Carriageworks @ Bristol Planning Committee

This is a rough transcript of the Council’s planning meeting which started at 6pm on Wednesday 8 April 2015 and finished at 8:30pm. To read the notes start at the bottom and work upwards.

We’re knackered. Gone to the pub. Here’s to next time, after the election. [Note: next scheduled meeting for Development Control Ctte A is 15 July]

Chair. No other issues.

Vote on the recommentdation. 3 for. 7 against.  Chair: that doesn’t mean we refuse permission yet – it’s just a vote on the recommendation.

Chair: the many objections are understandable if not valid in planning terms. Heard Committee has many concerns. However, I don’t think refusal will stand at appeal. A lot of unresolved issues that we need to try to flesh out.  Going to propose that I want to defer and give Officers a list of issues to work on with applicants and CAG:

  1. Issue of cycle parking for visitors
  2. Haven’t seen to address relationship with 108 Stokes Croft
  3. Over bearing elevation on Ashley Road
  4. Lack of contribution to junction.
  5. Issue of Condition 27 – need greater certainty on use of units. Need clarify to make a judgement. Too much blank slate – need to know what uses go where.
  6. On-site renewables. Must consider alternatives and flesh out the options.
  7. Would like to see a condition on the gates.
  8. Expect officers to look at Condition 1 – want to see it developed and not standing as a ruin – want a positive intention to build and not just sell on at a profit.

Cllr Breckells: Look at affordable housing – need some affordable rent as well as shared ownership. Fail to see how with prices wanted that they can’t increase the amount of affordable. Chair disagrees – doesn’t want to reopen the issue – too risky.

Cllr Milestone: concerned at no budget on archaeology. (it’s a condition). And would like to see them working with a social housing partner.

Cllr Hance: can we beef up requirement to work with CAG? Chair: lets use time until next meeting to address concerns. Don’t want to be too specific. But vitally important that they work with CAG.

Vote: 8 in favour. 1 against. 1 abstention.

Cllr Pearce.  Contextually the Ashley Road elevation does not feel right.

Cllr Breckells.  Feels like it closes the road in. Maybe should be further back at very least. And collosal gates in a non-gated scheme!!

Cllr Hence (LD). Have greatest unease with the application. Issue of light at 108 Stokes Croft. To the lay person it does look like a narrow well. Can we explore this and the detailed submissions?

PW not sure of what to point to. Shows boundary of application and line of 4m wall that is 1 to 3 window widths (no one can calculate the distance!) from the rear of 108 Stokes Croft. Guess at 5m. Chair: the point is it is not very much. Q: Have officers visited. PW: No.

Cllr Milestone: Concerned that Dr Wright has had to sit out. Chair clarifies that Cllrs should approach decision with completely open mind and willing to hear from both sides. Cllr Wright said that he didn’t think he had an open mind.

Cllr Khan.  This is very contentious issue.  Wish I could have arrived earlier. Hope any decision will consider both sides clearly. We can all see the sentiment.

Chair: Cllr Khan arrived late so can’t vote or speak. Crowd points out that Chair was late as well!  Chair remarks that he arrived before the item began. Code of conduct says Cllr must be present for all items – Cllr was late and did not hear all the comments.

Chair asks about S106 contributions. We seem to hear this will have a small impact.  But if its car free there will be huge impact on bus infrastructure.  Why has this not been investigated.

Transport Planner responds: Previously we have sought contributions to the junction but Planning Inspector in 2011 said this wasn’t appropriate. We believe the junciton needs to be addressed and this scheme could have done it. But Inspector disagrees.

Jim Cliffe: Once the CIL came in in Jan 2013 our ability to secure contributions for a range of things changed. So no longer get money specifically from development for parks etc.

