Community Meeting 27 Nov, and roundup of recent events

Things have really started happening at the Carriageworks.  And there’s a community meeting on 27 November to find out more (details at the bottom of this page).

Vacant Possession

On 8th October the site residents packed up and ended their long guardianship of the site. Thank you from CAG to everyone who lived on the site over the years, thank you for being part of the community and thank you for keeping it safe.  And good luck with wherever life takes you. You can read more about the last night and the handover on our website.

On 9th October Comer’s security company arrived to take possession of the site. This cleared the way for PG Group to set a date to complete their purchase (they had exchanged contracts earlier in the year with completion being conditional upon vacant possession).

Planning

In late September the PG Group’s planning consultants applied to discharge various planning conditions.  They are also in the process of appointing consultants to prepare the cultural plan for the development (as discussed at last meeting).

Change of Ownership

On 6th November we heard from Marc Pennick that PG Group had completed their purchase and became the legal owners of the Carriageworks.  After 30 years of ownership Comer is gone. This in itself is a major step forward and makes redevelopment of the site infinitely more likely to proceed. Read more on our website.

From 6 November PG Group started distributing a letter to all local residents telling them what will be happening on the site.  Read a summary and download the letter from our website.

Activities on Site

Since the site residents left PG Group have had surveyors and engineers on the site working out the details of the next steps. They now plan to start demolition of Westmorland House (not the old Carriageworks building) in January and start redevelopment in March / April.

CAG are maintaining close contact with PG Group.

Community Meeting

We’ll be holding our next Community Meeting on Monday 27 November at Kings Centre, King Square from 6-8pm.  This will be a chance not only to celebrate the change of ownership but also to understand what will be happening in the coming months and discuss CAG’s input.  PG Group won’t be at this meeting but will be coming to the following meeting in the new year.

We look forward to seeing you next Monday.

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Information letter from PG Group to local households

PG Group have delivered an information letter to every household close to the Carriageworks site.   Key points are:

  • Demolition of Westmorland House (not the Carriageworks) is likely to start in January
  • Construction will start in March / April 2018
  • As the development progresses there will be regular updates on the site hoardings, letters to householders and the PG Group’s project website.

PG Group will be invited to attend CAG’s community meetings in the coming months.

Click to the letter below to open PDF.

Household letter from PG Group 7 November 2017

Carriageworks finally has new owners

The development of Bristol’s biggest eyesore moved closer last week. Bristol based PG Group completed its purchase of the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site on Stokes Croft. They have pledged to build it in accordance with the Planning Permission that was granted in October 2015.

The site has been empty and derelict since the mid 1980s. The Carriageworks Action Group (CAG) has been working with members of the local communities that surround it to secure redevelopment. CAG was set up in 2011 and is committed to work with any developer who will develop the site in line with the Community Vision for the Carriageworks. This was drawn up through extensive consultation with over 1600 people, and sets out a vision for this central Bristol site.

Lori Streich, Chair of CAG, said that the group has been in dialogue with the PG Group about their plans for the site. “We welcome the change of ownership and believe that the PG Group will finally put an end to 30 years of blight on this gateway site. We want to continue to work with them to ensure that the final scheme is an exemplary development that is both acceptable to the community and viable for a developer.”

The Carriageworks Action Group will be arranging a Community Meeting in the next few weeks, at which more details will be available.

Notes

  • The Carriageworks Action Group (CAG) was set up 2011 to work with Bristol City Council to secure redevelopment of the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site. This had been owned but left derelict by the Comer Group/OpecPrime since 1989.
  • Planning Permission was granted to Fifth Capital London in October 2015. CAG had a robust dialogue with Marc Pennick, Director of Fifth Capital, and his architects, which led to significant improvements to an initial Planning Application for the controversial site. Fifth Capital London then enabled the sale of the site to PG Group.
  • Bristol based PG Group has now completed the purchase of the site and will develop it in accordance with the October 2015 Planning Permission
  • CAG is committed to work with any developer who will develop the site in line with the Community Vision.

