The new Carriageworks emerges

As anyone regularly passing or living close to Carriageworks will be aware, work above ground began late November and the steel work is quickly taking shape. PG Group, the developer, found some of the worst ground conditions they’ve ever encountered with large amounts of buried concrete, steel girders etc pointing to the site’s long industrial past.

COVID and Brexit have both been challenges for the development so far with impact on the supply of both labour and materials.

Block A (the largest of all the blocks but without a direct frontage to Stokes Croft) has now reached its finished height of six storeys, although roof finishes will add a bit to the final height.

Nov 2019 site plan

The steelwork for Block D. behind Croft Dale, is also progressing.

Block C, the Carriageworks building itself, will be the last to be completed, probably by late 2022.

Pictures from mid December 2020

Block A emerging, as seen from Nine Tree Hill. In time this will be obscured by the new Block B on Stokes Croft which will fill the gap where Westmorland House once stood.
Block A seen from Ashley Road. The scores on the doors make the lift shaft clearly visible. In time the steel work will come forward and go further to the left.

Closer view of the lift shaft showing the full height of the building

This is how the building is emerging above the skyline, as see from Portland Square, looking down Cave St. The top three storeys of the six storey building are visible.

This is the emerging view for residents on Hepburn Road. Kuumba is in the foreground.
Block A is it will be when finished. The lift shaft will be left of centre. Ashley Road is to the left, Hepburn Road to the right.

Dave Prowse: ‘The force’ on Stokes Croft

Dave Prowse, known for his roles as Darth Vade and the Green Cross Code Man, has died aged 85.

David Prowse at Mountain-Con III in 2007

According to his memoirs, Straight from the Force’s Mouth, Prowse worked for Stokes Croft based Regional Pool Promotions Ltd (RPP) as a Pools Claims Clerk. The company, which in 1966 opened its headquarters at Westmorland House, employed 600 staff on Stokes Croft from where they managed the 4m subscribers, each eager to win a prize based on the success of their allotted football teams. Prowse wrote:

“RPP was a good firm to work for, I got on really well with all my colleagues and initially promotion through the ranks was rapid”. But when the promotions slowed down he challenged one of the company directors as to why. “He told me they were more than happy with my work but felt that I wouldn’t be with them for very long, expecting that sooner or later somebody within my sport would make me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I would leave”. The sport, body building, did indeed attract him away although his enduring fame is more for his role as Darth Vader and, the role he apparently felt most pride in, the Green Cross Man.

Obituaries: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/nov/29/david-prowse-obituary and https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/tributes-paid-to-bristol-actor-dave-prowse/

More about the Regional Pools Promotions on this site under Stories

PG seeks approval of materials

When planning permission was granted in 2016 for the Carriageworks development it was agreed that approval of materials and finishes would have to be given by the Council before development began. PG have now submitted their application for approval of materials to be used at the Carriageworks. The application can be found on the Council’s website at this link.

The proposed materials are shown below. We have asked PG precisely where the materials will be used – the information provided refers to which block but not whereabouts on each block.

It is a condition of the 2016 planning permission that the developers “consult and work with local stakeholders, including Carriageworks Action Group” in discharging the condition relating to materials and finishes.

Works on Carriageworks site – update from PG Group

We have received the following update from Jenny Gee, the PR person for PG Group, about works on the Carriageworks site.


As you are aware, welfare units are all set up on site and as now the site is being run by PG Construction Management (Carriageworks) Ltd. This is now the main contractor for the development, rather using external contractors. I am confident that it will mean information will be more forthcoming. The current situation with COVID19 and bringing people back after furlough has added significantly to the already complex requirements of reports, legal and administrative paperwork required to finalise the funding.

We are now able to share a headline Programme of Works which I have attached. I should clarify that this is a draft programme and liable to change due to several factors, the main ones at the moment being Covid and Brexit which are having large knock-on effects on materials and suppliers. Supply issues are affecting elements of the programme as diverse as finalising fixed dates for steel and also straightforward supplies such as brick stocks – just as an example. We ask that you understand these dates are flexible, but PG will try to adhere to them as much as possible.

Draft programme of worksAs you know only too well, it is the groundworks investigations on site that are causing the resulting noise and vibration. Whilst the contractor did measure this aspect of the work, PG is today installing their own measurement equipment which will be closely monitored. The trial pit work has moved across to the old Croftdale side of the site, where levels of concrete are being trialled.

Site working hours start at 8.00am and ending at 5.30pm Mon-Friday.

