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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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