Community Vision:

  • The Community Vision for the Carriageworks was developed in 2011 following consultation with over 1,600 people.
  • It is framed in planning terms and sets out broad aspirations for the development of the site. Two Planning Committee (Development Control Committee A) meetings considered Fifth Capital London’s proposals for the site. Both acknowledged the importance of the Community Vision, and the role of CAG, in the process of the site receiving Planning Permission. When Planning Permission was finally granted, it was agreed that CAG should be involved in dialogue about the scheme as it develops.

Planning Permission:

 

Site residents move off

The long term residents of the Carriageworks have now left the site.

The Carriageworks and Westmorland House have been derelict for as long as most people now living in the area can remember.  It is a rotting hulk, a ruin to explore, a canvas for artists and even, tragically, the place of death for a number of people.

Some years ago with the fatalities increasing, the owners of the site, Opecprime / Comer Homes, agreed to allow a group of people to set up home on the backland in return for them keeping trespassers away.  For many years they did this successfully, living alongside the rest of the community and otherwise going about their regular lives.

The site residents had discussed the future redevelopment of the site with CAG and subsequently Fifth Capital’s Marc Pennick.  They weren’t opposed to development but asked for time to move off as and when. Marc promised that he would give them six months notice.  In the meantime everyone was happy that they kept the site secure.

It was therefore something of a surprise when a Notice of Trespass appeared on the gates in March. The residents went to Court and, supported by CAG, argued their case that they were there with the consent of the owner. The Judge agreed and set a second hearing in May when agreement was reached for the residents to be able to stay on the site until October.

On Saturday 7th October the residents celebrated their last night on the site.  They’d spent the previous weeks moving equipment away and cleaning things up.  The party was a long goodbye, going on well into Sunday morning until the DJ played out with ‘Hit the Road Jack”.  And with that an era came to an end.

It had been intended that Comers’ security company would arrive to take over possession of the site that morning, but they didn’t.  Some of the residents therefore stayed on to keep things secure overnight.  The next morning the security finally arrived and the keys were handed over.

With Comer now in vacant possession of the site the purchase by PG Group can be completed.  We understand that this can be after 20 days – so 29th October should just about do it.

So thank you to everyone who lived on the site over the years, thank you for being part of the community and thank you for keeping it safe.  And good luck with wherever life takes you.

Notes of Community Meeting, 4 September 2017

32 people attended including reps of PG Group and their consultants, CAG Liaison Group and residents, businesses and other interested parties. Thangam Debbonaire MP called in briefly before the start.

Order of summary below is rearranged for logic and convenience so may not reflect actual order of the discussions.

Changes to Planning Conditions

A summary of the proposed changes was circulated (click to download pdf). Main focus to date of discussions between CAG Liaison Group and PG Group has been variations to the pre-commencement conditions to the planning permission. Focus is on phasing a complicated set of conditions to allow things to happen in more rational and workable order e.g. allow for demolition of building before carrying out historical investigation below.

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What is the Carriageworks Cultural Plan?

When Fifth Capital were granted planning permission back in October 2015 one of the conditions stated:

Prior to the commencement of any construction works for the development a Cultural Programme Delivery Plan shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. This shall set out the details of the Cultural Programme Steering Group, co-ordinated by an appointed programme manager. This Delivery Plan shall set out clear principles for the delivery of cultural projects to be delivered within the site. Reason: In the interests of the proper management of the site.

It was also a requirement of the permission that the developers consult and work with local stakeholders, including the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG), on certain planning conditions including the cultural plan, public art, local employment, long term management and external finishes.

From the outset, when we submitted a Cultural Strategy Position Paper (pdf) to PG, CAG has believed that the Cultural Plan should encompass all the cultural aspects of the scheme i.e. economic, environmental and social. As such it can address local employment, long term managment, public art etc. We fully accept that it cannot redefine or change the development, but there are still opportunities to consider and influence how the scheme will be impacted by and impact upon the local area and its culture in the short and long term.

When the Liaison Group met with PG on 12 July it was agreed that we should draft a specification for the Cultural Plan and suggest organisations that might be able to prepare it. Click to read our draft specification (pdf).  When we met again on 30 August there was a lively debate about the Plan, its purpose and who should write it with PG’s consultants taking a different view of its function and its commissioning.  There will likely be further discussion at the Community Meeting on 4 September.