The owners of the site on Hepburn Road that includes 86-102 Stokes Croft have made proposals for the redevelopment of the backland and renovation of the street front properties. CAG have looked at these and has the following comments to make:
Development and improvement of the site is supported in principle
2. Construction Site Access
Concern about how this will be achieved.
- Access via Stokes Croft onto Hepburn Rd is impossible due to width of the lane
- Only alternative route is via City Road or Ashley Road, then Brigstock Road and finally the length of the narrow residential Hepburn Road. Very difficult to safely achieve this given its narrow width and parking both sides. Even if they seek to close the road to any parking (which would be very controversial) the 90deg turn from Brigstock Rd may be impossible for larger transporters
- Alternatively everything has to be craned off lorries parked on Stokes Croft – seems to be the only realistic option – but huge disruption on Stokes Croft (aka A38) itself and may not be permitted by Highways
- If Carriageworks development is underway there will already be a considerable amount of construction traffic in the vicinity
- Important that works on Hepburn Road site do not unduly impact Carriageworks construction works
- Combined impact of multiple construction sites on local residents, especially those on Hepburn Road, must be born in mind and appropriate controls and mitigation measures put in place
3. Proposed Use
The scheme design was completed in January, before COVID. We question the demand for student housing post-COVID. If there is a fall in student numbers and demand for student accommodation, what adaptation will there be to other residential uses? Is the scheme sufficiently resilient and flexible to enable it to change to alternative types of residential use? Conversion to HMOs would be detrimental to the area.
Numbers 92, 96 and 98 do not appear to have been granted change of use for residential use. Ground floor units fronting Stokes Croft should all be retail or business use – not residential. This should be a benefit of the scheme for the wider community, will avoid breaking the street frontage, and will better complement the Carriageworks scheme.
4. Impact on Carriageworks Block D
The pre-app states that their Block A “is single aspect with the rear back to back to the blank boundary wall of the carriage works proposals” i.e. Block D of Carriageworks. This needs correction. The rear wall of Block D is not blank – instead it contains six small windows, two of which provide light to kitchens and the remainder of which provide light to hallways. On the ground floor there is a doorway providing access to the narrow service area. The building previously on the site of Block D had windows looking over Croft Dale, so rights to light are established. Clearly Block A of the pre-app scheme could not be built without blocking the windows in Carriagework’s Block D.
The microclimate in the narrow service area between Carriageworks Block D and pre-app Block A, with three storey buildings surrounding it, will be awful. Furthermore, building to the boundary will mean there is no ability to service the rear wall of Block A. A larger space between the buildings would be beneficial.
Block D is a three storey building. Block A is four storeys. There is a difference in ground levels (Block D ground floor is 25.5m above datum), but is it enough for an entire extra storey to be built in Block A so that the roofs of the two buildings are flush, as indicated in the drawings? Assael drawings for Carriageworks suggest there is not enough difference. Proposals to increase Carriageworks Block D above three storey height were previously resisted due to the impact on the immediate neighbourhood. The ground level may have to be lowered to accommodate four storeys.
The residential units in Block D will be sold as 10 affordable housing units. The pre-app proposal is for a 27 unit student housing block immediately adjacent. Is this appropriate, especially if Block A has any rear windows?
5. Stokes Croft Frontage
Currently the parapet wall of 102 Stokes Croft adjoins the Carriageworks below second floor level, thereby creating a significant step-down from the listed building to 102 and the adjoining terrace (note that step-down from adjoining buildings was also a significant issue on the Ashley Road frontage between the unlisted Tucketts Building and neighbouring new-build). The proposal is to increase the height of 102 with a mansard roof, although the drawings are not sufficiently detailed to know how high this will be. Nevertheless. the impact of the step down will be reduced, to the possible detriment of the prominence of the Grade II* listed Carriageworks building.
Furthermore, the band of bluestone on the Carriageworks close to the top of 102’s front wall must not be obscured by any works to No. 102.
Being adjacent to an important listed building the materials used should be of a high quality and meet conservation standards. Windows should be timber, not PVCU.
6. Gated Developments
The pre-app scheme is for a gated development. CAG has been adamant that this is not suitable for the Carriageworks scheme or indeed for anywhere on Stokes Croft. We are concerned that if Hepburn Road scheme is gated it will set a precedent that might in time be used to gate other sites in the area.
CAG has long argued for major development in the area to contribute to the wider social, environmental and economic character and vitality of the area. The mix of space and uses at the Carriageworks helps achieve this and the emerging Cultural Plan will define in more detail how this it will happen. The Hepburn Road scheme, as one of the larger development sites on Stokes Croft, should be encouraged to do likewise and complement other existing uses and investment in the area.