Time to act for the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House

It’s now a year since Fifth Capital were given planning permission for the Carriageworks. At that time we all hoped and expected that they would get on site quickly and by now be making significant progress on building their scheme.

In the event the paperwork for the planning permission (namely the S.106 agreement) wasn’t completed until July. We then hoped that the purchase of the site would be quickly completed, but that still hasn’t happened. Furthermore Fifth Capital have not yet found an end purchaser, despite discussions with a number of Housing Associations, and a contractor isn’t yet confirmed.

Fifth Capital tell us that the reasons for the delays are outside their control, which is probably true, but they are understandably causing frustration in the community.  ‘When will it start?’ and ‘Will it ever start?’ are the two big questions.

To discuss this, and get a sense of what people want to happen, we will hold the next community meeting on Wednesday 16 November (venue to be confirmed, time probably 6pm).  We will invite Marc Pennick, Director of Fifth Capital, to attend along with the City Council.

In advance of the meeting we would like to have as many questions as possible for Marc Pennick, the Council and anyone else you can think of. We hope that they will come to the meeting with answers but it is only fair (!) to give them a bit of time to come up with answers. If they’re unable to attend we’ll ask that they send answers to your questions in time for the meeting.

Please send us the questions you want answered. Use the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of this page or email us at ideas@carriageworks.org.uk. You can also send questions via Facebook and Twitter. We’ll collate all the questions on our website and the answers once we have them.

Prue, Lori and the Liaison Group

Notes from 2 June Community Meeting

Over 30 people came to the Carriageworks Community meeting on 2 June to hear the latest about proposals for redevelopment of the site.  Unfortunately, due to injuries recently incurred, we couldn’t be joined by Marc Pennick from developer Fifth Capital although he had provided updates to members of the CAG Liaison Group.

Planning permission

Last October the City Council’s Planning Committee resolved to give planning permission to Fifth Capital.  However, this isn’t formalised until the S.106 Agreement is completed (the agreement sets out undertakings by the developer to provide affordable housing and make payments towards various off-site works e.g. road improvements). Because it’s a binding agreement it has to be signed by the Council, the developer (Fifth Capital) and the landowner (Opec Prime / Comer Homes). The wording is all agreed but the landowner has yet to add his signature.

Ownership

Fifth Capital have a legal option to buy the site from Comer Homes. The option is triggered by the grant of planning permission which itself is dependent upon the signing of the S.106 Agreement. We understand that Fifth Capital will actually buy part of the holding company (Opec Prime), rather than take a conveyance of the site.

Timescale

Many people have said that progress on the scheme is very slow but this is often the case, especially with complex developments.  Members of the Liaison Group are keeping an eye on the situation and maintaining a dialogue with Marc about it.

Once planning permission is granted and Fifth Capital has taken ownership they will be able to progress with meeting all the pre-commencement conditions set out by the Council.  Once everything is submitted the Council has up to 8 weeks to give approval, but would hope to do it quicker. CAG will be consulted on some of the conditions but we hope that we will have been able to make constructive contributions well in advance of them being submitted to the Council.

Once the pre-commencement conditions are all met Marc will be able to start demolition.  He has told us that he hopes this to be in November this year.

Westmoreland House will be demolished and the Carriageworks stabilised so that further survey work can be undertaken. That will then enable detailed plans for the Carriageworks to be worked up which will then enable the main construction contract to be awarded.

Housing

Marc is holding discussions with a number of Housing Associations for them to buy the freehold of the completed development. One of them is considering using all but the 10 affordable units for private rented accommodation.  So every unit would be rented out by the Housing Association at market rents (not social rents and not affordable rents). This would mean that no units would be available for sale and that in turn would mean that there would be no buy-to-let landlords. This would be more in line with the European model where many people rent from institutional landlords with high quality terms and conditions. Elsewhere in Bristol there is much interest in developing an ethical private rented sector to replace sometimes expensive and poor quality buy-to-let landlords. Carriageworks could be trail blazer.

if the scheme does become private rented housing there are some questions about the 3 x 4 bed houses.  They would probably not let to families in the area given their level of rent.  Some proposals to reduce them to three bed (of which there are five currently proposed) or even to convert all the housing units to apartments.

