BBC Radio interviews with CAG and Fifth Capital

Members of the public interviewed on Stokes Croft:

  • I remember time and again there have been conversations in the Council about doing it up. They didn’t come to fruition so you kind of forget about these things.
  • There’s so much need for a push from the community to do so many different things in the building; it’s a terrific opportunity. It’s something that Bristol could do to be proud of.
  • It’s good news.
  • Such a waste. Could be such a lovely building with people living in there.
  • Should be affordable housing.
  • It isn’t an eye-sore. It should be opened up to let people do what they want with it. That would be better.
  • It’s been a bit of an eyesore for a long time. With many people looking for housing in the area. Will benefit Stokes Croft and also tenants or people looking to purchase property in the area.

Laura Rawlings interview with Lori Streich and Cllr Rob Telford

2015-10-15 07:40

LR: Is this good news?

LS: Yes it is. Cautious optimism – it’s been an incredibly long road. A very significant step to actually achieving the end of dereliction of the site.

LR: When we spoke last time (in April) there had been concerns about making sure the development is in keeping with quirkiness of the area, the lack of affordable properties, that it wouldn’t be this gated closed off community. Has that been addressed now?

LS: That has been addressed. A lot has changed since April. CAG has been very actively engaged in a really good quite often difficult dialogue with the developer. To their credit FC have responded positively and creatively and made a lot of changes. Most significantly there’s a lot more commercial and open space. It is no longer gated; it’s been designed so that it would be pretty much impossible to turn it into a gated community.

LR: Lets bring in Rob. Are you happy with the plans?

RT: Yes we are largely. What’s been amazing with this process is that for the last year at least it started in a not consultative way. A lot of developers come to Bristol saying what they want to do and don’t start with a consultative frame of mind. But in this case the developer has gone away and thought he really wants this to happen and has actually worked with the community. That’s good to see. Would have saved a lot of time if they’d come with the right mindset from the start. It’s positive news that it’s happened eventually.

LR: You say it’s the developer who came with the right mindset. People are saying this morning, ‘why has it taken the Council 30 years to do something?’

RT: What happened is we had a compulsory purchase process to work with a registered social landlord but that fell through partly because Fifth Capital came in the frame. It’s been an eyesore for so long. It’s desperate for development.

LR: Is there anything we can learn?
RT: We have to learn the lessons of consultation from this. CAG has done amazing exemplary work to bring the Community Vision to fruition. It really has been amazingly exemplary work – the kind of stuff we should be looking at for all major developments in Bristol.

Laura Rawlings interview with Marc Pennick

2015-10-15 08:40

LR: Marc Pennick owns Fifth Capital London – the company that will own the site. It’s all changed sine we spoke to you last (in April). It’s all good news. What will people see?

MP: Last night was very enjoyable with the consent going through. It’s come a long way since April. With almost 1500 objections, last night we had 2 objections. We’ve turned it around over the last 6-7 months. The scheme that we’ll start in the next 6-7 months is a vibrant new square, apartments, independent businesses, pop-up shops, exactly what Stokes Croft needs.

LR: People were concerned that it would be exclusive, that it wouldn’t fit in the area, that it would be gated. Segregated yuppie flats was some of the concern and that there wouldn’t be enough affordable properties. But all of that has been ironed out?

MP: Through good work with CAG and good dialogue with wider community the gates have gone, the scheme’s been changed, we’ve got more commercial, more independent businesses going in there, affordable housing has gone up, and we’re looking forward to starting on the site. It’s been 27 years of pain for the area and we’re just looking forward to getting on.

LR: How do think it will it change the whole area?
MP: Stokes Croft has never really had much investment on the site itself and also in the wider area. We need to create a hub area that people not just in the area use but people in the wider city see it as a centre point. By creating this new market square that will be open at weekends with new independent businesses, it’s going to be a destination point.

LR: When will work start?

MP: We still have to sign S.106 agreement with the Council but that won’t take too long; there’s a lot of goodwill from Council members and the Carriageworks Action Group. One of the big points is that we’ve got some people who are on the site at the moment, some of them have been there for quite a while 5-6 years, and I’ve given my word that they’ve got 6 months until they have to vacate then we can get on

LR: How confident that you can deliver exactly what’s in the plans?

MP: These plans that we’ve proposed are not just going to be the plans but they will get better, we’re going to refine them, we’re going to work with CAG and the local community, we’re going to keep working on these plans and we’re going to keep making them better.

