Notes of Community Meeting on 7 January 2020

20 people came to the meeting including three representatives of PG Group.

Pete Bullard

The meeting opened remembering Pete Bullard who died at the end of October. A Just Giving page has been set up to collect for two nut trees and a greengage tree in Brunswick Sq. in Pete’s memory.  Pete would have wanted trees that give fruit / nuts freely to the local community. We miss him.
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/petes-trees

Revised Revisions to the Planning Permission: Comments

The aim of the Community Meeting was to seek community views about the revised amendments submitted to the Planning Authority as a S.73 application.  The comments in this paper will combine the views expressed at the meeting with those expressed to members of the CAG Liaison Group by people who were not able to attend the Community Meeting.  CAG’s role is to convey all the different views to make the community’s input as transparent as possible.  It was noted that in the initial consultation about the development of the site, in 2011, 96% of 1600 people said that their priority was to “see something done” to address the dereliction of the site through building out a scheme.

PG Explanation of Proposed Amendments

PG submitted their S.73 scheme last summer after having priced up the permissioned scheme. Costs were proving higher than previously forecast. This was tackled by simplifying some elements of design to speed up the build process, and reducing the complexity of the design which takes out some costs. The key change was to the Ashley Road façade by taking out ‘stepped in’ juliet balconies (expensive to build) and adding floors to the frontage to take it to the same height as the rest of Block A. There was some resistance to that. The amended proposals pulled back the fifth floor from Ashley Road. The designs also addressed the ‘flat face’ to the façade architecture to make it less bland and add some additional horizontality to the design. There was further community feedback in October so PG then added more features to the elevation to add horizontality and pulled back the fifth floor even further with loss of one unit. Note that pulling the fifth floor back still further would reduce number of units which would be defeat the objective of the additional floor. We lose eight units without the changes.

Other changes have been to the windows on the Hepburn Rd frontage and to solar panels on roof.

Comments

We have grouped the views expressed into themes/key issues.
1.    To what extent will the concerns be lessened if it goes to committee as opposed to being decided by the planning officer?

In favour of delegated decision making, some people were concerned about the depth of knowledge of the scheme amongst Councillors who may not be as aware of the detail as we (and the planning officer) are.  However, it was noted that any committee decision would be based on an officer’s report highlighting the main issues.

In favour of a Committee decision, the balance of opinion in the room was that this would enable more transparency and would make the final decision “more like a normal planning application.”

There are concerns that the scheme contravenes planning issues especially relating to the privacy of tenants of Tucketts Buildings, and this mitigates in favour of committee decision making.  Also, that the changes appear to be too significant not to be subjected to a proper planning process.  A view was expressed, however, that some of the areas of contention might be better addressed through negotiation, rather than a binary decision at committee.

A representative of Montpelier Conservation Group (MCG), who have submitted an objection to the proposals, said that while a committee decision would make the process more accountable, there are concerns about the lack of supporting documents to justify the changes.  The justification for the changes needs to be discussed at Committee, but this information is not available to form the basis of a discussion.

A particular concern is the lack of a viability statement.  A representative from PG Group said that they had not been asked to provide a viability study as part of the S.73 application. Asked if they would provide one they said that that would have to be considered. In wider discussion about viability appraisals PG said that normally planning permission cannot be approved if a scheme is not viable.

The meeting discussed this issue.  It was recognised that

  • The viability of the scheme is very tight
  • This is a very difficult time to be costing schemes – with enormous uncertainty and cost changes due to the political situation
  • Viability statements are not normally released publicly.  Rather, the planning authority will ask an independent party to verify the viability study and this assessment is made public.

CAG has heard conflicting views from people at the meeting, and others who were not able to attend:

  • that even if the viability statement justified the need to make the proposed changes, they would still record objections
  • that assessment of the viability statement would give a fair platform that would take account of the challenges of developing the site
  • that the proposed changes involved compromises, just as the permissioned scheme involved compromises and what is most important is for the scheme to proceed and to be built. 

Decision making timetable:

There was a concern about the need for swift decision making, before Purdah, so if the scheme goes to Committee, this needs to be very soon – by February at the latest.  PG Group commented that they have had thisscheme priced up and they are now in a position to start on site quite quickly if they get planning approval.  If there are too many further delays, their build contractor will review their commitment and either push up costs or may pull out.

A view was expressed that people in the community have been working on this for a long time.  There is a need for decisions to be made to enable progress.  “It would be such a shame to get this far and then put it back by another two years.”

