Twenty people came to the Carriageworks community meeting at Hamilton House on 16 May.
It was the first meeting since November but Lori Streich, chair of CAG, said that things had been continuing behind the scenes. Key points are:
- The site has been cleared. Took longer and more complicated than PG were expecting.
- There has been a delay identifying the contractor but we understand that one is now being appointed. Once we find out who it is we will put on our website.
- Construction is due to start in the autumn.
- Archaeologists are currently on site digging trenches.
PG have submitted three relatively non-controversial minor amendments to the planning permission and affecting blocks B, C and D (full details on our website).
Dominic Taylor (owner of neighbouring Tucketts Building and architect) said he felt that PG were pushing the non-material amendments to breaking point. Removing a roof terrace (from Block D) is not non-material and should be dealt with through the normal planning process. PG’s piecemeal approach meant that the overall picture is obscured and everything we have secured could be slowly chipped away. CAG should keep a watchful eye on all changes. Cllr Mike Davies said if the planning officer decides that a proposal is not a non-material amendment they will advise the applicant to put in a different type of amendment.
Block A (the largest block) has been the subject of discussions and will likely see changes to the current planning permission. The proposals were first revealed in November 2018 but but not met with great love. PG had provided 3D renderings of the proposals for the meeting and these were circulated. Lori clarified that, while the email from Jenny Gee said that ‘the preferred option was Option B’, this was only on the basis of a choice between the two disappointing options. CAG is eager to hear what everyone else thinks. Discussion followed about the designs. Points included:
- The existing planning permission has two buildings named A1 and A2. Block A1 (which fronts Ashley Rd) is four stories high while Block A2 (which is in the middle of the site) is six stories high. Each block has its own stair and lift shaft although the main spinal corridor links the two together. The proposed changes create a single block (Block A) with a shared stair and lift shaft and increase the height of Block A1 to six stories.
- No way that adding two storeys on a block is a non-material amendment.
- We have been provided with 3D renderings of the scheme but the absence of proper floor plans and elevations make it impossible to fully understand what is proposed.
- In particular it is very unclear how the corner to the lane accessing the market square will work. The existing planning permission had a lot of attention put into this. Now it is very vague. It does not look like a commercial entrance, instead it looks like a back alley to more flats.
- The shop fronts do not look like shop fronts. A risk that the plan is to convert them to residential after being unlet for a year.
- The façade needs more depth so that the existing shops roll round onto Ashley Road.
- The white lines are meant to be bathstone. This is not a design reference – it’s just chucking in some different materials. This is inappropriate.
- The current facade is quite articulated and honest. The proposed change is not.
- The proposed building is higher than Tucketts. This goes against the Planning Inspector’s report.
- There should be a step down from Tucketts to the new building to the Salvation Army. The amendments lose this.
- The proposed changes increase shadowing in the area and reduce natural light to neighbouring buildings. The existing planning permission had a setback of the top floors to reduce the impact on light – that setback is now being removed.
- What evidence is there that the additional space actually help viability?
- Feels like they’re trying to strip out the character, driven by finances and nothing else.
- The pavement levels appear to be inaccurate.
- Colouring of the sky and materials in the graphics is adjusted to try to make the upper floors less intrusive.
- Very bland for a gateway site.
- Too modern in an old space.
- A pastiche of modern architecture.
- The archway has been removed. (Comment that this was at the request of the emergency services who might need to access the site, but apparently in the permissioned scheme the arch was designed to swing out of the way).
Lori sought an overall opinion of people in the room. The consensus was that that changes should not go ahead as proposed.
It was agreed that there should be another meeting once the application has been submitted to the planners. This will need full drawings on display. It was suggested that we should have neutral architects on hand who can help articulate and explain people’s instinctive objections. UPDATE: The application has now been registered – see https://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/centralDistribution.do?caseType=Application&keyVal=PRLISBDNHHU00
Finding the right time to meet will be difficult but CAG will start arranging as soon as the application has been registered by the planners.
Lori made the point that when considering these changes we need to remember the bigger picture. Our aim, from the vision, is to get the site redeveloped and to work with any developer that shares our vision.
Stokes Croft Community Association
Leighton de Burca from the new Stokes Croft Neighbourhood Association introduced emerging ideas.
Businesses and non-residents with a stake on an area etc are excluded from having a say in how a neighbourhood is planned. Other areas of the city have Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP). This is a binding document on planners that can include shopfront design as, for example, at Old Market.
At the Stokes Croft Community Assoc meeting it was agreed there should be a Neighbourhood Plan for the area. The Draft Local Plan identifies sites for housing in the area. There will be a lot of change.
Leighton is employed with funding from Portman Brown and others who have an interest in the area e.g. nightclubs. Concern is residential uses arriving next to nightlife users. His job is to bring people together. Needs 21 people who live, work and socialise in the area and represent a diverse mix to work on a board together – has 10 so far.
Lori explained that a Cultural Plan for the Carriageworks site is a planning condition along with public art and management plan. The intention is to address any concerns that commercial units will not be let or that the ground floor will just not work for any number of reasons.
In early 2018 PG appointed Willis Newson, art consultants, who have been working on the cultural plan and public art plan. From what we have seen however, they are producing an arts plan and not a cultural plan.
Cultural plans, in the context of developments like Carriageworks, are not defined. But we know that the site has a natural connection from Picton St, an exit onto Stokes Croft, double frontage shop units, a market, a load of small secondary frontage units at the back that lends themselves to other sorts of stuff. The Willis Newson proposals make no mention of the type of function that will go into the units, or of how people will walk through, of the entrance, of how the market might work etc. We believe that the cultural plan needs to take a wider view than just the arts and that ultimately it will add value to the development. PG however have not been willing to enter into discussions about this wider view.
CAG has drafted an outline of what it believes the cultural plan should be – this was circulated. Discussion points included:
- Units need to contribute to daytime and twilight business community rather than night-time community
- We need services that enable residents of all ages and types to live in the area without having to resort to cars (although without ending up with another Tesco)
- Workshop units that keep the rents down so you get interesting uses
- Need to consider business rates (which are high in Stokes Croft) – make sure units are below the threshold to get rates relief
- There is a conflict between turning the market area into a destination for people from all over the city and making it something of use to local residents. Being a destination has consequences for residents. The cultural plan should recognise two strands that need to be reconciled
- The site should be something that people from St Pauls community will go into. The scheme cannot turn its back on St Pauls. Can’t ignore poverty. If you are building in an area with a rich cultural history you don’t just throw in expensive juice bars – it just services division. You have to make it as inclusive as possible
- If it works properly it becomes a very cool place to live
- There needs to be a sound assessment by the Council – the entrance way could turn the market place into a bass amplifier!
- Will the Council charge for the market – and how much?
- Management and design issues need to be part of the design and the cultural plan
- When people hear cultural plan they think art. They don’t think placemaking
- Need to consider CCTV – there are only two working cameras on Stokes Croft
- Gates are not an option, but security does need to be considered and is a critical management issues that has to be part of the plan. In Old Market there are gates that are not locked but are so heavy the dealers etc don’t bother to open them
- Need to look after the residents
- Need good lighting
- Design in the solutions to anticipated problems and design out the little anti-social behaviour corners.
CAG needs a mandate to go to the planners and say that the emerging cultural plan falls short. To comply with the planning conditions PG should properly engage about longer term issues.
Blue Mountain planning application has been submitted – large 250 bed student scheme. Please promote the consultation link https://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=PPUSGUDNH3S00
Request: If you are commenting on planning applications or other issues please copy them to the carriageworks.org.uk website as well so that we can see the whole picture.