Meeting on 28 November 2018 attended by c.35 people including 7 from PG Group.
Note: We will publish copies of the floorplans, elevations and CGIs as soon as they are received – hopefully by 3rd or 4th December.
- Asbestos has all been cleared and Wrings now have heavy equipment on site to demolish Westmorland House. This will be the most visible part of site preparation. Anticipate completion by Christmas.
- Trenches will be dug for the archaeological investigation after Christmas.
- Target is to start building in the Spring 2019. It will be a two year build programme.
PG have been working on the designs since the site was purchased. Clear that the scheme that was given planning permission was not worked up with construction in mind; more an exercise in securing planning permission. So changes are needed. There are three broad categories of changes:
1. Changes made arising from feedback received over the last year
- Changes to make more efficient and better use of the space
- Changes which push the envelope in order to get more floor space and help the scheme’s viability.
Sequence of Changes to Planning Permission
PG want to avoid submitting a new planning application in which everything would have to be reconsidered. Instead they want to seek permission for smaller changes, one at a time. They will tackle the smallest changes first and then those that will require a new planning permission.
1. Westmorland House
Changes to window details and to bring forward recessed balconies on the left hand (north) side.
Changes to the roof to allow stair and lift core to reach the top floor. Previously the top floor comprised duplex units with internal stairs. These have now been replaced with regular flats. This will need new listed building consent (s19 Notice) which will be dealt with at officer level so a shorter process than applying for listed building consent from scratch.
3. Block D
This is the affordable housing block. All the affordable units have to be under one roof; RPs (aka Housing Associations) will not accept otherwise.
- The two ground floor residential units will be changed to commercial use.
- There will be an additional storey with four residential units, so a net gain of two units (i.e. a total of 12 affordable units).
- A lift will be added so that all flats are accessible.
- Overall height of the building will be no different to the height of the stair housing previously leading to the roof garden. Shadowing of neighbouring properties will need to be carefully examined via a BRE209 report. (The Council’s new Urban Living planning policy seeks to protect the daylighting and sunlighting of existing buildings). It was pointed out that existing shadow diagrams do not show garden walls on Hepburn Road which gives the impression that there is more existing direct sunlight than there actually is.
These changes will need a full planning application. Don’t yet know if this will be dealt with at officer level or if will have to go to committee (a committee decision will usually be required if: councillors so require, or officers think the matter is significant, or there are more than 20 public objections). A committee decision will add about one month to the decision process. Adding the additional storey is essential for overall viability of the development.
4. Block A
- The building will have one stair and lift core instead of the previous two. Previous design anticipated a taller building so two cores were required. This is not necessary for a six storey building. A sprinkler system and mechanical ventilation will ensure fire safety.
- Rationalisation of service rooms including bin and bike stores to improve layout and make better use of space, but with no overall loss of facilities.
- Plans show two empty residential units coloured blue – should be shown as yellow (commercial).
- The Ashley Road frontage will be increased by a single storey and a fifth floor will be setback. From eye level it will look like a taller building. CGI (which will be prepared) will help show the change. Comments were made that this will introduce much more commercial type building to Ashley Road which has previously been residential in scale. Previous scheme had Block A stepping down from Tuckets building but elevations now show it stepping up.
- Windows facing south towards Hepburn Road previously protected privacy of neighbours by their triangular form. This has now been replaced by bolt-on louvre screens. There was concern that this is an inferior solution and it was suggested that there should be a specific meeting with Hepburn Road residents to address this issue in more detail. PG agreed to the meeting.
Block A will need a full planning permission for a) change of use of all of ground floor b) additional storey.
PG hope to have planning issues for Westmorland House (Block B) and Carriageworks (Block C) sorted out by mid February 2019.
Block D will be dealt with after mid February. Will need 13 weeks minimum but with S.106 could need 4 months to complete.
Overall process could be concertinaed by submitting all at the same time, but that potentially creates problems with overlapping applications.
Other Changes and Issues
Whole of ground floor surrounding the square will be made commercial. Small planted area and wall in southern corner also removed. Helps give the square a better feel and will allow for more market stalls. Converting four residential units to commercial has no overall impact on viability.
Rooftop Gardens / Amenity Spaces
Feedback from Registered Providers (aka Housing Associations) is that roof gardens and amenity spaces are too expensive to maintain. They are therefore being taken out.
Commercial / Retail Units
Q re frontage of the commercial units in Block A which do not have large retail type windows. PG said their intention is to keep unit design as flexible as possible. They can then be adapted to occupiers / purchasers needs so if different frontages are required PG can do that. At this stage however PG do not intend to change the proposals any more than is absolutely necessary (to avoid having to make a new full planning application).
Total Number of Residential Units
2 additional affordable units. 12 additional private sale.
Some of three bed flats are being changed into one bed flats as no market for the larger ones. There is more market for one bed flats.
Four bed houses are unchanged.
PG have been in touch with Registered Providers (Housing Associations) who are interested in buying units. Also held discussions with Bristol City Council. However, PG have to make sure that the scheme is viable before they can discuss terms for residential units.
Block D will be affordable housing. Ten will be on shared ownership basis, the additional two may also be shared ownership. RPs might buy additional units but they will want complete flexibility on how they use those i.e. private rented, affordable or social.
Continuing in the background.
Timescale for Feedback
Comments from CAG to PG by Christmas. PG will then make applications after Christmas. If you have any comments please send them to email@example.com and we will forward them to PG.