2.    Is the amended design acceptable?

A number of issues discussed
a)   Additional floors on Block A facing Ashley Road; and design of the Ashley Road frontage:

The proposed addition of two floors at the Ashley Road end of Block A is contentious.  Dominic Taylor said that this will result in a loss of light to Tucketts Buildings; and living room / bedroom windows which look into his building.  It was noted that the windows overlooking could be easily addressed by design changes. Shadowing/impact on light is still a concern. Dominic said that a change in brick colour would make a fundamental difference.

MCG and the Conservation Advisory Panel are concerned about the size and scale of the building in a conservation area.  There are also concerns about the design of the Ashley Road frontage, which has been described as “monolithic”, with no articulation.  However, views have also been expressed that the new building will be alongside the Salvation Army Citadel which has a “far from perfect” frontage and which itself is not consistent with the aspirations of the conservation area.

There was a discussion about ways in which the design could help to address the concerns about the conservation area location, and the look of the frontage.  For example:

  • Further set back of the upper floors, recognising that the top floor flats would become smaller
  • Design features to break up the monolithic flat frontage, creating more of a sense of a terrace (as in the permissioned scheme) would improve the proposals. Some creative solutions were suggested.  A commitment from PG to have this conversation would help win support from some people in local communities.
  • Can the depth of the Carriageworks part of the scheme be changed, to increase the number of units without changing the Ashley Road frontage?  This would require a new, full planning application including addressing changes to a Grade II* listed building, so is not realistic.
  • Could the setback at the front of Block A be reduced, allowing more space at lower, internal levels and so not requiring so much to be added on the upper floors? This would need a new full planning application, because it would change the footprint of the building. Also the increased set back aims to create more of a funnel effect into the alley going to the market square.  Some people living close to the site also said that there will be a need for a wider pavement at that point, in interest of safety. A portico might offer a compromise solution, although could still require full planning permission.

b)   Pastiche

Discussing ways to change the Ashley Road frontage so there is a better fit with the Conservation area, Dominic Taylor floated the idea of pastiche.  This was discussed.

  • A representative from PG said that planners have given a strong steer away from pastiche
  • Quentin Alder commented that it would be virtually impossible to do these flats in pastiche style as their windows would all have to be the same size
  • Generally, being creative with design features, materials and finishes was favoured over pastiche.

c)   Reaching solutions

Overall, most of the people in the room thought that “we are not far from a solution” to the design issues, and there is agreement about process.  This echoes views which have been expressed recently to members of the CAG Liaison Group by people unable to attend this meeting.  There is a strong desire to see the development progress. The design of the permissioned scheme has always been a disappointment, but the blight of the long derelict site was far worse.  One local resident summed this view up with the statement: “Is the design that important? We need the housing.”

d)    St Pauls frontage (aka Back, or ‘Berlin’ Wall)

Usually described as the ‘back wall’, Lori Streich raised the issue of the St Pauls frontage.  This is the wall that will face directly onto Hepburn Road, and will overlook St Pauls.  A planning consideration has always been that the scheme must not turn its back on St Pauls. This wall will be significantly higher than the houses around it, and so will be seen across a very large area.  Westmorland House could be seen from Brunswick Square. This wall will be widely visible across parts of the city.  CAG Liaison Group members accept that it will be monolithic and has been likened to a ‘Berlin Wall’.  How to mitigate this impact?

  • PG Group have assured members of the CAG Liaison Group members that the windows will be as in the permissioned scheme.  These have been designed so residents of the new housing will not be able to look into the gardens of Hepburn Road residents.
  • A discussion about design, finish and materials needs to happen. It was noted that community engagement with this is a planning condition.  CAG is aware that this dialogue will need to be managed so that it is realistic; but also needs to be ambitious and creative.
  • A suggestion that some of the public art budget could be committed to that wall to mitigate the potentially negative impact it will have on St Pauls, and the wider cityscape, was met with enthusiasm. Lori said that we are looking for a constructive discussion that resolves the issues.  PG Group said that there will be time to have this discussion, before that frontage is built.

Materials and finishes

If the S.73 application is approved, the discussion about materials and finished will happen soon after.  This will be an issue for the Hepburn Road frontage; and materials could break up the Ashley Rd monolith and introduce some of the verticality.  CAG can collate views and ideas, and work with PG Group to develop and run an effective process for this dialogue.  PG Group is open to ideas.

