What we think of Fifth Capital’s proposals

Over the last few weeks you may have seen publicity by Fifth Capital about their latest proposals for the site. Given the calibre of their consultants you might not be surprised to be told that the designs are at least reasonably impressive. Having looked at them in a bit more depth, however, we retain significant reservations.

Firstly we remain unconvinced that Fifth Capital will build anything.

  • We have asked them to provide information about their track record. They have told us about a number of developments but none of the documents provided or our own research has linked the sites or the development proposals to Fifth Capital or its Directors.
  • We have asked them to provide information about their funding, just as Knightstone was required to provide. We even said that this would be treated in the strictest confidence. Fifth Capital have refused to provide any information beyond saying that it is coming from private investors.
  • There is a history of coincidence: whenever the City Council has started to use compulsory purchase powers the owners, Comer Homes, have applied for planning permission which then undermines the CPO process. The applicant may be different this time, but is the intent?

Secondly we have reservations about what they intend to build:

  • There is no through route permeating the site. This is one of the key principles in the Community Vision and helps underpin links with the community and a vibrant mix of ground floor uses. Without the through route our concern is that the site will eventually become a gated community.
  • There are no proposals for affordable housing. This may change by the time they submit their planning application but so far there have been no details.
  • While they say that there will be space for small businesses etc they have not said how this will be secured long term or how it will be managed.
  • We are concerned that they will play off community aspirations for vibrant ground floor uses with wider social needs for affordable housing. They will tell the Council it is their choice. It is then likely that affordable housing will win. The ground floor will then revert to occupation by the highest bidders, most of whom will be corporate multiples.
  • Introducing a London arts consultancy, Future City, to develop a ‘cultural strategy’ for the site seems parasitical when our own city is full of the skills and heritage needed to do the job.
  • There is no information how, in the long term, the space for small businesses, community uses, workshops etc will be seured.
  • There is no clarity on long term management.  We would like to think that there will be a commitment to active management that engages with the wider community. We suspect it will just be another management company like any other block of flats.

What do 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 ideas@carriageworks.org.uk

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2 thoughts on “What we think of Fifth Capital’s proposals

  1. Fifth Capital is absolutely committed to designing and building a scheme that does justice to the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site.

    We know that there is a lot of passion about the site’s future – and that it has a long history of dereliction and failed attempts to bring forward development. We have put together a strong team and feel that Assael Architecture have created a really good set of proposals. We are new to the site, but this is an opportunity for a fresh start and we are committed to seeing this project through.

    We are pleased that, whatever the other concerns are, there seems to be agreement that these are impressive designs that celebrate the historic character of the site, and that local people have found that there is a lot they can support, including proposals to:

    • Renovate the Grade II* listed Carriageworks building
    • Demolish Westmoreland House and No.4 Ashley Road
    • Create at least 108 new private and affordable homes, with a mix of sizes
    • 700 sq.m of commercial or community spaces at the ground floor level
    • A new public space accessed via the Carriageworks arches.
    • High quality architecture and materials throughout the scheme
    • Improvements to biodiversity and sustainability throughout the site

    You can find all the details of our proposals at our website http://www.bristolcarriageworks.com. We have had several constructive pre-application meetings with Bristol City Council, our designs are now well progressed and we expect to submit a planning application soon.

    At the same time there are still several aspects that are still under discussion. In particular, we have made a clear commitment that there will be affordable housing as part of the development, but the exact mix and location is still under discussion with Bristol.

    Similarly we have said that we want independent shops and cultural uses to create a vibrant and active ground floor, all the way along Stokes Croft and round into Ashley Road. Retail chains and supermarkets like Tesco would be wrong for the site and we have ruled them out.

    This will not be a gated community. That will require careful and active management to ensure that the spaces we create are maintained to the highest standard and don’t become a focus for anti-social behaviour.

    If you have any questions about the development or would like to get in touch then please contact the team on carriageworks@fourcommunications.com.

    Fifth Capital London

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    • Fifth Capital’s PR company rang about the delay in publishing their comments – something about transparency apparently.

      Unlike them we don’t have legions of people ready to respond to the second, so sometimes there is a delay in approving comments.

      We are of course happy to publish their comments, as we are anyone elses. Don’t expect the same treatment on their website though – no comments allowed!

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