confirmed.

Report from 14 June 2017 Community Meeting

The meeting was attended by c.50 people including members of the CAG Liaison Group (Lori Streich, Simon Lewis, Pete Bullard, Jeff Butterfield, Janine McCretton, Prue Hardwick, Julian Mellor), PG Group (Stuart Gaiger, Sam Woollcott and Jenny Gee), residents, councillors, reps of local and interested organisations, and media. Lori Streich, Chair of CAG, chaired the meeting.

Stuart Gaiger introduced the PG Group and their proposals for the Carriageworks.

  • PG Group has been developing property in Bristol since 2002. They tend to focus on residential schemes including new build, conversions and listed buildings. They work either in or within about 2 hours of Bristol, but Bristol is their focus. In the past they have taken on tricky and challenging sites (e.g. Bedminster Parade) but the Carriageworks will be the most challenging to date.
  • PG Group are buying the Carriageworks site. Stuart Gaiger stressed that Opecprime (the current owners) cannot pull out of the sale.
  • PG Group will deliver the scheme that went to Planning Committee in October 2015 so they will not be seeking to change the height, scale, mix or number of units. Appointment of the design team (architects, engineers, contractors etc) will be complete within the next month or so.
  • Construction will start in early 2018. The build programme will last 18-24 months, so aiming at completion in Autumn 2019.
  • Jenny Gee will provide community engagement on behalf of PG Group. She praised CAG for its work to date and is keen we work together. She will setup a website that will provide updates on progress with the proposals and enable people to leave comments.

Lori Streich stressed that CAG is committed to work with any developer that delivers the Community Vision. The details of how CAG and PG Group work together will evolve in time but at the very least we have a role defined by the planning permission.

There was then discussion between people attending and PG Group the main points of which were:

Site Acquisition

  • Can we be clear that Comer are not imposing any staged conditions along the way, that it is an outright sale?
    • SG: That is correct.
  • Can PG Group walk away?
    • SG: No. We’re committed.
  • Does PG Group own other properties in Stokes Croft?
    • SG: No


  • CAG has worked to change the scheme to get more vibrancy and connections with the neighbourhood. The site will direct the future direction of Stokes Croft, it is talismanic. How visionary will you be? Could there be parts of the scheme in community ownership? Need to make it really great – a benchmark for here and the rest of the country. Will you do something that is genuinely extraordinary and truly amazing?
    • SG: Yes! We want this to be an exemplar scheme. We don’t want to build bland schemes. Currently working through the mundane stuff but happy to have dialogue. The more input, especially regarding the ground floor, the more life we give to those areas. The units are more suited to small traders – we can do something different. We are under no illusion how important those buildings are. We support the Community Vision.
  • Commitment to community:
    • SG and SW: We are very vested in Bristol. All the money we have made on other schemes will be spent on this one. Our reputation in the city is important. A poor scheme will not do us any favours.
  • Are the opportunities for investment of social capital that might deliver different aims?
    • SG: The scheme is fully funded. It’s worth having the conversation about social capital and where it might apply, but have to make sure we know what we’re getting into and that we can deliver.

Site Proposals

  • Development partners:
    • PG Group do not employ their own builders so will contract with a construction company. They are working through tenders but likely that it will be a Bristol firm.
  • Will you revisit 9% affordable housing? Involvement of RSL could benefit everyone.
    • SG: We have arranged to meet the Homes and Communities Agency (and willing to meet BCC as well) to see what potential there might be for change. Don’t want to make changes if it means that a new planning application is required (considerable time and cost implications), but open to dialogue if it can be done without needing a new permission. SG stressed that they want to deliver the best scheme for the area and that they are looking to do what they can.
    • Lori committed CAG’s help if it means the scheme gets closer to the Community Vision (which states “We want to see a true mix of housing types for sale and for rent including private and social housing, both low and high cost”)
  • Any scope for underground parking?
    • SG: Don’t intend to provide more than the 6 spaces in the permission. Would require new planning permission. Proximity to city centre means a car isn’t necessary. Anticipate there is very heavy stone not far below the surface which would rule out underground parking. There will be provision for commercial deliveries.
  • Is there a Registered Social Landlord involved?
    • SG: No – whole development will be delivered by PG Group.
  • Can Carriageworks restoration be delivered within constraints of the existing planning permission?
    • SG: Engineers will have to assess the building. We know some parts are lost (e.g. fire damaged floors). The fact that the building still stands c.10 years after fire damage is a good sign. We’ll know more in the next few months.
  • Rear wall of Carriageworks building is damaged and has little merit but its retention constrains use of the building.
    • Quentin Alder (Chair of BCC Conservation Advisory Panel): Listing is of the whole building. There is always a balance – if there is little historic fabric remaining there could be an argument to start again. Planners will have to assess this.
    • Chris Chalkley: Godwin would have questioned everything and say look at it again with fresh eyes. When built, the Carriageworks was all about the facade – the world’s first showroom.

