PG Submit Application to Vary Planning Conditions

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.

Planning Statement

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).

PG are proposing changes to 11 conditions attached to the planning permission (one more than we were told about in July) and 2 conditions attached to the listed building consent. These are summarised in the table below.  PG’s stated aim is to avoid delays and “provide precision to the wording of the conditions” but that “the proposed variations will not prejudice the reasons for imposing the relevant conditions”.

Justification For Early Demolition

Bristol construction company Bray and Slaughter provide a justification for early demolition of Westmorland House and parts of the Carriageworks.  This mostly refers to the structural weakness of the Carriageworks due to fire and weather damage plus asbestos which all result in health and safety risks. While these are not new the danger posed prevents further investigations which are needed for structural design to proceed e.g. to establish: the foundation lines of neighbouring buildings, site contamination, ground conditions etc.

The report also refers to the intention to crush Westmorland House’s concrete frame on site for reuse as “a working platform / possible piling mat”.

CAG’s Response

The PG Group told us about the proposed changes in July which we summarised in our post on 21 July on this website. CAG’s position is that we will work with any developer who embraces our Vision. We understand the difficulties that some of the conditions pose for PG, especially given the complexity of carrying out demolition on the site. There is however a long history of this community having the proverbial done to it so, while we don’t want to delay or frustrate the development process, there is an inclination to take a cautious approach to the detail and everything that lies within.

We sent an initial response agreeing with some of the changes and questioning others.  PG sent clarification of some points some of which we still questioned, but to avoid holding everything up we agreed, for the moment, to disagree on some of the wording (mainly relating to contamination). This will be discussed at the Community Meeting on 4 September and the following weeks.

PG’s proposed changes and our initial response are summarised below.

Condition Number Subject Change sought CAG’s initial comment
2 No demolition before construction contract signed Amend wording so that the build contract can be prepared and signed after demolition. No objection
3 No development before materials and finishes approved Allow for demolition before approval No objection
4 Remediate any contaminiation before development Allow for approved demolition before remediation Conditions 4, 19, and 20 are inter-related. No objection to the principel but we want certainty that contamination discovered during demolition is properly dealt with.
11 Before development begins, speficiation of built-in bird nests and bat roosts to be agreed Allow for demolition before agreeing the spec No objection
18 No development before those parts of historic buildings that will be disturbed have been recorded Prior to each stage of demolition historic parts will be recorded The initial proposed change sought a blanket exemption for demolition phase. The actual proposal responds to our concerns that recording should be during, not after, demolition.
19 No development before contamination remediation scheme is approved Allow for demolition before scheme is approved As for Condition 4 above
20 No development until extent of any contamination has been assessed Allow for demolition before assessing contamination  As for Conditions 4 and 19 above
22 No development before sustainable drainage strategy is approved Allow for demolition before submitting strategy  No objection
23 No development before scheme is registered with Code for Sustainable Homes registration beody CSH now replaced by Building Regs. Allow for demolition first. No objection
24 No development until registered with BREEAM Allow demolition before registration  No objection
43  Approved plans Amendments to allow for demolition of Carriageworks rear wall and internal structure This was not included in our earlier discussions.

Changes sought in relation to the listed building consent are summarised as follows:

Condition Number Subject Change sought CAG’s initial comment
 4 No development before those parts of historic buildings that will be disturbed have been recorded Prior to each stage of demolition, survey and record historic parts  As for 18 above
 5  Approved plans Amendments to allow for demolition of Carriageworks rear wall and internal structure This was not included in our earlier discussions.

The application includes some drawings by Assael from the original planning application and some prepared more recently by Stride Tregowan, PG’s architects.  The main change is the proposed demolition of the rear wall and internal structure of the Carriageworks. The front facade will be retained and temporarily propped.

Other points that have arisen during the dialogue are:

  • Sight of the contamination plan and remediation strategy
  • The target level of sustainable design for the residential units now that the Code for Sustainable Homes has been abolished
  • Clarification on the BREEAM standard sought

Site Ownership

For information: The application form shows that the site is still owned by Opec Prime.  We understand that ownership will transfer to PG Group in early October.

Community Meeting

The application will be discussed at the Community Meeting on 4 September, 6pm at a venue to be confirmed. PG Group will be attending the meeting.