Cultural Plan

This has not been forgotten! Liaison Group members are concerned that it will tie in with the commercial development of the Ground Floor; and will contribute to the developed site being a great place to live and a positive contribution to the local community.  This is still on the agenda, and we will return to it.  The infrastructure and design will need to address the needs that will be articulated in the Cultural Plan.

Other issues

·       Affordable housing:  PG Group reported that they are looking in a positive way to increase the amount of affordable housing.  Lori said that CAG will continue to press on this issue.
·       Naming roads:  Liaison Group members suggested that the lane into the site be called  Bullard’s Way, in Pete’s memory.  PG Group seem to be open to this.  More discussion needed.

Next Steps

CAG will send notes of this meeting to the Planning Officer by the end of this week. PG Group will discuss timetable with the Planning Officer in the next few days.

Community meeting – 7 Jan

There will be a Carriageworks community meeting on Tuesday 7th January, 6:30-8:30pm at St Pauls Learning Centre, Grosvenor Road, St Pauls.

The meeting will be to discuss the proposed amendments to the S.73 application submitted by PG and covered in our post of 15 November.

 

Pete Bullard

pete.jpgWe are sad to report that Pete Bullard passed away on 31 October. Pete was an active member of CAG since our start in 2011, and an active campaigner for the redevelopment of the Carriageworks site for much longer.

Pete chaired the St Pauls Planning Group. Not a single major development or planning application in St Pauls has escaped his scrutiny.   He also worked with others to ensure the restoration of St Pauls Park, and he was the person behind the planting of trees along Grosvenor Road. Over the years of his community activism, Pete was involved with more projects and environmental improvements in St Pauls than we can list.

Pete also produced beautiful pieces of stained glass and has taught many people to create their own works in this medium. Every Tuesday evening (in term time) saw him at St Pauls Learning Centre running his glass class. (So if you ever wondered why CAG Community meetings never happened on a Tuesday… that’s the answer.)   He was also an enthusiastic photographer, and fisherman.

Pete will be deeply missed in CAG and in St Pauls. His funeral will be on 2 December, with a service at Canford Crematorium at 11.15, followed by a

Celebration of Pete’s life at St Paul’s Learning Centre 12.30 for 1 til 5 pm on 2 December
Please drop in to the Learning Centre, Grosvenor Road, BS2
to share memories and stories and to see some of Pete’s glass work.

There will be a collection (no flowers please) to contribute towards the planting and maintenance of 3 fruit and nut trees in St Pauls Park as a lasting memorial.

PG submit amendments to Block A proposals

PG have submitted amendments to their proposals for Block A (fronting Ashley Road). The full details can be found on the planning website.

Note that these only affect Block A and not any of the other buildings on the site. The listed Carriageworks building is not part of the proposed changes.

Summary

The proposals vary the 2015 planning permission.  They affect only Block A (referred to as A1 and A2 in the planning permission).  A Section 73 (minor material amendment) application to change the permission was submitted in May 2019.  These latest proposals vary that S.73 application.

CAG has created the images below, showing on the lefthand side of the image the original (May 2019) application to amend  with the latest proposals on the right.  (Note that the lefthand side image says October 2018 – this is the month that they were first released).

The key difference to the original amendment is the greater setback of the fourth and fifth floors.

Ground Floor

Changes to the entrance area and the configuration of ground floor servicing and retail units.

- ground floor.png

First Floor

Small change to roof over entrance.

1 first floor.png

Windows facing Hepburn Road revert to original planning application.  See drawing below for details.

first-floor-window-close-up-oct-2019.png

Closeup of windows facing Hepburn Road. Glazing will point south west.  Solid infill pointing south east towards Hepburn Road back gardens.

Continue reading

Changes to PG application to alter the planning permission

We understand that PG have submitted new proposals to the planners, thereby amending their May 2019 S.73 application.  PG tell us that these are the same as the proposals shown at the July community meeting, but we haven’t yet seen them.  As soon as they are available we’ll let you know.

In the meantime PG have published a table analysing and responding to the public objections made to their May proposals.

CAG Liaison Group statement re proposed changes

On 16 May 2019 the PG Group submitted to Bristol City Council a Section 73 application to make material changes to the Carriageworks planning permission. These changes have attracted significant opposition.

