34 people inc Bristol Post and c.12 UWE architecture students
Introduction by Lori
Today is a celebration of Comer no longer owning the Carriageworks. To reach this point has taken a collective effort. Over the last 20 years redevelopment schemes have come and gone but the dereliction has continued. CAG was formed in 2011 and since then we have been pushing and pushing. We haven’t stopped and we haven’t let the Council or even Comer stop. We kept going, kept having community meetings, kept up the pressure. Without us it is very likely that proposals would have been dropped maybe when Knightstone withdrew, maybe when compulsory purchase looked harder, maybe when Fifth Capital emerged, or at many other times. Success has come from a combination of many people working together and being stubborn along the way. Together, we did it.
PG Group were invited to this meeting but for many reasons why they couldn’t come. They will definitely be developing the site. This is an opportunity to remind us what they will be building. We will pass on any questions.
Copy of PG Group’s letter to residents available. Sent to households in the streets adjoining the site. A second batch will go to a wider area and to businesses on Stokes Croft. Comments: Kino and Post Office have not had a copy. People took more to distribute themselves.
Site plans were on display. PG will develop as approved so that they don’t have to seek a new permission.
They will start demolishing Westmorland House in January, but we don’t know when (PG may not have a date yet from demolition contractor). They will start building in March / April.
(CAG will seek answers to all the questions raised and post them on our website)
Q: Will we (Cafe Kino) be able to operate our business while they are demolishing? And when will they tackle the site behind us? Kino have had no feedback from discussions between PG and the landlord. A: This sort of question should be answered on PG’s own website although at the moment there’s very little information.
Things have really started happening at the Carriageworks. And there’s a community meeting on 27 November to find out more (details at the bottom of this page).
On 8th October the site residents packed up and ended their long guardianship of the site. Thank you from CAG to everyone who lived on the site over the years, thank you for being part of the community and thank you for keeping it safe. And good luck with wherever life takes you. You can read more about the last night and the handover on our website.
On 9th October Comer’s security company arrived to take possession of the site. This cleared the way for PG Group to set a date to complete their purchase (they had exchanged contracts earlier in the year with completion being conditional upon vacant possession).
In late September the PG Group’s planning consultants applied to discharge various planning conditions. They are also in the process of appointing consultants to prepare the cultural plan for the development (as discussed at last meeting).
Change of Ownership
On 6th November we heard from Marc Pennick that PG Group had completed their purchase and became the legal owners of the Carriageworks. After 30 years of ownership Comer is gone. This in itself is a major step forward and makes redevelopment of the site infinitely more likely to proceed. Read more on our website.
From 6 November PG Group started distributing a letter to all local residents telling them what will be happening on the site. Read a summary and download the letter from our website.
Activities on Site
Since the site residents left PG Group have had surveyors and engineers on the site working out the details of the next steps. They now plan to start demolition of Westmorland House (not the old Carriageworks building) in January and start redevelopment in March / April.
CAG are maintaining close contact with PG Group.
We’ll be holding our next Community Meeting on Monday 27 November at Kings Centre, King Square from 6-8pm. This will be a chance not only to celebrate the change of ownership but also to understand what will be happening in the coming months and discuss CAG’s input. PG Group won’t be at this meeting but will be coming to the following meeting in the new year.
We look forward to seeing you next Monday.
32 people attended including reps of PG Group and their consultants, CAG Liaison Group and residents, businesses and other interested parties. Thangam Debbonaire MP called in briefly before the start.
Order of summary below is rearranged for logic and convenience so may not reflect actual order of the discussions.
Changes to Planning Conditions
A summary of the proposed changes was circulated (click to download pdf). Main focus to date of discussions between CAG Liaison Group and PG Group has been variations to the pre-commencement conditions to the planning permission. Focus is on phasing a complicated set of conditions to allow things to happen in more rational and workable order e.g. allow for demolition of building before carrying out historical investigation below.
When Fifth Capital were granted planning permission back in October 2015 one of the conditions stated:
“Prior to the commencement of any construction works for the development a Cultural Programme Delivery Plan shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. This shall set out the details of the Cultural Programme Steering Group, co-ordinated by an appointed programme manager. This Delivery Plan shall set out clear principles for the delivery of cultural projects to be delivered within the site. Reason: In the interests of the proper management of the site.”