LR: If everything goes to plan when could it be finished?

MP: As soon as we start on site we should be done in 18-20 months.

LR: Wow – what a transformation that area’s going to see. Thank you.

Updates from Bristol Planning Committee

Click refresh for the latest from the Planning Committee.  We’ll update at the top of the page.

18:58  The room empties!

18:57 A vote. All for except for Ani S-T who votes against.

18:49 Cllr Martin Fodor. We’ve seen community objection, a developer pull rug out of CPO. There was a lot of pressure on us in April to refuse permission. Felt ambivelent that we were going to send it back for improvements as refusing would have resulted in appeal. It’s an important lesson. Our ambition needs to be as high as it can be. With strong messages we have achieved more. We might not have everything that all would like, but we have an agreement that is a partnership with the community. Agree on wording to “work with community” not just “consult with”. That will strengthen it and show what we really wanted.  Chair wants to deal with this issue. Sees consultation as something that we have a formula for (MF says he’s not sure we do). Would be worried about nebulous word like “work” – not sure we understand that in the Council (laughter). Would be dangerous to include words that could be misinterpreted. Don’t believe it worthy of change. MF: Some people in public look sceptical. Consultation can be done badly or well. Working in partnership requires a certain standard. Also wants to raise local employment – needs to be monitored. There is still disquiet that we’re not getting a % of affordable or social housing that is our aspiration – the viability test can be abused. We should thank officers, community and developer. To wrap up: wants to see “working in partnership” used as the wording. Cllr Helen Holland: we have the SCI – refer to that in the Condition? Cllr Ani S-T: The importance is that it is remarkable how well FC have worked with CAG, but we need to ensure that this is iron clad in the future – whichever way it is worded has to be iron clad. Chair: would be happy with ref to SCI – it gives us something to refer to. Agreed on that change.

18:45  Cllr Peter Abraham. Have been involved in planning for 50 years. Have seen dark times regarding this building. Was threatened by the owner.  Never believed we’d get to where we are – it seemed impossible. Today this is better than I hoped for. Only a short time ago the scheme was not acceptable to me and many others. It’s right that it’s as good as we’re going to get. We shouldn’t sell ourselves short. But it needs action. So I’d like to thank Officers for the work to get it right and interpret our views, and the developer who has picked up and listened, and the community who has really changed things and changed their own views. This is partnership to get the best we can and pull it off. But, but, we have to be vigilent. We still have to watch what happens. I hope the Conditions are strong enough to hold firm. Accept that some things are beyond planning control, but they’re not beyond us as a Council. So we need to step in if people are going to become homeless. Move that we grant planning permission with conditions in the report. Seconded. Martin Fodor wants to speak.

18:43  Cllr (can’t see his name, sitting next to Helen Holland): Congratulates community groups and officers in ensuring the scheme is as good as possible, and the developer for changing the scheme. No doubt that the scheme needs redeveloping. Our committee wants the best project, not just any old one. The street art on Carriageworks is ever changing. I will miss that aspect, but not the rest of the state of the building. Interested in public art Condition 14. As much as I am a fan of grafitti art I am aware it can lead to tagging. Would be nice if some balance could be made so that street art is confined and concerns of neighbours are taken on board. Pleased to see even delivery hours and bin collections conditions are in place.

18:41 Cllr Helen Holland. Wasn’t here in April. Really delighted that there has been such a level of engagement and that community feels they have had real influence. Want to pick up on Rob Telford’s point re wishing this had been done first time. Council has a prize winning Statement of Community Invovlmeent. This scheme should be used as best practice in how SCI works. This has been far beyond, and has turned a mountain of objection into support. Will be voting in favour.

18:36 Cllr Ani Stafford Townsend. Crucial that CAG stay involved. Would like proposed amendment but change from simply consult with to “work with”.  Also a few other issues.  A2 Dominion have been mentioned a few times, but no mention in the Conditions. The mention of them has sweetened the plan to the community. Would like to see A2 or another RSL included in the conditions. Chair asks for answer to this point. Planning Officer says we can’t specify which companies to work with. But can say a registered provider has to provide the affordable housing. (Misses the point that Ani is talking about more than just the 8 affordable units). The delivery management plan will establish a relationship of the nature with A2 but can’t nail it down beyond affordable housing. Ani: re the travellers – wants a condition that they have 6 months to vacate the site. Planner: We can’t condition this through planning conditions but we can contact housing colleagues and alert them to the need for their services.