At the CAG Community Meeting on 10 July PG introduced revisions to their proposed changes.  These revisions have not yet been submitted to or registered by the planners. Comments made at the meeting included:

  • Ongoing concern about the height of the Ashley Road frontage, increaesd shadowing from the increased height
  • Lack of syntax to the retail frontage
  • The replacement of triangular windows with bolt-on window louvres facing Hepburn Road (which, since the meeting, we now understand is being addressed). The St Pauls frontage is as important as any other and should not be subjected to cost-cutting of this nature. The Carriageworks must not turn its back on St Pauls.
  • Whether a Section 73 application is appropriate given the scale of changes proposed
  • The need to increase the amount of affordable housing
  • Use of local labour and suppliers
  • What are the archaeological findings?

As and when PG do revise their application any comments already submitted will potentially have reduced relevance.  Equally the planners will need to be clear if comments submitted after the submission of any revisions by PG refer to the orginal or revised proposals. CAG would like to see any confusion avoided so that quick and effective decisions can be made by the planning authority.

The S.73 application, any revisions and all comments can be found at https://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=PRLISBDNHHU00

As and when the revisions are submitted by PG we will post an update on this website.

Notes of 10 July 2019 Community Meeting

Nearly 30 people attended the Carriageworks Community Meeting at St Pauls Learning Centre on 10 July.  PG Group, the developer, was there to explain their latest proposed changes to the existing planning permission.

At the beginning Lori Streich, the Chair of the Carriageworks Liaison Group, outline the objections to the proposed cahnges as concerns about:

  • the Ashley Road frontage
  • the height of the Ashley Road part of Block A
  • the treatment of the gateway from Ashley Road into the site

PG said that they understood these concerns and had made further changes in response.  They noted that the scheme designed by Fifth Capital / Assael and granted planning permission was never intended for build – it was just to get planning permission. PG now have to deal with practicalities, contractors, building regs etc. The proposed changes are grounded in the reality that this difficult and tight site needs to be made viable. The changes are:

  • Introduction of horizontality using Bathstone across the whole frontage
  • Accenting of the windows
  • Introduced railed Juliet balconies to break up the frontage
  • Restored commercial units as in the Assael drawings
  • Taken the fifth floor and recessed it 4-5m so not visible from top of Picton St.
  • The building footprint remains the same
  • Clarification that corner commercial unit is recessed so not visible from the viewpoint in the cgi drawing. Entrance is wider and then narrows to width of existing scheme. Commercial unit is still glassy, but have removed the curved glass frontage. Recess was necessary for fire access turning circle.

IMG_0276.JPGDrawings of these proposed changes were on display and can be seen on our website. At the time of writing they have not been submitted to the planners.

Subsequent discussion focused on:

  • Use of local labour (including young people) and suppliers. PG confirmed that this will happen but that they have not yet reached the stage of dealing with the details of this issue.
  • Archaeology. PG confirmed that a report has been prepared, that nothing unexpected has been found and that the report will be shared in due course.
  • The Council’s previous rejection of six stories fronting Ashley Road. PG commented that the Council’s agendas have changed since 2015 and that there is now greater focus on the overall scheme and the place that will be created. Rather than looking at the precise number of stories they will be looking at the overall benefits of the development.  Density of the scheme is at the lower end of the scale compared to other developments coming forward in Bristol.
  • Lighting and shadowing from the scheme.
  • Whether a Section 73 application (amendment to an existing permission) is appropriate given the scale of changes proposed.
  • Affordable housing.  PG said that they are discussing with the City Council the potential to increased the number of affordable units, but they need to have a viable scheme before they agree anything. Affordable housing, in itself, does not improve the viability.
  • Viability.  PG said that the existing planning permission does not provide a viable scheme. If these changes are not approved they do not have a viable development.
  • Hepburn Road frontage and concerns about the bolt-on window screens (as opposed to triangular windows in the planning permission that prevent overlooking into neighbours’ gardens)

Currently the material changes application will have to go to Committee due to the number of objections (20 is the threshold but over 100 have been received).

There was further group discussion about the proposed changes and also about the Cultural Plan.

