Report from Nov ’18 Community Meeting

Meeting on 28 November 2018 attended by c.35 people including 7 from PG Group.

Note: We will publish copies of the floorplans, elevations and CGIs as soon as they are received – hopefully by 3rd or 4th December.

Site Update

  • Asbestos has all been cleared and Wrings now have heavy equipment on site to demolish Westmorland House. This will be the most visible part of site preparation. Anticipate completion by Christmas.
  • Trenches will be dug for the archaeological investigation after Christmas.
  • Target is to start building in the Spring 2019. It will be a two year build programme.

Scheme Changes

PG have been working on the designs since the site was purchased. Clear that the scheme that was given planning permission was not worked up with construction in mind; more an exercise in securing planning permission. So changes are needed. There are three broad categories of changes:
1. Changes made arising from feedback received over the last year

  1. Changes to make more efficient and better use of the space
  2. Changes which push the envelope in order to get more floor space and help the scheme’s viability.

Sequence of Changes to Planning Permission

PG want to avoid submitting a new planning application in which everything would have to be reconsidered. Instead they want to seek permission for smaller changes, one at a time. They will tackle the smallest changes first and then those that will require a new planning permission.

1. Westmorland House

Changes to window details and to bring forward recessed balconies on the left hand (north) side.

2. Carriageworks

Changes to the roof to allow stair and lift core to reach the top floor. Previously the top floor comprised duplex units with internal stairs. These have now been replaced with regular flats. This will need new listed building consent (s19 Notice) which will be dealt with at officer level so a shorter process than applying for listed building consent from scratch.

3. Block D

This is the affordable housing block. All the affordable units have to be under one roof; RPs (aka Housing Associations) will not accept otherwise.

  • The two ground floor residential units will be changed to commercial use.
  • There will be an additional storey with four residential units, so a net gain of two units (i.e. a total of 12 affordable units).
  • A lift will be added so that all flats are accessible.
  • Overall height of the building will be no different to the height of the stair housing previously leading to the roof garden. Shadowing of neighbouring properties will need to be carefully examined via a BRE209 report. (The Council’s new Urban Living planning policy seeks to protect the daylighting and sunlighting of existing buildings). It was pointed out that existing shadow diagrams do not show garden walls on Hepburn Road which gives the impression that there is more existing direct sunlight than there actually is.

These changes will need a full planning application. Don’t yet know if this will be dealt with at officer level or if will have to go to committee (a committee decision will usually be required if: councillors so require, or officers think the matter is significant, or there are more than 20 public objections). A committee decision will add about one month to the decision process. Adding the additional storey is essential for overall viability of the development.

4. Block A

Proposed changes:

  • The building will have one stair and lift core instead of the previous two. Previous design anticipated a taller building so two cores were required. This is not necessary for a six storey building. A sprinkler system and mechanical ventilation will ensure fire safety.
  • Rationalisation of service rooms including bin and bike stores to improve layout and make better use of space, but with no overall loss of facilities.
  • Plans show two empty residential units coloured blue – should be shown as yellow (commercial).
  • The Ashley Road frontage will be increased by a single storey and a fifth floor will be setback. From eye level it will look like a taller building. CGI (which will be prepared) will help show the change. Comments were made that this will introduce much more commercial type building to Ashley Road which has previously been residential in scale. Previous scheme had Block A stepping down from Tuckets building but elevations now show it stepping up.
  • Windows facing south towards Hepburn Road previously protected privacy of neighbours by their triangular form. This has now been replaced by bolt-on louvre screens. There was concern that this is an inferior solution and it was suggested that there should be a specific meeting with Hepburn Road residents to address this issue in more detail. PG agreed to the meeting.

Block A will need a full planning permission for a) change of use of all of ground floor b) additional storey.

Timescale

PG hope to have planning issues for Westmorland House (Block B) and Carriageworks (Block C) sorted out by mid February 2019.

Block D will be dealt with after mid February. Will need 13 weeks minimum but with S.106 could need 4 months to complete.

Overall process could be concertinaed by submitting all at the same time, but that potentially creates problems with overlapping applications.

Other Changes and Issues

Market Square

Whole of ground floor surrounding the square will be made commercial. Small planted area and wall in southern corner also removed. Helps give the square a better feel and will allow for more market stalls. Converting four residential units to commercial has no overall impact on viability.

Rooftop Gardens / Amenity Spaces

Feedback from Registered Providers (aka Housing Associations) is that roof gardens and amenity spaces are too expensive to maintain. They are therefore being taken out.

Commercial / Retail Units

Q re frontage of the commercial units in Block A which do not have large retail type windows. PG said their intention is to keep unit design as flexible as possible. They can then be adapted to occupiers / purchasers needs so if different frontages are required PG can do that. At this stage however PG do not intend to change the proposals any more than is absolutely necessary (to avoid having to make a new full planning application).

Total Number of Residential Units

2 additional affordable units. 12 additional private sale.

Some of three bed flats are being changed into one bed flats as no market for the larger ones. There is more market for one bed flats.

Four bed houses are unchanged.

Social Housing

PG have been in touch with Registered Providers (Housing Associations) who are interested in buying units. Also held discussions with Bristol City Council. However, PG have to make sure that the scheme is viable before they can discuss terms for residential units.

Block D will be affordable housing. Ten will be on shared ownership basis, the additional two may also be shared ownership. RPs might buy additional units but they will want complete flexibility on how they use those i.e. private rented, affordable or social.

Cultural Plan

Continuing in the background.

Timescale for Feedback

Comments from CAG to PG by Christmas. PG will then make applications after Christmas.  If you have any comments please send them to ideas@carriageworks.org.uk and we will forward them to PG.

