34 people inc Bristol Post and c.12 UWE architecture students
Introduction by Lori
Today is a celebration of Comer no longer owning the Carriageworks. To reach this point has taken a collective effort. Over the last 20 years redevelopment schemes have come and gone but the dereliction has continued. CAG was formed in 2011 and since then we have been pushing and pushing. We haven’t stopped and we haven’t let the Council or even Comer stop. We kept going, kept having community meetings, kept up the pressure. Without us it is very likely that proposals would have been dropped maybe when Knightstone withdrew, maybe when compulsory purchase looked harder, maybe when Fifth Capital emerged, or at many other times. Success has come from a combination of many people working together and being stubborn along the way. Together, we did it.
PG Group were invited to this meeting but for many reasons why they couldn’t come. They will definitely be developing the site. This is an opportunity to remind us what they will be building. We will pass on any questions.
Copy of PG Group’s letter to residents available. Sent to households in the streets adjoining the site. A second batch will go to a wider area and to businesses on Stokes Croft. Comments: Kino and Post Office have not had a copy. People took more to distribute themselves.
Site plans were on display. PG will develop as approved so that they don’t have to seek a new permission.
They will start demolishing Westmorland House in January, but we don’t know when (PG may not have a date yet from demolition contractor). They will start building in March / April.
(CAG will seek answers to all the questions raised and post them on our website)
Q: Will we (Cafe Kino) be able to operate our business while they are demolishing? And when will they tackle the site behind us? Kino have had no feedback from discussions between PG and the landlord. A: This sort of question should be answered on PG’s own website although at the moment there’s very little information.
Q: PG Group should publish their method statement. This will answer some of the questions e.g. about demolition. Many people, both those living in the areas closest to Westmorland House and those who regularly pass through the area, are very concerned about the impact of the demolition. The methods statement is a matter a significant interest.
Q: How is traffic and noise being managed especially on Hepburn Road?
Q: Have PG taken on security and is it 24/7? A from Kino: Yes. They are patrolling the site to at least 11:30.
Q: Concerned about the difficulties communicating with PG. The letter from PG is good at this stage of the game. But their communication proposals are just about what they will tell us and not what we can tell them or that they will listen to us. We should make the point that we’d like to know how things will be covered at their meetings, how much time in a meeting will spend listening and how much will they just be telling us? They’re a Bristol developer who wants to grow so that will make them cooperative.
There’s a discreet link on the site that enables you to sign up and comment https://consultingyou.co.uk/carriageworks/register/comment
If people send a comment to PG they should also send it to CAG. We can keep pushing the issue.
Eventually they might realise that working with us is easier than not working with us. Marc understood this eventually. PG Group want to do something good. A beneficial developer in this area will be more than welcome. “Never underestimate the power of something small until you are in a sleeping bag with a mosquito”. We want a constructive dialogue.
Q: With Fifth Capital we had some sub-groups that were devised. What’s happened? A: We haven’t got to that stage with PG yet. The idea of the sub-groups has not gone away. PG haven’t yet really grasped how to engage.
At the moment PG are discharging their Planning Conditions. Up to now they’ve been forthcoming about their programme and process but this needs to be monitored. CAG needs to get their programme of work to see when the conditions are discharged. We need to check that we’re still getting what was set out in the Vision Document. St Pauls Planning Group is scrutinising everything they’re doing.
One of the Conditions is about the materials and finishes that will be used. The Conditions place a responsibility on the developer to consult and work with local stakeholders, including CAG, in discharging the materials and finishes condition. There has been discussion about a sub-group to take this dialogue forward.
Q: What is the process by which PG is reaching decisions about this? A: We need to see their options, and to have input based on a range of suggested materials. Also, input about the acoustics – that is also a materials/finishes issue. And, about the treatment of ‘dark and gloomy corners’ – both a materials and a safety issue. We recognise that the finishes will have to fit with the building being in a conservation area. PG should give information about both the process and the timetable for decision making about this.
Q: How much affordable housing is there? A: 5 x 1 bed and 5 x 2 bed affordable (shared ownership) flats. This is 9% of the total.
Paul Smith has said publicly that there is potential for BCC to invest in additional affordable units. We don’t know what stage that has reached. It was part of our vision so a legitimate question to ask of PG.
Q: Any social housing? A: Not at the moment. A: Potential for Housing Associations to buy units. This is an issue to return to.
Q: What is Cultural Plan? A: It’s being defined. It is intended that it should include more than just art and music. It’s neighbourhood, its built context, the people, the vibe, what the neighbourhood offers the scheme and what the scheme offers the neighbourhood. We want a diversity of ideas of what culture is so that the Cultural Plan represents the diversity of the area in which it sits. It’s a bit vague and amorphous, but intentionally so. It will also address how the site will be managed and how to integrate with a culturally vibrant part of the city.
CAG drew up a list of six local companies that could prepare it. Tenders closed Friday. We are waiting to hear back on which they will accept. We will have a discussion with them about CAGs role in selection and community’s role.
Q: There’s been some great street art on the site. But scheme drawings all look very bland.
Q: The finishes are important. Ideas for stained glass.
Q: Not just about the frontage to Stokes Croft. Also about the other side facing St Pauls.
Business and Market Space
Q: Is a market still included? A: Yes.
Q: Are market stalls just for local people or can anyone get one? A: Too early to say.
Management of the site will be for a) residential areas b) commercial units let on lease c) market area. We need to make sure that there is the right input at the right level. The Cultural Plan will contribute to this.
Q: Would be great to get local businesses in. But they have higher running costs so people can’t afford them. How can we help local businesses be affordable and stop them going out of business within a year? A: Catherine Court had really high rents to begin with, now occupied by charities that don’t pay rates. Can have a rent ladder so it rises as profits rise. Ability to influence affordability comes down to ownership of the buildings. Is there potential for community buy out of the commercial units?
It’s a dilemma. A community owned landlord would be small and therefore at risk of charging higher prices. A large not-for-profit (e.g. Ethical Property Company which is now running retail space) would be an alternative, but they’re not cheap. A big commercial company may let most units at market rent but make a few available at lower rents. Even if units are more affordable, you then have risk that successful tenants don’t want to move out or don’t have anywhere to move to. It’s complicated, but there must be solutions / companies that could provide subsidised units.
Comes back to question of sub-groups. Could set up to explore some of the issues. We could then work hard with PG to get them engage in a dialogue about the space and the market. 10 people volunteered.
Q: How would PG do it? A: Would probably be quite conventional – a managing agent.
Meeting ended with viewing of the displayed plans and discussion.