Chair: How much weight can we give to Community Vision. PW: I have implored the applicants to have regard and take it very seriously. Part of the judgement is how successful they have been in that.  Letter of the law requires regard to be had to the vision although I have taken it a lot more seriously. In terms of engaging with the community I think the applicants have done a reasonable job in seeking views of the community although it is clear that there are a lot of people aware of details of the application – much more than normal.

Cllr Lucas (Con).  On planning grounds it is straight forward, but not on community grounds.

As development control committee we have to follow guidelines, material considerations etc. Despite all the comments made I can not see grounds to refuse. It will come back to haunt us.

I reluctantly support officers recommendation.

Cllr Smith (Lab).  Struggling.  Some of grounds for refusal will not hold water.

However, relationship between new building and 108 Stokes Croft is not addressed.

Access of light into the development and impact on amenity on residents is not satisfactory.

Issues of overlooking and massing of the development will persuade me to vote against but prepared to listen to any other arguments.

Cllr Milestone (Lab) – Lack of proper equalities impact assessment. Chair asks officers to clarify. PW: Application is lifetime homes compliant. Pavements are covered by CIL contribution.

Bristol Disability Forum never had answer to their questions. Senior planning officer claims scheme is not viable but this has not been presented to the committee.

Application will divide the community.

Applicant has not track record. Chair says that must not form part of our consideration. Cannot let details of the applicant affect our judgement – not a material consideration.

Chair asks if we have passed the period in which appeal for non-determination can be submitted. Gary Collins: the expiry date for 30 weeks was 3 March so applicants could appeal if we fail to make decision. They have 6 months to decide on that from 3 March.

Chair asks about affordable housing policy. Can we not still say that even if its not viable that the amount of housing is not acceptable? Jim Cliffe: answer is ‘No’ – Government is keen to see development come forward.

Chair asks about the commercial uses – condition 27 is not clear in what its trying to achieve.  P Westbury accepts it could be tightened. Tries to achieve an operational management plan.

Chair asks about on-site renewables. Policy DCS14. PW: 5% is the most they could achieve. No evidence of considering other technologies.

Chair asks about long term dereliction. Concern that this application will stall devleopment but not get built out. Condition one gives 3 years to build. Can we make that period shorter? Gary Collins: We do have some discretion – we have done it in the past (Easton Choc Factory).

Gated community – can we condition that it is never gated? PW: we could and legally.

Cllr Fodor (Green).  Good that there’s an attempt at redevelopment, but community process was rigorous. Wished that owner had wanted to respond in a meaningful way.

The statement of community involvement (SCI) really lets the proposals down. Really disappointed.  A serious devleoper would have responded to all the ideas.

The lack of disabled access is disappointing. There would have been an opportunity to negotiate to widen the pavements, to have a less dominant facade on Ashley Road. A classic example of town cramming.

For all the requests of the police for gates everywhere, this should not be how its designed.

The SCI is so week.

You only gave us 3 reasons why we had to accept. No comment on the other issues whether good or bad.

Cllr Pearce (Lab).  Only its mother could love this.

There are concerns about lack of affordability. Don’t like impact on 108 Stokes Croft (grateful to public forum for enabling concerns to be raised) and concerns have not been addressed.

Issues around light are of particular concern.

Concerns around disabled parking. Problem of interaction between disabled drivers wishing to get out when delivery trucks are parked in their way. Has not been well thought through.

Concerned at lack of clarity or legibility to the permeability of the site. Not obvious that you can get through. Permeability and footfall lead to safety so we want as many as possible going through. And give pedestrians respite from the busy junction.

Hope that someone can give me some comfort on these issues, but not holding out hope. This is not a comprehensive list of the problems but it’s a start.

Cllr Eddy (Con). Disgrace that the site has waited redevelopment for 30 years. Four main issues.

  1. Is there an alternative scheme but we can’t consider that.
  2. Is there enough affordable housing? But we don’t want to stop redevelopment.
  3. Gated community – convinced that assurances are correct and conditions meet problems.
  4. Minor urban design issues are addressed.

