Wednesday 23rd September 2015
Five months ago city planners faced a barrage of opposition to plans to redevelop the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House. Listening to local people, the planners told the developer to work with the community to improve their scheme. After a process which the local action group describes as positive and lively, the ideas have been amended. But will it win over local people?
The Carriageworks and Westmoreland House have been derelict since the 1980s. Various attempts by the owners to redevelop it had failed so in 2012 the local community, lead by the Carriageworks Action Group, published its own Community Vision. The City Council offered to use compulsory purchase powers to ensure that redevelopment took place and Knightstone Housing Association were identified as the preferred developer. Then, a year ago, Fifth Capital London emerged from nowhere with rights to purchase the site. But their plans were met with scorn. 1,400 objections, a march on the planning committee and many robust criticisms resulted in the developers being told to think again.
For the last five months the Carriageworks Action Group has been working with Fifth Capital and the planners to try and improve the redevelopment proposals. With a few reservations they now think the scheme is worthy of their support. But before sending their final conclusions to the planners they want to ask local people what they think.
Lori Streich, Chair of CAG, said:
“This has been a long process. Communities are rarely given the opportunity to be this closely involved in planning a major redevelopment. The council’s committee took a bold step in insisting that Fifth Capital work with us. Equally Marc Pennick, MD of Fifth Capital, deserves credit for changing his approach and engaging in a constructive and collaborative way.
We haven’t got everything we wanted, especially social housing, but on many other issues he has listened and adapted the scheme. In particular the ground floor access and the business space are now much much better. With proper management it should make a positive contribution to the local area. The concerns of neighbours have also resulted in design changes which has been important in winning our support.
Now we need to know if local people agree that the scheme should go ahead”.
CAG have published a draft response on their website and are asking for comments and indications of support or opposition by 28 September. With changes made it will then be submitted to the planners in time for the planning committee on 14 October.
Chair of Carriageworks Action Group
Available for phone interviews on Thursday 24 September.
Notes for Editors
1. The Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site has been vacant and derelict since 1982. It has been owned by Comer Homes since 1988.
2. The Carriageworks Action Group was formed in 2011 to consult on and prepare a Community Vision for the site. The Vision was approved by CAG and the City Council in 2012.
3. In 2013 Knightstone Housing Association was identified as the City Council’s preferred developer of the site. The City Council would use compulsory purchase powers to ensure that the site was redeveloped.
4. Fifth Capital purchased an option to buy the site in 2014 subject to them first obtaining planning permission.
5. The Planning Committee will consider the changes to the scheme at its meeting on 14 October 2015.
6. If Fifth Capital gain planning permission they will aim to start construction in the Spring 2016. Works will take up to two years to complete.
7. Further information including the latest designs at http://carriagworks.org.uk