This was always going to be a difficult site to develop, and PG is doing what they can to keep disruption to a minimum. Going forward, we plan to share activity on site in the following ways:

  • Monthly progress reports as well as regular updates whenever work on site might prove more intrusive.
  • Site noticeboard at the entrance to be updated weekly
  • Site viewing windows punched into the perimeter hoardings
  • Security/Time lapse cameras which are now installed

Note that while contractors are not to start work before 8am they can arrive on site earlier than 8am.

CAG comments on Hepburn Road proposals

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:

1. Generally

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.

Carriageworks Block D rear elevation showing windows and door

Rear elevation of Carriageworks Block D showing windows overlooking Hepburn Road site

Carriageworks Block D floor plan

Floor plan of Carriageworks Block D showing boundary edged red and windows to kitchen and hallway.  Grey blocks are existing, not proposed, buildings.

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.

7. Placemaking

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.

Two planning permissions granted at Carriageworks

Bristol City Council has granted planning permission to PG Group for two applications:

This should clear the way for PG to sign funding and construction contracts for the scheme as a whole (COVID19 permitting).

Planning application for 66 student units on Stokes Croft / Hepburn Road

Plans have been unveiled to redevelop part of Stokes Croft next to the Carriageworks and replace the existing buildings with 66 student flats and nine private lets.

The site is owned by Crescent Property Developments which is registered in Bath, controlled by 24 year old Gerlando Caci, and the owner of 86 to 102 (but possibly not 94 – Rita’s) Stokes Croft as well as the land to the rear (source: mortgage charge on the properties).photo of 90-102 Stokes CroftThe proposals, which have not yet been submitted as a planning application, retain the building frontages and retail uses on Stokes Croft. To the rear Croftdale (currently in use as a seven-bed student property), will be demolished along with a neighbouring warehouse.

The proposed Block A of the new development will consist of 27 student beds. Block B will provide eight student beds and nine residential flats. Block C will be a three storey building with two workshop units and ten student beds.

Pegasus Planning Group are acting for Crescent and do not believe that an environmental impact assessment of the development is necessary.  In a planning statement they write “Given the low impact of the proposal, it is considered that whilst there will be some effects upon the historic environment as a consequence of the scheme, none of these are considered to constitute ‘significant effects’ upon the environment, as set out in the relevant guidance. Accordingly, it is considered that the screening proposal constitutes Non-EIA development.”

https://www.insidermedia.com/news/south-west/plans-underway-for-66-new-student-beds

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/developers-planning-66-student-flats-4045679

New planning application for Block A

As part of PG Group’s efforts to get the Carriageworks development started they have submitted a new planning application.

Last year PG were focused on a S.73 minor alterations application to add seven additional units to the fourth and fifth floors of Block A and make other changes to the facade, stair wells etc.  However, a recent case in the Court of Appeal (Finney v. Welsh Ministers, 2019) effectively closed the S.73 route for the additional units.  Consequently PG will remove the extra flats from the S.73 application so that the rest of it can go through.  And they have now put in a full planning application for the flats.

The application can be seen on the Council’s planning website.  Neighbours will have received written notification and the public consultation period officially ends on 6 April.

The application seeks permission for 3 x 1 bed flats and 4 x 2 bed flats for market sale or rent.  The design, footprint and floor area are the same as previously proposed in the S.73 application except that one two bed unit has been split into two one bed units. The fourth floor is set back 2.2m from the Ashley Rd frontage and the fifth floor is set back by 7.75m and clad in grey metal in order, say PG, to reduce their visibility and prominence from street level when compared to the lower floors which will be clad in brick.

proposed plans and elevations of additional flats

Floors plans and elevations of the additional seven flats proposed for the fourth and fifth floors of Block A.

existing and proposed elevations

Top drawings show the elevations as proposed by S.73 application excluding additional flats (not yet granted planning permission). The lower drawings show the proposed additions to the fourth and fifth floors.

Update: Planning permission was granted on 20 April 2020

Latest changes to S.73 planning application

Last year PG submitted a Section 73 amendment application to the planning authority to make changes to the planning permission namely internal changes, facade changes and extra floorspace for more residential units. (These were discussed at length at January’s community meeting).

However, because of a recent change in case-law, S.73 cannot now be used to change the description of a development (e.g. a change to the number of units).

As a result PG are proceeding with an amended S.73 application which doesn’t involve any change to the number of units and instead focuses on the internal and facade changes. Later on they will submit a full planning application for the two extended floors/extensions to create the extra floorspace and flats.

We understand that the planners will try to process the revised S.73 so that deadlines set by funders can be met and the site development can progress.

Update: Planning permission was granted on 17 April 2020