Ground Floor

Back in December Spaceworks was being considered as the owner of the ground floor. However, their financial offer was a long way from what Marc could accept so that is no longer the proposal.  Instead Marc is thinking about taking a long lease-back of the ground floor from the Housing Association. He would then create a management company to take care of letting the commercial and community units while a specialist market operator would run the market. He is open to ways of the community being involved in how the ground floor is managed. Marc has visited the ground floor of Jamaica St studios and was very inspired by Jacknife and the PRSC pottery and would like to see similar businesses in the Carriageworks. There was much enthusiasm in the meeting to this approach – Marc seems to be speaking our language.

Discussion and Questions

How will the impact of the demolition be controlled? Answer: Via the construction management plan which has to be approved before any works begin. This will deal with site access, lorry movements, scaffolding, noise, dust etc etc.

What’s happening with the Travellers? Why the need to move out if there won’t be any work on site for some months. Travellers have provide good security for nine years. Communication with Marc has not been good. Note that children have been getting through a hole to play on the site. Travellers have prevented them and covered the hole but as future on the site is uncertain they can only do so much.

Discussion about what happens if Comer does not sign the S.106 Agreement.  Various options explored. Agreed that these need to be pushed via BCC if there is no progress by September.

Someone who was attending his first CAG meeting asked what CAG is trying to achieve. Answer was for the site to be developed in line with the Vision via the Fifth Capital proposals. Aside from a small number of abstentions everyone else agreed that this was the right approach.

Would right-to-buy apply to a Housing Association’s private rented units?  Answer: No.  As they are commercial the new law would not apply.

Comments: a) The Housing Act is still going through Parliament so there remains uncertainty about what Housing Associations will have to do or not do. b) Shared ownership does not always work for the Housing Association. Affordable and social housing are not synonymous. Affordable can be up to 80% of market value. c) If Bristol sets up its own Housing Company (as is proposed), it could buy the scheme (although noted that timescale for that may make it unrealistic).

Would private rented units be accessible to people on benefits? Answer: One of the Housing Associations that Marc is talking with has said that they would need evidence of income from employment for all tenants.  However, if a tenant is made redundant and then claims benefits they will have no problem with that so long as the rent continues to be paid.

Discussion about whether the scheme is addressing the real social need in Bristol. Suggestion that the 2011 consultation is out of date and that the Vision needs to be rethought with more social housing required. Other people pointed out that Carriageworks is doing better than many other developments in Bristol. Rethinking the plan would take years to resolve. If you keep rethinking it you never make progress.

Suggestion that losing the 4 bed houses should only be supported in return for more affordable units.

Suggestion that changing house sizes will require change to the planning permission. New housing focused agenda within BCC will be more likely to object.

Ground floor should create a magnet for the applied arts (reflecting Godwin’s work). This should be a feature of the cultural strategy that has to be written. Would be good to discuss with Marc at an early stage.

The groups that people signed up to in December have not yet had the chance to start – we really need Marc to complete the purchase of the site before any progress can be made.

Meeting ended at 8:40pm.  Agreed that the community now knows way more about planning and property development than we ever thought likely!

[Please note that these notes aim to give a logical account of discussions rather than an accurate chronological record]

Council must ensure community stays involved

UPDATE: The deadline for sending statements has now passed. Planning Committee meets to make decision at 6pm on Wed 14th at Watershed.

We want to make sure that the Council gives its weight to ensuring that the community stays involved in the Carriageworks development as the detailed proposals are drawn up. Fifth Capital have assured us that we will be closely involved but we want to see something in writing and attached to the planning permission. At the moment the Council has singularly failed to do this.

We are asking you to send a statement to the Council’s Planning Committee urging them to write CAG’s involvement into future discussions. For our part, we will make the process as open as possible and involve other people with the expertise or knowledge to contribute and ensure that the Community Vision is delivered.

You can use this form to send an email to the Planning Committee on 14 October. You must send the email by noon on Tuesday 13 October. You don’t have to attend the Committee to read it out, but you can if you want (and it will add to the impact).

Paste the following text into the comment box below or, even better, write your own thoughts (which will increase the impact).  Make sure you add your name and address or postcode so that the Council knows you are a real person!

Dear Councillors

The Carriageworks and Westmoreland House are incredibly important to our community. For the last four years we have worked hard to express and then secure our Vision for the site's long term future. 

If you give planning permission today there will still be many details to agree. I believe that it is essential that, via the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG), we as a community have a place in the discussions that will follow. I also believe that this will result in an improved development that will benefit everyone involved.