Happy to support.

Cllr Hance. We all want to see the site developed but it’s a hard proposal. Incurred wrath of everyone. Even offended Sean the Sheep. The report does not address concerns of adjoining owners. Concern that unredacted report only came out last night. An issue of areas of concern that are not addressed – due consideration has not been given to allow us to approve.

Cllr Breckels (Lab). I’m not happy with proposals on a number of grounds. It’s economic cleansing. The prices are crazy.

The size of the bulding is collosal. There is over development. Issues of light for Tuckets building have not been looked into. I will vote against.

Questions from Councillors.

Peter Westbury – case officer.  As of 5pm this evening there have been many more objections.

3 major issues to highlight and offer guidance on.

  1. Affordable housing
  2. Gated community
  3. Gentrification.

1. Jim Cliffe speaks on affordable housing. He’s the Planning obligation manager. Affordable housing is a thorny issue.  Will go through Council policies in detail to ensure everyone understands what they say and how they work.

Affordable housing is not necessarily cheap to buy. It is defined by govt as owned or managed by a housing assoc under social rent, shared ownership or affordable rent. Developer has offered 8 units of shared ownership units. Remainder of the units will be sold or rented on the market.

BCC affordable housing policy is BCS17 of Core Strategy. That seeks 40% affordable housing from major development in city centre. But this is subject to scheme viability. So can be anything between 40% and 0% can be acceptable depending upon viability of the scheme. Important to note the actual wording of our policy: “Affordable housing will be required in resi developmet of 15 or more. The following targets will be sought through negotiation. Where scheme viability may be affected, developers will be expected to provdie full proposals to show alternative.” So if an assessment of viability demonstrates it is viable then that is acceptable. This is common to almost all planning authorities as required by planning inspectors.

During last 4-5 years they have been very clear that planners should not require obligations that will stop development coming forward.

In Bristol the level of affordable housing we require can vary from site to site. St Mathias provides the full complement. St Catherines Place , Bedminsterwas granted with 0 affordable housing, primarily because of low values and cost of the building.

Sites with listed buildings have higher build costs. Useful to put W Hse into context: Electricity House at end of Colston House (conversion to 85 units with no on-site contributions) and Huller House (Redcliffe Backs) granted permission fro 55 dwellings with £ contributions of £161k off site. At W Hse the contribution is worth about £900k.

Upside London provided viability and officers commissioned BNP Parisbas to assess the viability. They have detailed understanding of the site as at the last planning appeal in 2011 they advised the Council. They looked at the information provided, ran their own appraisal and concluded that the viability appraisal was reasonable.  Rare for this to happen. Concluded 8 units was max for the scheme to remain viable along with the CIL contributions. They recommended acceptance of the offer. On basis of this the Officers cannot recommend refusal. Clearly of the view that a refusal of planning permission based on lack of social housing could not be defended at appeal.

2. Gated Community

Back to Peter Westbury. Officers do not support view that this will create a gated community. Application cannot be refused based on predictions of the future. The application shows the gates will be open and there will be public access.  We propose conditions with a clear strategy for use of the public spaces to ensure they are truly public. I could not defend

3. Gentrification

A clear love for the site and the wider area. Gentrification and concern about who might live there cannot be taken into account. Concern about impact on the area cannot be taken into account.

Lots of interruptions – Chair says he will ask people to leave if it continues.

Slides being shown. Ariel photo of site and 3D view of application proposal. Nothing is taller than Tuckets building, as required by Planning Inspector in 2011.

Proposed ground floor has gates. Walkway right the way through the site.

Pictures of Stokes Croft and Ashley Rd elevations existing and proposed. Sections of the development.

More interruptions. Chair says he will clear the public gallery and committee will meet privately. Cannot have interruptions of Officers.  Last warning.

Peter Westbury continues. Photo montages.