18:33  Cllr Mark Wright. I spoke against the scheme in April. The previous plans were difficient in a number of ways, pleased they were sent back for more work. Genuinely surprised when I saw what came back. Normally the developer comes back with only notional change. That’s not happened here. My gasp was well and truly flabbered. Fifth Capital have addressed the issues in a serious way. The plans we see now are very much improved. Not brilliant – affordable housing could be better. But they have done enough and a bit more to conform with the Vision. Feel that these plans are good enough and workable. Will lead to a positive improvement of the local community. Agree need ongoing community involvment in case Marc goes under a bus. Developers don’t normally behave like this. I support the plans.

18:29  Peter Westbury is going through the changes to the proposals comparing before and after. Cycle parking, relationship with Tucketts and the new walkway through, absence of any gates, Ashley Road frontage (lowered in scale and gap to Tucketts), affordable housing now in block backing on Croft Dale at southern side of site, alterations to building heights to reduce overlooking on Hepburn Road. Any questions? Officer opinion is that the scheme can be supported.

18:26  End of statements. Peter Westbury, Planning Officer now speaking. Two points to highlight. Refer to the amendment sheet esp. P.25. Suggesting to put on the decision notice Conditions 12,13,14, 15 & 19 that CAG and other stakeholders are involved in discussions.  Other Conditions are technical matters that wouldn’t attract debate –  things that either are or aren’t.  Also mentions Condition 19 re delivery management plan – it has a number of elements that have come out in the public comments received. Condition 19 already includes establishing a resident liaison group.

18:21  Next five – no one to speak. Following five – no one to speak. Following five – Chris Chalkley from PRSC to speak. For last two days I’ve been at Bristol New Economy Summit where some of the city’s brightest minds are trying to work out ways to build a future that can work bearing in mind climate change and the financial system – looking for new thinking. The fundamental thing with the proposed development is that it is old thinking. The market mechanisms do not deliver what is required for community so we end up with a scheme that does not fulfil the spirit of the Vision – although Marc has worked hard to get a flavour of it. Can’t blame him – he’s a capitalist! But you end up with 10% affordable housing. There are people who think differently. Stokes Croft is at the forefront. CAG and the community have fought for a long time over this empty property. In the face of extraordinary difficulty they have done pretty well.  Nationally Labour councillor have a new leader that focuses on equality. For the Greens – what does a resilient city look like?

18:17 Marc Pennick speaking. 6 months ago the decision was deferred so that differences could be worked through. 1400 people had objected.  Now it’s only 2. Fifth Capital has listened to the community and worked with CAG. Have met with residents of Hepburn Road and addressed their concerns. Changed the Ashley Road building.  Worked with Tucketts building who now support the scheme. There is space for independent businesses and a market, and the amount of business space is increased. You asked me to listen to the community, we have and the community has spoken. Please consider the proposal before you.

18:16 Rob Telford. Won’t repeat what’s already been said – but this is about community involvement. There are lessons for the city to learn. There is still the outstanding issue of affordable housing – we’re not meeting the 30% target. Need to keep this in mind in the city otherwise it’s a worthless policy.

18:14  Prue Hardwick.  Wants to reiterate that Marc Pennick has broken all the stereotypes. No longer the ‘don’t give a toss’ ‘big bad wolf’ from London. But we need to build in community engagement in case he goes under a bus. Bear in mind that you the Councillors want this to be as good as possible.  Without CAG there none of us have the power to influence – we are the watch dogs to nip at the heals and help the Council out. Hold your heads up and say “we did the best we could”.

18:10 The next five statements, but none of them are here / want to speak. The next five: Lori Streich to speak for CAG. Thank you to everyone who supports our position. Five years of hard work to get to where we are and to bring the community behind a vision for the site and to work with the developer. Hard work but we’re nearly there.  But many details still to address.  Key questions for CAG: 1. Maintain close involvement with CAG. A precedent from Trafford Council. Fifth Capital are keen for involvemenet. But we’d like it written into the Committee’s decision. So far the Committee has been bold to get collaboration with the community.  Need it in writing to continue in case a different developer gets involved. 2. Still some concerns, mainly affordable housing. We’ve had constructive discussions with Fifth Capital and A2 Dominion. Would like to ensure that committee gets Officers to work with us to get amount of affordable housing increased and even get social housing included. Finally, thank you to the committee and to Fifth Capital for working with us and producing a much more acceptable scheme.

