PG Group have released proposed changes to the design of the Ashley Rd frontage.
As yet PG have not provided any description or explanation of the suggested changes. Neither have they provided amended elevations or floor plans. This makes it hard, if not impossible, to really assess the new proposals.
From the drawing provided, however, there are two options. Both options appear to be setting the fourth floor back very slightly and also giving it a grey colour. This is presumably intended to reduce the slablike appearance of the previous design (see below).
Option A sees the grey surface treatment extend down one side of the building. Option B retains the brick frontage across the whole width of the building.
PG have also responded to the comments received by CAG over the last few weeks via email, comments on the CAG Facebook page and comments on the Montpelier Facebook pages. The comments and PG responses are all in this PDF document.
Height of the proposed building
In their comments submitted in December, Montpelier Conservation Group said: “The revised plans increase the façade of the building by one storey and add a further storey set back by 2 metres or so. The parapet would be at the height of the ridge of Tucketts Buildings and the additional storey higher still. The Inspector’s Report on the 2007 refused application indicated that for this part of the site: “… providing the overall height of the proposed development on the Ashley Road frontage would not be higher than the ridge of Tucketts Buildings in the west and steps down towards the Salvation Army Citadel, I find no harm from the proposal to the conservation area” (paragraph 33)”.
Someone else wrote “Having a six story flat elevation looming over the street rather than the lower building with recessed balconies that was proposed is a major change. It will be one of the tallest buildings in the area and a lot uglier than the previous proposal.” See below for the 2016 scheme that has planning permission.
In response, PG have said “The fourth floor is being extended to align with the front of the building however…. the parapet of the 4th floor will be 200mm below the ridge of Tucketts Building. The 5th floor is set back by 2.5m.”
Whether a 20cm drop, four storeys up, constitutes a ‘step down’ is debatable.
Commercial scale in a residential area
A local resident said “Over many years there has been slow encroachment into the residential area adjacent to this part of Stokes Croft and there is reason to believe that approval of these changes will make further encroachment more rather than less likely”.
The PG Group responded by saying “The Carriageworks development does bring much needed housing to the area and these changes actually increase the residential aspect of the site. (We are) very committed to developing the site in line with the original community vision and the commercial units on the ground floor are very much a part of this vision.”
Surfaces and materials
A local resident said “The historic parts of Stokes Croft architecture are a lot more appealing than the Salvation Army citadel. The 2018 plans seem to have a lot more low level brickwork an inviting platform for tasteless tagging & vandalism”.
PG Group responded: “The Architects have followed the line of the Tucketts ground floor with the projecting reveals around the ground / first floor window bays, which will be fully glazed at ground floor, again aligning with the character of Tucketts albeit in a contemporary style”.
Compared to Tuckets however, there is still a lot of street level brickwork.
The need for more flats
Some people questioned the need for more flats and the extra storeys facing Ashley Road. PG Group responded “As demolition has progressed (we have) been able to more accurately assess the costs of development, which exceed original expectations. To balance this, (we have) sought to increase the number of units on site in a way that has the least impact on the surrounding area”.
Stairwells and lifts
The revisions to Block A propose that the two stairwells in the existing scheme are replaced by one. Comments included concern about fire safety of only having one escape route and another concerned access for people with disabilities if one lift should be unavailable.
PG state their architects have “reviewed the revised design with consulting Fire Engineers FRaMS and their advice was that the single stair solution proposed would be compliant with the building regulations when used with a mechanical smoke extract system and sprinklers”.
PG don’t respond to the issue of disability acccess, although looking at earlier plans the we can see that the single stairwell has twin lifts.
What happens next?
We have asked PG Group for more details and for their proposed process and timescales for submitting the proposed changes to the planners. We’ll update as soon as we hear back. In the meantime, write your views below.