4 Ashley Road. Acceptable for it to be lost.

Gary Collins, Service Manager Development Management. Stresses to committee to remind them that the site is well known, proposals have generated lots of comments and passionate objections but also support from various bodies and groups. Three issues to draw attention to:

1. The intentions of the owners

2. Likely occupiers of commercial units

3. Possibility of a better proposal that is more in tune with the Vision.

We advise you that these should not be given any weight in decision making as not material considerations. Also CPO is not for the consideration of this committee.  Your role is to sit as a dispassionate planning authority making a regulatory decision based on the merits of the scheme haveing regard to policies and other material consideration.

Chair now inviting Officers to present. No more opportunity for public comment.

Matthew Strange. This is a site at the heart of many communities.

We need open books. The idea that there is no alternative?! There are alternatives on the table.

We shouldn’t squeeze every last penny from every inch of space. People should be proud fo Stokes Croft, St Pauls, Glos Road. Independent culture, commerce, economy that makes the city and draws people to Bristol. A development with no concern for the community will be truly devestating for communities, rents, homeless.

Mary Southcott. Works in St Pauls. Since 2013 we have been consulting about Westmoreland House asking if it is a gateway. These plans are a gateway to nowhere. It creates a ghetto  on the inside that turns its back on the people of St Pauls. Been consulting with Somalis, Jamaicans etc. They feel they are being turned away from the development. Want to see the scheme rejected.

Cllr Wright. The plans have showed nothing more than lipservice to the Community Vision.

The lack of affordable housing is the main reason the plans can not go ahead. We have got into the habit of waiving our requirements as if we were still in recession. The viability reports are a complete joke.

The plans have support of amenity groups. There are probably two reasons. 1. the desire to see something done to reverse the blight. But don’t forget we have had the CPO process that is still going, albeit slowly. It’s not Fifth Capital or nothing. 2. The Knightstone plans proposed to keep Westmoreland House. Personally I don’t think that’s a good idea – it might have pushed some people into supporting Fifth Capital. But the K plans are not final – they are evolving, maybe W House can go.

Urge you to reject the plans.

Chris Chalkley. Clear reasons why this should be rejected.

But what is most important is that the proposal is private gread v. public need. We have lived with dereliction for 30 years. We have forged our own path, with alternative thinking remaining strong. The buildings will define the future character. We went through the process of creating the Vision. The Fifth Capital scheme does not respect it.

Godwin was to the arts what Brunel was to engineering. He has been overlooked in this city. The regeneration of his most significant building should be a belated homage not an opportunity to make profit.

Godwin railed against short sitedness of those who hold the purse strings.

This should be an opportunity to confirm our green credentials. If we can’t create alternatives here there where can we?

Urge councillors to consider the planning reasons but also be mindful of the will of the community of Stokes Croft.

Dominic Taylor (owner of Tuckets buidling and architect).  Points relate to our three buildings.

1. Serious irregularities in the drawings. They do not depict what exists and what is proposed. Don’t show the Victorian glazed roofs to businesses or large roof terrace and its entrance. Elevations are drawn incorrectly – show space wrong.

2. Application does not comply with national policy on privacy and natural light. New development should safeguard existing amenity.

100% sunlight loss in some areas. (Lots of technical info – can’t keep up!)

Planning Committee are not in receipt of all the facts.

Interruption from member of the public who wants to speak.  Chair says only statements from people who have submitted in advance.

Cllr Talbot. Affordable housing cannot be emphasis enough. 7% will not suffice for this community. The market value for these properties is £2-300k range. Developers must live up to their responsibilities.

You will rip heart out the community. You will ride rough shod over the Vision. That will be beyond the pale esp. with amount of opposition.

I personally feel no car development is OK – but is there enough cycle parking? We only have 12 visitor stands in the plans. That needs to be much more. How will additional cars in the area be dealt with?

We don’t know enough about how the community use will apear. There needs to be more space for the community. For so long it has been closed – community needs now to access it and people able to spend time there.