As drafted, the planning permission makes no provision for the involvement of the community and CAG in any future discussions or decision making. Fifth Capital have said that they have no problem with this, but we want to see it in writing and backed up by the Council.

When you make your decision, please ensure that future community involvement via CAG is sufficiently written into and protected in the legal documentation.

Yours sincerely

[INSERT YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS / POSTCODE]


UPDATE: The deadline for sending statements has now passed so the form has been disabled. Planning Committee meets to make decision at 6pm on Wed 14th at Watershed.

The Carriageworks Action Group will also receive a copy of your email. We will add your email address to our mailing list (we send out about six email updates per year) but will not share your address with anyone else. If you do not wish to be added to our mailing list please send a message to info@carriageworks.org.uk

CAG formal response to Fifth Capital amendments

Following consultation on our draft response, CAG has now submitted to the Planners its formal response to the Fifth Capital amendments (120Kb PDF).

The main changes since the draft are the inclusion of quotes from the comments we received (for which many thanks to everyone who took time to write), and additional sentences calling on the Council to work towards increasing the amount of social and affordable housing and ensuring that the scheme is delivered in line with community expectation.


 

Response to proposals for redevelopment of Carriageworks and Westmoreland House as amended September 2015

Context

This response represents the conclusion of five months’ discussions between the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG) Liaison Group, members of the local community, the planners and Fifth Capital. The response was issued as a draft for comment via the Carriageworks website from 23rd to 28th September.

Summary

Our primary reference point is the Community Vision (2012). This states that CAG is “keen to work with any organisation that embraces our vision for the future”.

With the changes proposed, overall CAG now supports the application, albeit with some reservations as set out below.

The five months since the April Planning Committee have seen a much improved working relationship between CAG and Fifth Capital. We believe that this has facilitated significant improvements to the development proposals. To ensure that these gains are consolidated and progressed we would ask that the developer and the planners continue to involve CAG in discussions as the planning permission is finalised and the detailed development proposals are worked up.

Consultation on the Draft

After discussion by the CAG Liaison Group, a draft of this response was posted on the CAG website on 22 September. It was also sent to the CAG mailing list (630 subscribers) and linked via Facebook and Twitter. A press release triggered coverage in the Bristol Post and Bristol 247. Eight comments on the draft were received via email (most of which were transferred to the website) and eight via the website. Further comments were made on Twitter and Facebook.

Most of the comments received were supportive of the draft response and of the role of CAG in improving the proposals.

  • “You have brought about real improvements and clarifications”
  • “Thanks for all the work to get this far with the redevelopment”
  • “(I) congratulate those that have dedicated so much of their time to diplomatically represent their community in the plans for this iconic building”
  • “You have clearly worked very hard, so well done”
  • “It seems like there is a will on all sides to engage in conversation for the benefit of the area, which is rare”
  • “Huge appreciation for continued community action on our behalf”
  • “Thank you for all your hard work and persistence in seeing this through to this stage with so many significant improvements from the original scheme”
  • “fantastic work on behalf of the community. If not for orgs like yours we’d all be in the trenches”
  • “Huge appreciation for continued community action on our behalf”.

There were two main areas of concern. The first was the level of social and affordable housing:

  • “10 affordable units, and over 100 not affordable units. Is that what the area needs?”
  • “I still have major concern about the low level of affordable housing when the whole of Bristol is sorely in need of more of such housing”
  • “Without social housing central to the plan it’s just another white elephant compounding Bristol’s problems”
  • “another affordable housing sell out”
  • “they have entirely sidestepped issues of housing density, quality and affordability.”

There was additional concern that private landlords will buy into the development and push up rents: “it is clearly in the best interests of the community in the long-term if the accommodation is in some way protected from becoming buy-to-let”.

The second area of concern related to the agreement between the planners and the developer:

  • “hope you can get everyone to “sign on the dotted line” asap”
  • “from very bitter experience – things can change the moment any permission is given. Marc Pennick may have been really positive but he (or his Board) may still flog it off to someone else, after which much of what you have fought for could be up for grabs again.”
  • “the concern is that this conversation gets lost due to a lack of legal obligation on behalf of Fifth Capital as well as future landlords further down the line. To this end I hope the council continues to represent the interests of CAG, particularly with regard to awarding the freehold to the housing association and detailing the management plan to provide significant control to a suitable management company. Good luck!”
  • “Can binding agreements be made, when the developer can sell on the site and permissions?”
  • “(I) am hesitantly confident that these new proposals, IF adhered to and respected by both the developers and the council show a major improvement on the original plans”
  • “hope we can write in legally binding guarantees that will prevent back-sliding in the long term.”