Building Works

  • Phasing:
    • The scheme will be built as one phase although it is likely that some parts will be completed before others.
  • Presence on site:
    • Contractors will have site office. Likely that SG will be mostly based there.
  • What is happening with the Travellers on the site?
    • Prue: At both parties’ request CAG facilitated a meeting between the travellers and PG Group. They are now in direct contact and working with each other. CAG is still there if needed but otherwise we’ll let them get on with things.
  • Will there be road closures?
    • SG: Not yet at the stage of knowing. Contractor will put together a site access and delivery plan. Likely to be pavement closure outside the Carriageworks building. Will find ways of dealing with this closer to the time.
    • Lori: Likely to be tricky given site constraints. CAG has suggestions for Highways. Lets talk when we get there.

After Completion of Works

  • Post development management company:
    • Likely to be one company to maintain the residential areas and another to manage the ground floor.
  • Does PG Group intend to retain ownership of commercial units?
    • SG: Would like to retain, but key thing is to get the right occupiers, flavour and mix. Some may want to buy, others to rent. Nothing set in stone but definitely don’t want boarded up units or the wrong occupiers. Flexibility is key.

What would Godwin do?

People liked the idea that this would be a good question to ask as proposals develop.

What Happens Next?

  • PG Group will appoint design team and contractor
  • PG Group will carry out site surveys through the summer (access by arrangement with the site residents)
  • Next meeting with CAG in early September by when the site challenges etc will be better understood. Contractors will attend.


The Bristol Post also reported on the meeting:


Marc Pennick wishes us ‘Good Luck’

Statement from Fifth Capital London

I’m aware that you had your meeting tonight (Wed 14 June) and hope the developer and community can work together and deliver this exciting opportunity.

When I picked PG Group I believed this was the best outcome for all concerned.

When I started this journey I generally had the interest of the community in mind but probably didn’t have a true understanding of the area, it’s complexities and all those involved. Over this journey I have grown to understand and highly respect the work that the Carriageworks Action Group does and I truly believe we would not have reached this outcome without such proactive involvement. I hope all concerned will agree that this has overall been a positive process, with the community interests at the heart whilst still trying to balance a sense of commerciality that will hopefully mean a successful delivery.

Wishing all concerned the very best of luck. I look forward to visiting the completed regeneration.

Kindest Regards

Marc Pennick

Press Release from PG Group

This is the press release issued today (14 June 2017) by the PG Group


A major regeneration project creating new homes is to go ahead at Stokes Croft in the heart of Bristol following full community consultations.

City developers, the PG Group, have acquired the derelict Westmoreland House, a six storey1960s built concrete framed office block which has been empty for 35 years and condemned as an eyesore by residents.

The deal also includes purchase of the adjoining historic Grade Two listed Carriage Works building which dates back to 1862 and is one of the West Country’s top ten most at risk heritages sites.

Local residents have been campaigning over a considerable time for action on the site which includes a yesteryear showroom for Victorian carriages.

PG Development Director Stuart Gaiger said the demolition of Westmoreland House and the restoration of the Carriage Works would create 112 new homes, as well as a ten business units.

“We have acquired the site, which was granted planning consent in July last year, from Opecprime Properties Ltd, and will now start work on a wide range of preliminary assessments,” he said.

Mr Gaiger said purchase of Westmoreland House would allow the creation of a development that could contribute positively to an already vibrant community and that consultations with the Carriage Works action Group and other local community interests would begin shortly.

” We want to deliver an enterprising development that respects and reflects the community ethos and, given the independent spirit that flourishes around the area,we look forward to some lively and interesting discussions.”

Mr Gaiger said PG hoped to start work on the two year project in the autumn but could reassure local people that the company was not looking to materially alter the existing permission.

PG Group, who have build up a fine reputation as regeneration specialists in and around the city, are currently completing conversion of the 1970s-built Lewins Place office complex into 148 new homes.