Salvation Army did an exemplorary consultation on their scheme to fit better with the local area. That is responsible development. Why have Fifth Capital not done that?  Community needs a say in this developmet – we haven’t had one.

Cllr Hoyt. We talk about Stokes Croft but this will lie in the middle of St Pauls community, an area in greatest need for affordable housing.  Our policies recommend min of 30%. Need varied tenants in all the types of unit. Lack of affordable, and complete lack of social housing.

Good to hear the developer on the radio saying that there will be no gates. But this must be an empty promise. It is designed as a gated community. Only time before people complain about intruders etc. Gates will destroy the neighbourhood.

If a developer cannot afford to develop then we should not allow them to so.

7% affordable homes is a betrayal of our policy. This is a line in the sand moment for the committee.

David Redgewell, South Bristol Transport Network. Have met Fifth a number of times. Disappointed in lack of social housing. Also concerns of Disability Panel but these are not reflected in the officer’s report. Disabled people forced to live in suburbs due to lack of affordable housing.

Other concerns are road access – site needs to be fully accessible and not be gated in any way. Also concerns about transportation re pavements and transport in the area. DoT standards should be met.

We are concerned that while we don’t have an issue with tenure we believe there are standards in core strategy to create affordability in the city centre. We cannot have a situation of only 7 units when standard is 30%.

Carriageworks should not be saved at expense of providing housing for people of Bristol. We will create a regeneration ghetto which local people cannot live in.

Need a better S106 agreement with contributions to bus infrastructure etc.

Prue speaking on behalf of Simon Lewis who is ill.  Two sides to this discussion. One side says there’s lots of opposition. The other says theres broadly positive support. They can’t both be right. He is requesting that in the light of everything being out in the open that Fifth Capital be invited to consult again. We understand that a scheme has to be viable. But at the moment it is not what people want. There must be a way of bringing people together. Do not give permission unless further consultation takes place in an atmosphere of openess and honesty.

Jeff Butterfield. Over bearing and over shadowing effects.  The shadows will seriously affect the Tuckets building and its resident businesses with loss of light.

Development blights neighbouring properties. The view along Picton St will have daylight reduced.

Prue Hardwick. My concern is the non-residential elements. They say they’ve taken the vision into account. That’s crap! The ground floor is the public’s only chance to access the site. Vision called for genuine access on the main road and inside.

Developer says there is no specific plan. That is not lively. We need something vibrant all the way through the site – not a rich man’s prison in an enclosed space.

A lot of vagueness with the scheme. Please insist it is specific. The Council is leaving all the decisions about what is appropriate to Stokes Croft to the developer – but this is the person who understands so little about Bristol that he insulted Shaun the Sheep!

Keep Bristol’s individuality.  Carriageworks needs stunning, imaginative, something wonderful to bring something to the whole city. The lack of any plan for the non-resi space is dreadful ommission. You must turn this down.  Huge applause.

Hugh Nettelfield for CAG. For a scheme of over 25 units the Council will seek a minimum of 30% affordable with specific addressing of need for family sized accom. But we see only 8 shared ownership and no social housing. 50% of all units are single bedroom.  No affordable family.

A viability statement was issued yesterday. It demonstrated that no more affordable units could be afforded. But value of flats is over inflated, construction costs are historic to 2014, no budget for archaeology etc.

People of Bristol will not stand by if cshemes like this are given planning permission. Need significant improvements before permission is given.

Lori speaking for CAG. I’m confused because the scheme described is not the one we’ve been looking at. We know the site is an eye-sore – it has blighted us for decades. CAG brings together people who live, work and have businesses in the area. We want something that benefits the communities – this scheme does not. Churchill quote.

This will be a clone scheme. Will create expensive ghettos on the inside with the poor outside.

Situated in one of the most deprived communities in Bristol.