Other comments related to dust and treatment of asbestos during demolition, concern that the target of 75% independent traders may not be achieved,

A poll on the CAG website attracted 25 votes. 17 votes gave full support for the draft and a further 4 gave partial support.

Continue reading

Make sure the Planners hear you….

Whether you’re for or against the revised proposals from Fifth Capital, it’s important the Planners hear your voice.  Here’s what to do.

1. Have a look at the revised proposals.

a) Download and have a look at the revised floor plans (5Mb PDF) and elevations (30Mb PDF)

b) Read Fifth Capital’s summary of the proposals (the Design and Access Statement) (10Mb PDF)

d) Have a look at what CAG thinks

d) You can also see the full proposals on the planning website (persevere – it takes ages to load!)

2. Write your comments in the Council’s planning website comments box.  (Write them in direct but note that the page will time-out. So if you’re writing lots or will get interrupted it’s best to write them in a text editor and then paste when you’re ready)

Technically (i.e. the planners tell us) the only issues for consideration are the ten points raised at the April committee meeting.  Everything else is taken as agreed. However, don’t let that get in the way of a good argument!

Deadline: For Planners to take your comments into account in their final report they need to hear from you by Tuesday 29 September.

3. Submit a statement direct to the Planning Committee (A) – the agenda is likely to be published two weeks before the meeting i.e. 1 October. Petitions and statements must be received by noon on the working day prior to the meeting. So your submission must be received at the latest by 12.00 noon on Tuesday 13th October. Send to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk

4. Come to the Planning Committee (A) – 6pm on Wed 14th October at the Watershed.  The best way to make sure the Planning Committee know what you think is to read your statement out to them.

5. Then sit and listen (quietly – eh hm) to the Committee’s deliberations.

6. Retire gracefully to celebrate / commiserate / disect depending upon what you said in 2, 3 and 4 above.

If you have questions or need help, just let us know.  Write in the comments box below or email us at ideas@carriageworks.org.uk

Press Release: Working with community improves Carriageworks proposals

Wednesday 23rd September 2015
Immediate release

Five months ago city planners faced a barrage of opposition to plans to redevelop the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House. Listening to local people, the planners told the developer to work with the community to improve their scheme. After a process which the local action group describes as positive and lively, the ideas have been amended. But will it win over local people?

The Carriageworks and Westmoreland House have been derelict since the 1980s. Various attempts by the owners to redevelop it had failed so in 2012 the local community, lead by the Carriageworks Action Group, published its own Community Vision. The City Council offered to use compulsory purchase powers to ensure that redevelopment took place and Knightstone Housing Association were identified as the preferred developer. Then, a year ago, Fifth Capital London emerged from nowhere with rights to purchase the site. But their plans were met with scorn. 1,400 objections, a march on the planning committee and many robust criticisms resulted in the developers being told to think again.

For the last five months the Carriageworks Action Group has been working with Fifth Capital and the planners to try and improve the redevelopment proposals. With a few reservations they now think the scheme is worthy of their support. But before sending their final conclusions to the planners they want to ask local people what they think.

Lori Streich, Chair of CAG, said:

“This has been a long process. Communities are rarely given the opportunity to be this closely involved in planning a major redevelopment. The council’s committee took a bold step in insisting that Fifth Capital work with us. Equally Marc Pennick, MD of Fifth Capital, deserves credit for changing his approach and engaging in a constructive and collaborative way.
We haven’t got everything we wanted, especially social housing, but on many other issues he has listened and adapted the scheme. In particular the ground floor access and the business space are now much much better. With proper management it should make a positive contribution to the local area. The concerns of neighbours have also resulted in design changes which has been important in winning our support.
Now we need to know if local people agree that the scheme should go ahead”.

CAG have published a draft response on their website and are asking for comments and indications of support or opposition by 28 September. With changes made it will then be submitted to the planners in time for the planning committee on 14 October.