It was also a requirement of the permission that the developers consult and work with local stakeholders, including the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG), on certain planning conditions including the cultural plan, public art, local employment, long term management and external finishes.
From the outset, when we submitted a Cultural Strategy Position Paper (pdf) to PG, CAG has believed that the Cultural Plan should encompass all the cultural aspects of the scheme i.e. economic, environmental and social. As such it can address local employment, long term managment, public art etc. We fully accept that it cannot redefine or change the development, but there are still opportunities to consider and influence how the scheme will be impacted by and impact upon the local area and its culture in the short and long term.
When the Liaison Group met with PG on 12 July it was agreed that we should draft a specification for the Cultural Plan and suggest organisations that might be able to prepare it. Click to read our draft specification (pdf). When we met again on 30 August there was a lively debate about the Plan, its purpose and who should write it with PG’s consultants taking a different view of its function and its commissioning. There will likely be further discussion at the Community Meeting on 4 September.
There will be a Community Meeting on Monday 4 September, 6pm at the Kings Centre, King Sq.
PG Group will be attending the meeting.
We will be discussing their proposed changes to the pre-commencement conditions, their programme of work and the commissioning of the Cultural Plan for the site.
On 8 August PG Group submitted an application to vary the conditions attached to the planning permission gained by Fifth Capital in October 2015. The application has to be determined by Tuesday 07 Nov 2017.
The application and supporting documents can be found on the Council’s planning portal. Public comments can be submitted via the portal.
Bristol based planning consultants CSJ provide the supporting planning statement. To summarise:
- There are many pre-commencement conditions that have to be dealt with prior to demolition. This impacts on feasibility and deliverarbility of the project.
- Planning permission expires in July 2018 so there is limited time.
- Delaying some of the conditions until after demolition will allow for site constraints to be properly assessed, investigative works and preparation of a suitable construction contract.
- The Carriageworks is unsafe and therefore needs demolition of the rear wall and internal structure (see justification below).
The meeting was attended by c.50 people including members of the CAG Liaison Group (Lori Streich, Simon Lewis, Pete Bullard, Jeff Butterfield, Janine McCretton, Prue Hardwick, Julian Mellor), PG Group (Stuart Gaiger, Sam Woollcott and Jenny Gee), residents, councillors, reps of local and interested organisations, and media. Lori Streich, Chair of CAG, chaired the meeting.
Stuart Gaiger introduced the PG Group and their proposals for the Carriageworks.
- PG Group has been developing property in Bristol since 2002. They tend to focus on residential schemes including new build, conversions and listed buildings. They work either in or within about 2 hours of Bristol, but Bristol is their focus. In the past they have taken on tricky and challenging sites (e.g. Bedminster Parade) but the Carriageworks will be the most challenging to date.
- PG Group are buying the Carriageworks site. Stuart Gaiger stressed that Opecprime (the current owners) cannot pull out of the sale.
- PG Group will deliver the scheme that went to Planning Committee in October 2015 so they will not be seeking to change the height, scale, mix or number of units. Appointment of the design team (architects, engineers, contractors etc) will be complete within the next month or so.
- Construction will start in early 2018. The build programme will last 18-24 months, so aiming at completion in Autumn 2019.
- Jenny Gee will provide community engagement on behalf of PG Group. She praised CAG for its work to date and is keen we work together. She will setup a website that will provide updates on progress with the proposals and enable people to leave comments.
Lori Streich stressed that CAG is committed to work with any developer that delivers the Community Vision. The details of how CAG and PG Group work together will evolve in time but at the very least we have a role defined by the planning permission.
There was then discussion between people attending and PG Group the main points of which were:
- Can we be clear that Comer are not imposing any staged conditions along the way, that it is an outright sale?
- Can PG Group walk away?
- Does PG Group own other properties in Stokes Croft?
- CAG has worked to change the scheme to get more vibrancy and connections with the neighbourhood. The site will direct the future direction of Stokes Croft, it is talismanic. How visionary will you be? Could there be parts of the scheme in community ownership? Need to make it really great – a benchmark for here and the rest of the country. Will you do something that is genuinely extraordinary and truly amazing?