24 units of family housing.  But they will cost £300-375,000 per unit. Does not meet local needs.

Urge councillors to support BCC own policies on affordable housing. Mixed and balanced communities. Expensive properties will not create  balanced communities.

Need a management community that will manage in the long term in the interests of the community.

We want open community involvement to meet aims of the Vision. These proposals do not.

We will work with any developer who genuinely engages with us.  A building is for life. We’ve lived with this for a long time. Don’t want a development at any price. Urge rejection unless significant improvements can be made before giving permission.

Two neutral statements received but submitters not here.

Joel Baily-Lane representing Kingsdown Conservation Group. We have talked at length about the scheme. We have a pragmatic view. The scheme ticks most boxes. Most important thing is that something happens. This scheme is preferable to Knighttone as massing is better, views from surrounding area are better. We think that it is permeable. Part is for residents but rest is open. We think this scheme is one where the conditions appended to the consent will make a difference. Quality of architecture is important. If there are conditions about sample materials then that will be welcome.

Godwin is important. Furniture held by BCC should be incporporated in a permanent exhibition in the building.

Westmoreland House graffitti is of historic importance. Some of that should be used in the scheme.

John Assael. Has worked with 21 other consultants on this scheme. Met with many stakeholders in 13 meetings.

CAG vision has been substantiall followed. We moved forward the Knightstone scheme which council officers and EH had concerns about. We secure future of heritage asset – welcomed by Vic Soc.

Knigthstone proposed keeping Westmoreland House. We don’t do this. We demolish which is welcomed by most parties.

The active frontages inside the site would have undermined Stokes Croft traders so we don’t have them inside – instead active uses to enyuance high street.

Knightstone didn’t enforce appeal decision re family housing. We have 20%.

Not a gated community. The site will be accessible to the publice.

Street elevations are contextual.

The proposals are supported by offices, civic soc, kingsdown conservation, the salvation army and many local people. EH support the proposals.

We urge members to support officers and do the right thing and vote the scheme through.

Karen Jones: essential to have a deliverable scheme. Need to get right mix of resi, commercial and community space.  Essential issue is number of family accom.  Hit 20%.  Affordable housing is less than 40% due to cost of the site and the listed building so only 8 units. Confirmed by BNP Parisbas.

Ground floor is not just office or retail – can include broad range of uses. Street frontage will reinforce range of uses on Stokes Croft. Internal area for markets etc. Public realm is a core focal point of wider community.  Never been intention to gate and close the devleopment.  Ped route connecting Ashley Road to Stokes Croft confirms permeability.

Planning conditions will secure level of detail on range of issues inc. culture.

The appointed management company will manage ground floor, landscape space, community strategy, bins etc.

We have complied with planning policy esp Central Area Plan.

Marc Pennick: Three people speaking for Fifth Capital – Karen Jones (planning consultant) and John Assael.

Applicant will have 5 minutes to address the Committee.  Marc Pennick speaking for Fifth Capital.

Cllr Wright has withdrawn from discussion as he’s issued a statement regarding the application.  Cllr Milestone has declared she has a studio in Hamilton House.

The Chair isn’t here. We can’t start. Give it to the people? Oh, here he is.

On the Committee this evening: Cllr Woodman (Chair), Cllr Breckels, Cllr Kham, Cllr Milestone, Cllr Pearce, Cllr Smith, Cllr Hance, Cllr Woodman, Cllr Wright, Cllr Eddy, Cllr Lucas, Cllr Quartley, Cllr Telford.

The clans are gathering.  Stokes Croft has arrived at @Bristol en mass, the developer has turned up with half of London, and CAG are ready (sitting on the left side of the room).

Technology allowing, we’ll update this page and tweet @carriageworks2 as we nervously edge towards the future.

But before we get going, a quote from Betjamen: “Bristol must keep away from London.  No ‘moving with the times’, which means nothing. Keep away from London.  Keep away from London”.

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