Contact

Lori Streich
Chair of Carriageworks Action Group
Available for phone interviews on Thursday 24 September.
07813 823175
admin@carriageworks.org.uk

Notes for Editors

1. The Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site has been vacant and derelict since 1982. It has been owned by Comer Homes since 1988.
2. The Carriageworks Action Group was formed in 2011 to consult on and prepare a Community Vision for the site. The Vision was approved by CAG and the City Council in 2012.
3. In 2013 Knightstone Housing Association was identified as the City Council’s preferred developer of the site. The City Council would use compulsory purchase powers to ensure that the site was redeveloped.
4. Fifth Capital purchased an option to buy the site in 2014 subject to them first obtaining planning permission.
5. The Planning Committee will consider the changes to the scheme at its meeting on 14 October 2015.
6. If Fifth Capital gain planning permission they will aim to start construction in the Spring 2016. Works will take up to two years to complete.
7. Further information including the latest designs at http://carriagworks.org.uk

CAG’s draft response to Fifth Capital’s plans

Fifth Capital’s revised planning application will most likely be going to the Planning Committee on 14 October.  The CAG Liaison Group and the community have been discussing changes to the scheme since April so now is the time for us to send our conclusions to the Planners.

Back in April we were totally opposed to the proposals, along with 1400 other people who registered their objections. But things have moved on and there have been significant changes to the scheme. So should we now give it our support?

Following on from the last Community Meeting we have drafted the response below. We want to know what you think – do you agree with the draft or should it be changed?

Here’s what to do:

  1. Read the response – either below or download the draft response (PDF)
  2. Write any comments in the comment box below, or send them to ideas@carriageworks.org.uk  If you disagree with the draft it would be especially useful to know why. Please send comments by 28 September.
  3. Select one of the options from the multiple choice in the box at the bottom of the page
  4. Write your own response to the Planners.  Go to the Council’s planning website and submit your comments.  Note that if you want to write lots it’s better to write in a text editor and paste them in as the webpage can time-out if you take too long. Closing date for the Planners is 2 October.

Carriageworks Action Group

Planning application reference 14/05930/F

DRAFT Response to proposals for redevelopment of Carriageworks and Westmoreland House as amended September 2015

Context

This response represents the conclusion of five months’ discussions between the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG) Liaison Group, members of the local community, the planners and Fifth Capital. The response was issued as a draft for comment via the Carriageworks website from 23rd to 28th September. [Comments received may lead to changes in the draft prior to submission to the planners.]

Summary

Our primary reference point is the Community Vision (2012). This states that CAG is “keen to work with any organisation that embraces our vision for the future”.

With the changes proposed, overall CAG now supports the application, albeit with some reservations as set out below.

The five months since the April Planning Committee have seen a much improved working relationship between CAG and Fifth Capital. We believe that this has facilitated significant improvements to the development proposals. To ensure that these gains are consolidated and progressed we would ask that the developer and the planners continue to involve CAG in discussions as the planning permission is finalised and the detailed development proposals are worked up.

Response

The April Planning Committee identified ten points which it wanted addressed by Fifth Capital. We detail our response to each of these below. We also address other issues which we feel are of great importance even though these were not specifically identified by the Planning Committee’s decision.

Engagement with community groups including the Carriageworks Action Group.

Since the April Planning Committee the CAG Liaison Group has welcomed Fifth Capital’s positive approach to engaging with, listening to and addressing the concerns of the local community. In this time, members of the Liaison Group have had a number of productive meetings with Fifth Capital. The developer has also met with other local parties, including the owner of 108 Stokes Croft, and attended three community meetings where they have provided briefings and engaged in lively debate about a wide range of issues relating to the proposals.

The quantity and position of visitors cycle parking

The total number of cycle spaces has increased from 196 to 216. Of these, 32 (up from 12) are provided for the use of visitors in the main square. This is an improvement.

We would like to point out that there are already problems finding suitable cycle parking in the surrounding area. This could justify contributions to additional off-site provision.

Relationship with 108 Stokes Croft

The issues raised in April related to the boxing-in of the rear of 108 by the new development. This was of particular concern to the owner and occupiers of the property. As the owner is an architect and very capable of representing their own interests the Liaison Group has not sought to get overly involved in the discussions. We understand from the owner that his concerns have been addressed by the design changes.

We also understand that the five wheelie bins currently stored to the rear of 108 will now be stored in the new development. This is an improvement.

