What Fifth Capital told the Community Meeting 14 Jan 2015

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.

UPDATE

Fifth Capital have sent their response to the questions raised.  Click this link to see what they said (opens pdf in new window)

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