Report from 14 June 2017 Community Meeting

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:

Site Acquisition

  • Can we be clear that Comer are not imposing any staged conditions along the way, that it is an outright sale?
    • SG: That is correct.
  • Can PG Group walk away?
    • SG: No. We’re committed.
  • Does PG Group own other properties in Stokes Croft?
    • SG: No

Vision

  • 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.

Site Proposals

  • 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.

Building Works

  • Phasing:
    • 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

 

New Developer Confirmed

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The Carriageworks has a new developer!  Following much recent speculation the Carriageworks Action Group can now confirm that the new developer is the Bristol based PG Group. They have exchanged contracts with Opecprime (aka Comer Homes) to purchase the freehold of the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site and aim to start building in January.

The PG Group have given us this statement to publish:

PG Group logo“The PG Group has acquired the site from Opecprime Properties Ltd with the benefit of the planning consent granted in July last year, and will now start work on a wide range of preliminary assessments,” said Stuart Gaiger, PG Group Development Director.

Mr Gaiger said purchase of Westmoreland House would allow the creation of a development that could contribute positively to an already vibrant community and that the company had already made contact with the Carriageworks Action Group with a view to keeping the community involved in the development of the projected scheme.

“We want to deliver an enterprising development that respects and reflects the community ethos and, given the independent spirit that flourishes around the area, we look forward to some lively and interesting discussions.”

Lori Streich, Chair of Carriageworks Action Group, said: “We welcome this news that PG Group are buying the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site. For over 25 years the communities adjoining Stokes Croft have lived with the neglect and dereliction. As a local developer we hope that PG Group will have the skill and commitment to deliver a development of which the community can be proud”.

Stuart Gaiger and his colleagues from the PG Group will be attending the Community Meeting on Wednesday 14 June, 6pm at the Kings Centre, King Square where they will say more about their plans and proposals to get the development going.  Please come along to find out more and to pose any questions you may have.

Who are PG Group?

What are PG Group’s plans and timescale?

What’s happened to Fifth Capital?

Community Meeting, Wed 14 June

You might recall that at the last community meeting in April we heard that there is a Bristol based developer who is likely to take over development of the Carriageworks site from Fifth Capital.  We are not yet able to confirm the identity of that developer. However, we can with an optimistic tap on the keyboard invite you to a Community Meeting on Wednesday 14th June, 6pm at the Kings Centre, King Square.  Further details about the meeting will be published earlier that week but you might want to put the date in your diary – it should be worth coming along!

Lori and the Liaison Group

Notes of the Community Meeting on 24 April 2017

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Attended by: Lori, Prue, Pete, Jeff, Chris, Julian, Sarah, Kimberley, Rich, Mel, Clayton, Dominic, Danuta, Heather, John, Pauline, Inge, Joel, Harvey, Rachel, Janine, Lawrence, Rob, Mike, Simon, one other.

Update re Developer

Lori spoke to Marc Pennick of Fifth Capital in the morning. There is a Bristol based developer who is taking over the development of the site. This information has been confirmed by a number of separate sources.

The details of the take-over are not yet known but we think they are well advanced in buying the site from Comer / Opec Prime. We don’t know what the future involvement of Fifth Capital will be.

We will let the group know who the developer is as soon as we can. The Liaison Group is pushing for an early meeting with the new developer and will ask them to come to a community meeting as soon as possible.

We do not yet know if the new developer will build the scheme with planning permission but we anticipate that some amendments are likely. Dominic pointed out that any alterations will require a new consent. We must ensure that it is the Community Vision that guides decisions regarding any changes and that CAG is involved in the dialogue. Reminder of the number of comments we received when writing the Vision (1,600) and the number of objections to the first Fifth Capital planning application (1,400).

There was concern that a new developer will argue that some elements of the scheme are not viable and therefore need to be amended. We need to resist this. We can point to the amount of interest in the scheme (two RSLs, various users of the commercial space) plus rising values as evidence of viability.

Noted that the new developers need to realise that it is not just about them and that there are other stakeholders. They have to take us seriously. We have achieved a great deal so far and we will seek a positive relationship with the new developer, but we need to get around the table and talk so that we work with and not against eachother. We can help make the development exciting for the developer as well as us.