The scale of development on Ashley Road and the lack of set back

The scale has been reduced and the building set back from the pavement. It is now much more in keeping with the Conservation Area and the recommendations of the Planning Inspector in 2010.

Contributions towards the improvement of the Ashley Road/A38 Junction.

We understand that there is a financial offer but we have not been involved in any discussions about how it will be used. We would like CAG to be involved in discussions as the proposals are progressed.

Additional information on the use of the ground floor units including revisions to relevant planning conditions, in particular Condition 27.

We have had extensive discussions with Fifth Capital about the future management of the site. Since the proposed design changes in June we have sought the input of companies that are experienced in the management of markets and small business units and have shared their comments with Fifth Capital. These are reflected in the ‘strategy for delivering active, vital and viable mixed uses’.

We understand the essence of the proposals to be:

  • Continuing improvement, investment and consultation through providing …. flexible non- residential accommodation that will be activated by having a variety of uses
  • The creation of a permeable through route (facilitating a vibrant culture)
  • An increase in non-residential space from 659 to 1010 sqm GIA along with increased active frontages in the public square
  • An increase in the size of the public square from 745 to 1050 sqm
  • Design improvements as detailed in the Delivery Management Plan
  • Active management by the final appointed Management Company
  • Close working with the local community and the Council, in the spirit of the Community Vision
  • Development and evolution of a unique environment in the spirit of Stokes Croft
  • A cohesive approach that connects communities and maximises ground floor uses
  • A commitment to continuing improvement and investment.

We welcome this new approach. In particular: we welcome the increase in space for commercial and community spaces, the market area providing a low barrier to entry for new businesses, the proposals for community and Council involvement in long term management and the essence of the Delivery Management Plan.

More recent discussions with operators of other facilities indicate that the proposed unit sizes are too big to attract the type of small independent businesses (typically 1-3 people) that typify non-retail occupiers in and around Stokes Croft. In addition, smaller units will be more likely to qualify for relief from business rates. We understand that units can be sub-divided but this should be written into the management plan.

The target should be 100% occupation by independent businesses (not 75%).

The document states that the management development plan will include details of how the management company will be established. We believe that this should be an organisation with a proven track record in managing similar and comparable sites and that ideally the management company should itself be some form of social enterprise. The organisation should either be based in Bristol or have a good knowledge of the city. The management company should foster and support start-up businesses, should be hands-on in its management style and should actively work towards achieving and maintaining the “buzzing, vibrant place …. that directly contribute(s) to the vitality and character of the local area” as envisaged by the Community Vision.

We understand that the need for a management plan will be included in the S.106 agreement between the developer and the planners. As many devils may lurk in the detail of this plan we believe that the creation of this plan needs close involvement of the community including CAG and representatives of local businesses.

On site renewables (only 5%) – explore the possibility of using other technologies.

This was not the subject of our discussions with Fifth Capital. We understand that the area of PVs is increased from 168 to 214sqm. We welcome this increase.

Additional information on the proposed gates, including consideration of their removal from the scheme.

We understand that there are no gates in the revised plans. Fifth Capital have introduced some significant changes to the through route. In particular they have provided a new access from Ashley Road opposite the top of Picton St, have removed buildings that obstruct sight lines to from the access entrance to the square, have increased the size of access routes. As a result they have effectively designed out the gates. We welcome these changes.

Consideration to a reduction on timescale for implementation of any permission including a revised condition 1.

Fifth Capital have told us that they will accept a two year period in which they have to start development. We welcome this change.

Affordable Housing – consider if the mix within the 8 units can be changed.

We understand that the number of affordable (shared ownership) units has increased from 8 to 10 (5 x 1 bed and 5 x 2 bed), or 10% of the total. All the units are now located in Block D (adjacent to the rear of the Carriageworks and backing onto Croft Dale) as opposed to in the Carriageworks.

We are disappointed that the proposals have not provided any significant increase in the amount of affordable housing and do not provide any social housing. 10% is still far below the Council’s own policy of 30%.

We note that there has been a change in the number of smaller units for market rent and sale and that these will have lower values and therefore be affordable to more people. However, they will only meet the needs of some people and do not address the need for affordable or social rented family units.