Cultural Plan comments

  • Question 1: What % mixture of uses would you like to see between: retail, bars / cafes, day /night time uses, other commercial, voluntary / community, other – in which case, which ones?
    • Answer: A bit of everything. Nothing late night as it’s a residential area. 70% commercial, 30% community / voluntary. But mixed up together.
    • Answer: No night time uses. Some twilight uses. Lots of daytime uses.
  • Question 2: What % mix of tenants would you like to see between: local sole traders, sole traders from elsewhere, local chains, national multiples 

    • Answer: Local sole traders – yes. Sole traders from elsewhere – possibly. Local chains: yes. National multiples – definitely not.
  • Question 3: What do you think the greatest challenges are going to be for whoever manages the space?
    • Answer: Get it on people’s route, to walk through and into the space and the market, the entrance ways, activities, marketing are all going to be really important to get it moving and active
  • Question 4: Should PG be immediately working with CAG on the details of how the ground floor is used and managed?
    • Answer: Yes, of course
  • Question 5: Other issues to consider?
    • Answer: Element of public art that does need to be in it all and the way in which management and culture work together and share the same vision. No good to have management that don’t see what we’re trying to do. And no point in having flaky people doing lovely things that are not viable. Must be viable and enough businesses to make it constantly lively.
    • Whichever estate / management agent is in there must buy into the cultural plan. Problematic if the agent deviates from the plan.
    • CAG’s responsibility is to make sure we are realistic enough around viability but not to lose heart altogether.

Additional design comments:

  • Current gateway does not lend itself to a friendly advert for what’s going inside. Access for traders is poor. Proposal has lost the loading layby in front of Block A.
  • Don’t like the façade too much and height is too much
  • Female safety in stair wells
  • Critical of the elevations
  • Doesn’t have the syntax of a row of shops

Amendments to design of Block A – July 2019

We have just this evening received from PG these proposed changes to the designs of Block A.  We have the community meeting tomorrow (Wed 10th July 6:30pm at St Pauls Learning Centre) so wanted to get these drawings to you as soon as possible.  We haven’t yet had a chance to look at them.

Click the images below to open a PDF in a new tab.

Community Meeting – 10 July

There will be a Carriageworks Community Meeting on Wednesday 10 July, 6:30 to 8:30pm at St Pauls Learning Centre.

PG Group will be there to introduce and answer questions about their application to amend parts of the current planning permission on the site. More details of this at https://carriageworks.org.uk/2019/06/14/consultation-on-new-pg-planning-application-submit-your-comments/

Consultation on new PG planning application – submit your comments

PG have submitted a planning application to change Block A, the building that fronts Ashley Road. 

The application is a Section 73 application to make material amendments to the existing permission. So it is not a brand new application, but it is much more significant that the non-material applications that PG were submitting earlier this year.

You can see all the online files on the City Council’s website where you can also formally submit your comments. The application number is 19/02364/X.

At our community meeting on 16 May there were great concerns about the emerging proposals. Specifically: the height and mass in proportion to nearby buildings, the design of the shop fronts, the facade design and the materials.

Material amendments to a planning pemission are sometimes referred to the Planning Committee if requested by the committee members or if the planning officers consider it is justified e.g. if there are significant objections and or changes to the design of the building. Submitting your views to the proposals is therefore important.

The public consultation formally ends on 19th June (although this may be extended in practice) so please send your comments to the Council today and also copy them to us so that we can represent your views effectively and so that others can see what you’ve said.

Given the importance of the proposed changes and also the concerns about the Cultural Plan we are having another Community Meeting on Wed 10 July, 6:30pm at a venue to be decided. Put it in your diary and we’ll let you know the venue closer to the time. At the meeting we will have copies of the proposed changes.

CAG has always been committed to working with any developer who will help deliver the community vision and end the very long dereliction of this site. But we will not support a developer who does not deliver the vision.

The revised plan can be seen below along with the plan for which permission was granted. You can see the difference in scale on Ashley Road, and a different design for the entrance into the commercial and market space. (Note that the architects for the permissioned scheme deliberately left the more distant Block A2 uncoloured in order to reduce its visual impact).

May 2019 planning application

2019 Proposed Design

2015 Scheme with Planning Permission

2019 Proposed Design

Diag 4: Site cross section showing east elevation of Blocks A1 and A2 (from 2015 planning permission)

2019 Proposed ground floor plan

2015 Ground floor plan with permission

The Carriageworks is not an easy site to develop. The PG Group has been very open in saying that the cost of clearing it was higher than anticipated and that the build cost is also likely to be higher than expected. Given the current political climate it is also very difficult for them to be clear on potential selling prices for the flats.

But we also need to be aware of the architectural context and the fit of these designs. Above all it is a very important gateway site, with the Carriageworks, one of Bristol’s most architecturally important and impressive historic buildings, at its heart. So these designs must be given careful thought and a considered response. We urgently need your responses if we are to represent your views effectively. Every view received by the council will help and every one is important.