Community Ownership

Discussion about the potential for the community to have a real stake in the finished development and ensure it doesn’t become an exclusive development with little relevance to the surrounding area.

Previous meeting had discussed a direct approach to Comer (Lori reported that a letter had been sent and while we know it was received we have had no reply) with a view to buying an interest. Cost would be probably be £2-5m and then £20m to develop. Potential to place a Community Right to Bid order on the site – gives 6 months to submit an offer.

Alternative approach would be take on the market / commercial areas. Would need a cohesive legal entity / structure to do this. Possible interest from Stokes Croft Land Trust, Bristol Pound, Bristol Community Housing Trust and Hamilton House.

Agreed that CAG should take the lead on any discussions with the developer and with planners.

Site Occupiers

The site occupiers (travellers) were served a Notice of Trespass in March. Hearing was adjourned until 8 May at 3pm at County Court.

A representative of the occupants stated that they had anticipated 6 months notice to leave the site. Trespass papers were put on the gate in March. The occupiers have their homes there and for a generation have been keeping people out of the dangerous site. The Council were apparently involved in early discussions about them being on the site as well as someone from Comer. Having the site occupied would help keep the Council off Comer’s back, following a number of deaths on the site.

Lori explained that CAG had pressed really hard for dialogue between travellers and Marc Pennick (although it was Comer who issued the Notice of Trespass). Marc eventually agreed but Comer instructed him not to take part. We now need a dialogue with the new owners of the site.

We need to take into account the needs of residents as does the local authority. Discussion about how to support the travellers e.g. through donations. Agreed that this should be as individuals, not as CAG.

Keeping the site occupied until the day the builders take possession will be much cheaper than getting early vacant possession and then paying for 24 hr security.

Noted that there is a pre-commencement condition requiring a “Procedure for the sensitive relocation of the existing occupants of the site” (page 53 of Committee Report). However, planners have now told other officers that the notice to seek possession was nothing to do with planning.

Agreed by all that if we can have amicable conversation then it will go the right way.

Other sites in the area:

Discussion about other empty buildings and development sites.

  • Putterills building – empty and unused
  • Magpie building. John Dalton paid £300k for the site. Planning application for Change of Use A3 café restaurant. Already started major refurb of existing building – spending £400k. Building is in two parts: two storey fronting Picton St and single storery fronting Ashley Road. Current use is retail.

Inter-relationship of sites and transport policy. Metro mayor will be responsible for major routes inc. A38. Need to keep an eye on wider policies, agendas and proposals.

Compulsory Purchase

Is there a possibility of losing the money for CPO? Julian stated that funds were granted to BCC by HCA specifically for compulsory purchase of Westmorland House so cannot be put to other uses. Lori stated that if the development does not go ahead as anticipated we need to keep CPO as an option.

Proposal that until there is signficiant progress with the development the CPO process must continue. As this was felt to be a crtically important issue there was a vote on whether to agree the statement. Unanimously agreed.

Discussion about whether BCC could pursue CPO without a preferred developer. Thought that they could not but it may be possible for HCA. [Subsequent research found that “It may sometimes be appropriate for the Homes and Communities Agency to compulsorily acquire land which is in need of development or regeneration even though there are no specific detailed development proposals in place” Source: Guidance on Compulsory Purchase Process (pdf) page 47, para 93]

Could one of the PRS RSLs that were interested still be involved? CBRE have been working for Fifth Capital to find development partners. Presumably they will have been linking developers together as this would share the risk – it’s why people like joint venture.

Actions:

  1. Seek a meeting with the developer
  2. Work hard to get info from them into public domain
  3. Work with site residents to find ways to support them and for a dialogue for a planned way of moving
  4. See if HAs that have expressed an interest are still interested
  5. Seek expressions of interest in commercial space
  6. Investigate potential for communal ownership of parts
  7. Enter into constructive dialogue with planners to ensure that they and the developer work with CAG and hold to the conditions in the planning permission to work with the community
  8. Investigate HCA CPO rules re schemes and preferred developer
  9. Court case on 8th May at 3pm

Community Meeting, Monday 24 April

Update: Venue confirmed as the King’s Centre, 16-18 King Square

We’ll be holding a Carriageworks Action Group Community Meeting on Monday 24 April from 6pm.  The venue has still to be confirmed but will be posted as soon as we know.