18:09 The first five statements. Hugh Nettelfield speaking: a sense of gratitude that Fifth Capital have engaged with the community and changed their scheme. But a sense that we need to maintain community involvement at every stage. 1. Need to ensure a reasonable local employment strategy that is properly monitored. 2. Need an effective management plan with community involvement at its heart.

18:08  They’re dealing with other procedural matters before getting to Carriageworks

18:05  Cllrs Ani Stafford-Townsend and Mark Wright say that although they previously objected to Carriageworks application they are now open minded.

18:03  The Chair (Cllr Peter Abraham) says there are 40 statements but only 30 mins so he’s going to ask for people to speak in groups of five!

18:01  Under starters order, and they’re off (with a sound check)

17:54   Everyone is gathering.  The room is full of UWE first year planning students. What will they make of this?!

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

Submit your statement to Planning Committee – 14 Oct

The Council has sent letters to everyone who commented on the Fifth Capital planning application telling them that the application will be considered by Development Control Committee A at its meeting on Wednesday 14 October 2015.

The meeting will take place in the main conference room (Waterside 3) at the Watershed, 1 Canons Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX starting at 6pm, although it is not possible to say exactley when the application will be discussed.

Download the notice (60kb pdf).

The planning officer’s report should be available from Wednesday 7 October via  the Council’s planning website.

To make your written or verbal statement to the Planning Committee (speaking is by far the best way of making sure your opinion is heard by the elected members) you must send it to Democratic Services by 12 noon on Tuesday 13th October. Download the Council’s guidelines on making a statement (330kb pdf).

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 🙂

Community Meeting – 11 June

The next Carriageworks Community Meeting will be on Thursday 11 June at 6:30pm at the Deaf Centre (now known as the Kings Centre) on King Square.

Since the April Planning Committee members of the CAG Liaison Group have had a number of discussions with Fifth Capital and the planners.  Fifth Capital have been making amendments to their proposals in order to address the points raised by the Planning Committee and also to try to meet our concerns and give a better match to the Community Vision.  This includes a better through-route, an enlarged open space behind the Carriageworks and more non-residential space for community, retail and commercial use.  We’d still like to see more social and affordable housing (the proposals on this haven’t changed) and the impact on neighbouring properties, including in Hepburn Rd, remains a concern.  However, the dialogue has been mostly positive and for that Fifth Capital deserve some credit.

So that you can hear what they’re now proposing and so that they can hear what you think, we’ve asked Fifth Capital to come to the Community Meeting.

They have promised to send us the revised proposals which we will release as soon as we receive them, hopefully before the meeting.

The amended proposals are likely to be considered by the Planning Committee in August.

We met Fifth Capital

Members of CAG liaison group (Lori, Prue and Julian) today met with Marc Pennick of Fifth Capital and Assael Architecture to discuss the proposals for the Carriageworks.

The meeting was setup following the resolution of the Planning Committee on 8 April to defer a decision on the planning application pending discussions on a number of key issues.  The Committee specified that CAG should be involved in discussions on these issues.  The Community Vision is clear in stating that CAG will work with anyone who will deliver the Vision so we wanted to hear if Marc was now able to make sufficient changes to achieve this position prior to the more formal discussions with the planners.

At the beginning of the meeting we asked that we follow Chatham House rules i.e. we wouldn’t report exactly what any party said, just the overall outcome. This was so that we could all speak freely without fear of (mis)quotation.

The meeting seems to have been productive. Since the Planning Committee, Marc seems to understand the reasons behind local opposition. He is still determined to get planning permission but in order to do so is willing to look at a number of changes which he hopes will earn local support by addressing these concerns.

We explained the main concerns with his proposals and the sort of changes that we thought would be needed to bring the scheme much more in line with the Community Vision.

Quite whether Marc will be able to make sufficient changes remains to be seen, but he was willing to listen, suggest ideas and try to find common ground.  At the same time he is clear that the economics of the site must stack up if anything is to happen and that he won’t be able to give everything that we might want.

The formal process of three way discussions between the planners, Fifth Capital and CAG will take place probably after the elections. For the moment Marc is considering the changes that he could make. Depending upon the advice and requirements of the planners the changes may have to be the subject of another round of public consulation and comment before they go back to Committee.  We will also ensure that we hold a CAG Community Forum to examine and comment on the proposals.

We look forward to seeing Marc’s amended proposals.