- SG: Yes! We want this to be an exemplar scheme. We don’t want to build bland schemes. Currently working through the mundane stuff but happy to have dialogue. The more input, especially regarding the ground floor, the more life we give to those areas. The units are more suited to small traders – we can do something different. We are under no illusion how important those buildings are. We support the Community Vision.
- Commitment to community:
- SG and SW: We are very vested in Bristol. All the money we have made on other schemes will be spent on this one. Our reputation in the city is important. A poor scheme will not do us any favours.
- Are the opportunities for investment of social capital that might deliver different aims?
- SG: The scheme is fully funded. It’s worth having the conversation about social capital and where it might apply, but have to make sure we know what we’re getting into and that we can deliver.
- Development partners:
- PG Group do not employ their own builders so will contract with a construction company. They are working through tenders but likely that it will be a Bristol firm.
- Will you revisit 9% affordable housing? Involvement of RSL could benefit everyone.
- SG: We have arranged to meet the Homes and Communities Agency (and willing to meet BCC as well) to see what potential there might be for change. Don’t want to make changes if it means that a new planning application is required (considerable time and cost implications), but open to dialogue if it can be done without needing a new permission. SG stressed that they want to deliver the best scheme for the area and that they are looking to do what they can.
- Lori committed CAG’s help if it means the scheme gets closer to the Community Vision (which states “We want to see a true mix of housing types for sale and for rent including private and social housing, both low and high cost”)
- Any scope for underground parking?
- SG: Don’t intend to provide more than the 6 spaces in the permission. Would require new planning permission. Proximity to city centre means a car isn’t necessary. Anticipate there is very heavy stone not far below the surface which would rule out underground parking. There will be provision for commercial deliveries.
- Is there a Registered Social Landlord involved?
- SG: No – whole development will be delivered by PG Group.
- Can Carriageworks restoration be delivered within constraints of the existing planning permission?
- SG: Engineers will have to assess the building. We know some parts are lost (e.g. fire damaged floors). The fact that the building still stands c.10 years after fire damage is a good sign. We’ll know more in the next few months.
- Rear wall of Carriageworks building is damaged and has little merit but its retention constrains use of the building.
- Quentin Alder (Chair of BCC Conservation Advisory Panel): Listing is of the whole building. There is always a balance – if there is little historic fabric remaining there could be an argument to start again. Planners will have to assess this.
- Chris Chalkley: Godwin would have questioned everything and say look at it again with fresh eyes. When built, the Carriageworks was all about the facade – the world’s first showroom.
- The scheme will be built as one phase although it is likely that some parts will be completed before others.
- Presence on site:
- Contractors will have site office. Likely that SG will be mostly based there.
- What is happening with the Travellers on the site?
- Prue: At both parties’ request CAG facilitated a meeting between the travellers and PG Group. They are now in direct contact and working with each other. CAG is still there if needed but otherwise we’ll let them get on with things.
- Will there be road closures?
- SG: Not yet at the stage of knowing. Contractor will put together a site access and delivery plan. Likely to be pavement closure outside the Carriageworks building. Will find ways of dealing with this closer to the time.
- Lori: Likely to be tricky given site constraints. CAG has suggestions for Highways. Lets talk when we get there.
After Completion of Works
- Post development management company:
- Likely to be one company to maintain the residential areas and another to manage the ground floor.
- Does PG Group intend to retain ownership of commercial units?
- SG: Would like to retain, but key thing is to get the right occupiers, flavour and mix. Some may want to buy, others to rent. Nothing set in stone but definitely don’t want boarded up units or the wrong occupiers. Flexibility is key.
What would Godwin do?
People liked the idea that this would be a good question to ask as proposals develop.
What Happens Next?
- PG Group will appoint design team and contractor
- PG Group will carry out site surveys through the summer (access by arrangement with the site residents)
- Next meeting with CAG in early September by when the site challenges etc will be better understood. Contractors will attend.
The Bristol Post also reported on the meeting: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/landmark-bristol-building-derelict-30-112724