By the time we meet we may have more news from Fifth Capital on the actual development proposals for the site. We may also know more about the timescales that everyone is working to and how this will affect the travellers.  But if there’s no progress on anything we may have to turn our minds to what else we can do. Either way, we will hopefully be able to confirm the agenda closer to the 24th.

Click to read notes of the last meeting.

Alternative developer? Key points from the Community Meeting

There is growing concern about the lack of visible action towards development on the Carriageworks site.  This has rekindled some of the dialogue within the community about the current plans for development.  If these seem too difficult to deliver, what about thinking about alternative approaches and about the actions we can take to move the development forward.

The community want to see the site developed in line with the CAG Community Vision, through whatever means/whichever developer.  There is concern that even though the Section 106 agreement was signed in June, the site is still owned by the Comers through their company Opecprime.

ACTION:  CAG, through the Liaison Group, was delegated to seek a meeting with the Comers to discuss unsticking the process.

There was a discussion about the price of the site.  If the site has to be Compulsorily Purchased (CPO), then the price would be market value.  If, however, a different arrangement not involving the Council was reached with the current owners, then there could be more latitude in the agreement of the price.

Given the seeming stalemate, the meeting would like to see the CPO process started up again.  This has to be led by Bristol City Council.  It is complicated by the fact that Fifth Capital have Planning Permission but ownership is still with Opecprime.

The meeting talked about setting up a development consortium to deliver community led plans for the site.  If this is the case and a consortium developed viable plans for the site, then it could become the “preferred developer”.  We have been advised that this would avoid the need for a full procurement process.  It would be up to the consortium to approach the Council to seek assistance to progress this idea.

ACTION:  BCC was asked to look into restarting the CPO process.

For a CPO to be successful, there needs to be a viable scheme.  Community members expressed considerable enthusiasm for the idea of a consortium to work up a scheme that would meet the Community Vision for the site, and be viable in terms of a CPO.   It was suggested a masterplan could form the basis for development being brought forward in phases and developed or sold to different developers.  Some people at the meeting wanted to be involved.  There was a discussion about what this means.  If we want this to move forward, consortium members have to be able to contribute real resources towards the design, finance and delivery of each part of the site.  Prue collected the names of people who are interested in setting up a development consortium.

The meeting agreed that we don’t need a “development brief” because this is captured by the Community Vision and the subsequent consultations about scheme design – carried out by Knightstone and Fifth Capital.  There has been a lot of discussion about what people want on the site.  What people want now is action!

ACTION:  CAG will convene a meeting in January for people who can contribute to a development consortium.

ACTION:  Can/will BCC Planning waive the fees for a planning application from a community led consortium?  This will be explored.

Carriageworks building:   There is a lot of concern about the continuing deterioration of the Carriageworks building.  Can notices be served on the owners for urgent works? The problem with this is that if the owner does not carry ouit the repair notice works Bristol City Council would have to do the works and pay the upfront costs, and then try to reclaim them.  While there is a pot of money for the Carriageworks, this is being held in case of the need for a site acquisition.

ACTION: CAG Liaison Group to explore with BCC how this money might be used (in the most creative ways!) so that we get the outcome we want – development of the site in line with the Community Vision – and protect the fabric of the Carriageworks building through this process.

ACTION:  If a development consortium is set up, this should explore grant funding for the historic building

ACTION:  BCC to establish the “curtilage” of the Listed Building.  This is the area around the listed building (Carriageworks) that is covered by the Listing.  It’s a technical issue but an important one that could help to bring in more resource for the development of the site.

Risks of the site:  Developing the site is complicated and there are many risks, including unknown ones.  For example…  Is the land contaminated? Are there issues about the water table? How unstable, or downright dangerous, are the buildings? And what does all this mean for the costs of redevelopment? There’s not an action arising from this point, but it’s worth bearing in mind.  Not knowing the risks makes it very difficult to establish the costs of redevelopment.  This is something that has to be addressed in drawing up alternative plans.

Ideas and moving forward:  At the end of the meeting, Lori (Chair) asked everyone to send their thoughts, ideas, intentions etc. to CAG via the comments section below (or click the speech bubble top right) or email  ideas@carriageworks.org.uk or Facebook

We look forward to hearing from you.

Lori Streich, Chair, Carriageworks Action Group