We also note that the freehold of the site may be sold to a housing association which, we hope, will be able to increase the number of social and affordable units. We also hope that the involvement of the housing association will introduce a high quality of residential management and avoid large numbers of properties becoming buy-to-let units. We are due to meet the housing association shortly after the Planning Committee.

Other issues

Visual appearance

The developer has gone to great lengths to have their architects address local concerns. However, we still believe that the design misses the opportunity to create an inspirational development of which we will be proud. Much of the design is formulaic with little reference to local materials or styles. This is a shame but we appreciate that it is too late for wholesale revisions to the design approach. Furthermore the developer has indicated that surface treatments and details can still be discussed. We look forward to seeing approaches that help us develop pride in the development.

Design

Costas Georghiou submitted an eloquent objection to the original scheme detailing a number of design issues. We believe that some of these have been addressed, at least in part, but hope, as with the visual appearance, that further improvements can be made as the detailed design progresses.

Hepburn Road

Fifth Capital have engaged with residents of Hepburn Road in a positive manner; attending a meeting with residents in August, visiting residents houses and developing solutions to local concerns. This is very much welcomed and has helped us believe that they are genuinely listening to the community.

Local employment and apprenticeships

A development of this scale must deliver benefits to the local community in terms of training and jobs. Effective implementation of Condition 12 in the April committee report is vital.

Cultural plan and public art

Conditions 14 and 15 in Committee report of April 2015 state that a cultural programme and public art plan must be approved. These must reflect the local area and its culture. The local community must be closely involved in the development and delivery of these plans. They must not be imposed by distant consultants and officers.

We propose that the management company, as we detail above, be responsible for delivery of the cultural and arts plans. This will help ensure that the company is embedded in the local community and will also give a significant funding injection (from the S106 contribution) into the company and organisation and the community.

On-site travellers

The travellers living on the site have been involved in CAG since 2011. We understand that Fifth Capital have guaranteed them 6 months notice to find an alternative site. We also understand that it is the Council’s responsibility to help find sites for travellers. We ask the planners to ensure that their colleagues fulfil their commitments to the travellers and find move-on sites within 6 months.

The travellers have provided site security for many years. Given the safety issues on the site consideration will have to be given to ensuring ongoing security after the travellers vacate the site.

Will we get what we think we’ll get?

Fifth Capital have taken many steps to try to convince us that their proposals are worthy of our support. We acknowledge and thank them for their efforts. This working relationship must continue and we must also safeguard against unanticipated change.

The commitments recently made by Fifth Capital must be embedded in legally enforceable agreements. Furthermore, we have to be sure that circumstances do not result in Fifth Capital or a future purchaser changing the nature and character of the development so that it diverges from the Community Vision.

As an unincorporated community we are unable to enter into legally binding agreements with Fifth Capital or their successors in title that will ensure we get what we think we’ll get. For that we have to look to the City Council.

We request that:

  1. the planners ensure that CAG continue to be involved in negotiations surrounding the S.106 agreement and all other aspects of the development
  2. the planners ensure that Fifth Capital’s commitments, especially those regarding the long term management of the site, are thoroughly protected
  3. if any changes to the proposals are requested that the community is fully consulted and that the applicant for the changes be required to fully engage with CAG and the community in a manner similar to Fifth Capital since April.

Conclusion

We have detailed above our response to all the various issues. We also acknowledge the efforts made by Fifth Capital since April to engage with the local community. In this we feel that Fifth Capital have gone further than many other developers.

The Community Vision states:

“The Carriageworks development will make a positive contribution to the economy, culture and environment of Stokes Croft and surrounding area. It will be a mixed use development that is home to many activities, businesses and people. It will be a buzzing, vibrant place for people from the local communities and from further afield. We want to see the dereliction of this site addressed as a priority and are keen to work with any organisation that embraces our vision for the future.”

Under ‘Delivery’ it states:

“We are looking for a developer who will go the extra mile to deliver a scheme of which we can be proud. We are determined to find the best developer for the job who will ensure that we are continually involved in the development process and who will champion our Vision. It is accepted that there will need to be some level of flexibility in the choice of developer.”

While we still hold reservations about the proposals we have to have regard to the original vision. In particular we want to see the dereliction addressed and we have to be flexible. We believe that on balance the scheme should now be given planning permission.

Carriageworks Action Group

September 2015


Now tell us what you think of the draft above.  If you disagree with it please tell us why in the comments box below.

Thank you for your time and thoughts 🙂