Who we are

The Carriageworks Action Group is a broad alliance of local residents, business owners and people from local organisations working with Bristol City Council to address the dereliction of the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site.  It meets at least twice a year and more often when there is something in need of early discussion.

You can find out more about whose involved on the ‘Who we are‘ page.

The site

You might know the Carriageworks and the adjoining Westmoreland House on Stokes Croft – they’re the big derelict buildings near the Ashley Road junction.

  • The  buildings and surrounding land are owned by Opec Prime (aka the Comer Homes Group), a London based property developer which bought the site in the 1980s.
  • The Carriageworks was designed by EW Godwin, an important Victorian Architect.  It is a Grade II* listed building in poor condition and is on the buildings “at risk” register.
  • Westmoreland House is the 6 storey 1960s concrete frame office building, last occupied in 1986 by the Football Pools Company.
  • At the rear is 4 Ashley Road, a derelict but Grade II listed house.
  • Together with land at the rear, the site is the same size as 1.6 football pitches.
  • In 1989 planning permission was granted for the development of 63 flats, offices and underground parking.
  • In 2006 the Council and local communities agreed a policy for a variety of uses on the site including residential, business and leisure facilities.
  • In 2010 the Government Planning Inspector refused a planning application for 153 flats, 5 shops and 112 parking spaces.
  • In 2011 a planning application was submitted by the owners for the development of 183 flats, shops and underground parking on the site.  The application was ‘disposed’ by the City Council in 2012 due to lack of communication and failure to respond to requests for information.
  • In 2012 the City Council agreed to use compulsory purchase powers to bring about redevelopment of the site.
  • In 2013 the City Council confirmed Knightstone as its preferred developer.
  • In 2014 Fifth Capital London appeared on the scene having acquired a “controlling interest” in the site. It went on to prepare proposals to redevelop the site.
  • In October 2015 Fifth Capital obtained planning permission for 112 residential units  plus commercial space on the site.
  • In 2016 Fifth Capital were seeking a development partner.
  • In 2017 PG Group completed their purchase of the site from Opec Prime.
  • In 2018 demolition of the existing buildings began and was completed in 2019.
  • Amendments to the planning permission were granted in 2020.

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The Community Vision

In 2011 residents and organisations in St Pauls, Kingsdown, Montpelier and Cotham worked with the City Council to write a Community Vision for the future of the whole site. The vision was completed in 2012 and has gone on to inform our ongoing work, that of the City Council and interested developers (i.e. Knightstone, Fifth Capital and PG Group).

A Note on Spelling

The correct spelling of the concrete office block, now demolished, is Westmorland (not ‘Westmoreland’ with an ‘e’ – although sometimes the wrong spelling does creep into this website).  The building was named after the Countess of Westmorland,  a patron of the Spastics Society (the beneficiary charity of the owners, Regional Pools Promotions), who opened the building on 14 January 1966.

[Page updated 21 May 2020]

10 thoughts on “About

  1. I know its harsh but the place needs to be pulled down. Even Godwins building is grim and hardly a fitting entry to the city! To be honest a bulldozer through the whole area is the only answer – take a look at the restored buildings on nearby corner and they are shabby again!! Most of the buildings in Stokes Croft are of low Victorian quality anyway!

  2. Cannot go with Bill about the Godwin building- problem is that it is dwarfed by the building next door…that said, towers can be inspiring….

  3. I don’t agree with Bill – I think that the Carriageworks is a very fine facade indeed, and that Westmoreland house has a lot of potential. Mid-20th Century concrete frame buildings can be among the nicest to live and work in when they are appropriately updated – the frame allows for big windows, spacious rooms, and a sense of solidity and massiness that you rarely find in older buildings.

    Bill, you’re right that there are buildings of middling quality in Stokes Croft, but the sheer diversity of styles on a single street makes it a treasure. A lot of the grimness is surface-deep only.

  4. It would be great if the facade was kept, but honestly anything is better than the empty shell that has been sat there for so long (my whole life!). I think the listed status must be a hindrance to any kind of useful development there, which is a shame.

  5. I think the site should largely be turned into a park… It’s what st.Paul’s and stokes croft really lacks.. green space.

  6. 183 flats? What a terrifying prospect. Why are the developers who have left this site to rot, not being held accountable? Being allowed to profit from neglectful behaviour is wrong.

  7. This is the first I’ve heard about this but if Bristol City Council have bought this under a compulsory purchase order then it should be developed by the council (not a third party) for genuinely affordable social housing. Maybe 50% rented the other half sold to invest in more projects. Rent say no more than £75p.w and £100,000 or less to buy. They’ll be profit in it for the coucil and people will have more disposable income to spend, thus benefiting the economy in Bristol. This should have been the case for all developments such as the Harbourside where builders like Crest are in this game to make obscene profits (lately off the back of help to buy) and have no interest in providing quality affordable homes.The Government and our councils need to take more responsibility and greater control.

    • Just to clarify – Bristol City Council has not bought the site using compulsory purchase or any other powers. The site is still owned by Comer Homes, as it has been since the 1980s. Due to its long term derelection the Council has been considering using compulsory purchase to buy the site but the emerging proposals from Fifth Capital have made this more difficult. Even if the Council did buy the site it is extrememly unlikely that it could develop the site itself as it isn’t able to put in the investment needed. That’s why it had been in discussions with Knightstone to be the preferred developer. Good point that Government and Councils need to take more responsibility – unfortunately the Government doesn’t agree and wants to reduce the levels of control, not increase them.

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