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Photos from a Site Visit

On 7 June members of Carriageworks Action Group were given access to the site. Safety issues meant we couldn’t enter the buildings (or even get up next to them) but Wrings, the demolition contractors, were brilliant in getting us as close as possible and explaining everything that was going on.

While work has not yet started on either Westmorland House or the Carriageworks, the rest of the site has been cleared and demolition has started to a smaller building backing onto Croft Dale (Hepburn Road).

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Cleared site. No.4 Ashley Road (the old Doctor’s surgery) has completely gone (we were told it virtually fell down by itself it was so weak). Once demolition is completed the archaeologists will dig an investigation trench – it’s possible that they will find fortifications from the civil war (Cromwells forces camped at Montpelier Farm in 1645 and then attacked the royalist held Priors Hill Fort, now Freemantle Sq at the top of Nine Tree Hill. Spurworks or redoubts below the fort may have been on the Carriageworks site).

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Rear view of Tucketts building. Negotiations about the party wall are ongoing with the owners.

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This building backs onto and is attached to Croft Dale (Hepburn Road). As a result it’s being demolished by hand. The steel cross beams visible at the top of the picture will be lifted out by crane next week (beginning 11 June).

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The scaffolding has been built to cantilever out over Croft Dale, giving safe access to the upper parts of the building being demolished.

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Vast amounts of rubble are being created. This pile is from the building backing Croft Dale. Much of it will be crushed and reused on site, but the total volume will exceed that which is needed, so the rest will be removed.

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This is the back wall of Kuumba. There’s a significant difference in levels between Kuumba (Hepburn Road) and the Carriageworks site. The building backing Croft Dale is in the background.

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The rear view of the Carriageworks. Fire went through the building many years ago so it still isn’t safe to access. There are bats inside which has caused delays in getting access. You can clearly see the roof line and northlights of the workshops that attached to the back of the building.

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The rear wall of the Carriageworks is older than the frontage but of less architectural significance. You can see some of the old stonework where the more modern render has detached. The whole building is listed, so the rear wall is also protected.

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Rear view of Westmorland House, completed in 1966 but only occupied for about 16 years, it has now been derelict for 26 years.

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Covered in streetart / graffitti and imposing itself on the local landscape and culture, Westmorland House has echos of and almost the same age as the Berlin Wall (1961-89).

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While scaffolding has been installed to give a degree of safety, the workers rarely enter. In the past however many people have been in, as evidenced by the graffitti. Tragically the inherent danger of the building resulted in a number of people losing their lives here.

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Over the years the interior of Westmorland House was heavily vandalised. Asbestos ceiling tiles were pulled down and dumped in the lift shaft, making for a more difficult removal job.

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The boardroom in Westmorland House was panelled with Nigerian Pear Wood and had a domed roof light just visible in this picture. You can read more about the building as it was on our stories page. All the valuables were plundered in the 1980s.

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There’s a basement below Westmorland House, totally filled with rubbish, needles etc. This will all have to be cleared out before demolition can begin.

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Wrings have got some very nice toys.

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Familiar sight of the Carriageworks frontage. Before works begin this will be shored up which will mean narrowing of the road. First of all though Wrings need to make the interior safe engough to go inside and assess the structural strength of the building.

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Frontage of Westmorland House. Beneath the building is a single storey basement that will have to be cleared and then dug out – necessitating shoring up of the road. The basement will then be backfilled in layers to help provide a foundation for the new building.

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Staff on the site have created a little gallery of items and artwork discovered.

Thank you very much to Wrings and PG Group for giving us this viewing of the site.

Important update from PG re demolition of 4 Ashley Road

PG Group have written to say:

“Wrings have been on site for the last few days and removing foliage around the site, especially No 4 Ashley Road. It has become very apparent that this building is in a far more fragile state than was previously thought. At a project meeting today, Wrings reported on the state of this building and given the importance of Health and Safety, the decision has been made to bring forward the demolition of N0 4. Starting on Wednesday of next week, 14/2, Wrings are going to carefully reduced the building in a controlled manner. This will allow Wrings to open up the site to allow better site set up and access for the archaeologist. It will also make it safer for machinery moving around the site. Time lapse cameras have already been planned to be set up on Tuesday 13th, so these will record the entire process.”

The Archaeology of Westmorland House

One of the planning conditions attached to the redevelopment of the Carriageworks states that no development shall take place until the developer has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work. This is to ensure that archaeological remains and features are recorded prior to their destruction.

Commonly ‘archaeology’ is synonymous with ‘old’. So on the Carriageworks site it might include traces of the Civil War, foundations of buildings previously on the site, remains from previous uses of the Carriageworks building etc.  But what about evidence of more recent activity?

Back in 2010 archaeologists John Schofield and Rachael Kiddey worked with a group of rough sleepers to excavate Turbo Island on Stokes Croft and explore the history of one of Bristol’s small but infamous plots of land. It culminated in A History of Stokes Croft in 100 Objects that encompassed everything from the traditional fragments of buildings, pottery and pipes through to modern syringes, all of which contribute to the history of the site. John Schofield, now Professor at the University of York, went on to describe, somewhat notoriously, the importance of the Sex Pistol’s graffiti at 6 Denmark St in London as comparable to 30,000 year old cave painting in Lascaux. Historic England have now listed the building. So archaeology can be modern as well as old – and it both aids our current understanding and documents our recent lives for the benefit of generations to come.

Skull on Westmorland House. Credit: PRSC

So what does this mean for the Carriageworks and its neighbour Westmorland House which is due for demolition? The derelict office block has provided a canvas for many street artists since the 1990s some of whom have gone on to greater things while others simply commented on the local environment at the time; “choking on your fumes”.

We hope that the archaeological recording, to be undertaken by Bristol and West Archaeological Services, will pay attention to the modern as well as the old.