Scaffolding goes up, building comes down (soon)

As anyone who’s been in or around Stokes Croft in  the last week will know, the scaffolding has started going up on the Carriageworks and Westmorland House.

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The Carriage Works frontage onto Stokes Croft is having an array of stabilising blocks lowered into place to support the structure before demolition at the rear commences.

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Be ready for some traffic disruption and pedestrian redirection.

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It has taken 35 years to get thus far.

Demolition of Westmorland House was scheduled to start later this week but this has now been put back by a month or so. We’ll let you know once we have more information.

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Site update from PG Group

The following has been sent out by the PG Group. Once preparatory works are complete, demolition should start in early October and be completed by mid November:

  • Carriageworks: Wring’s are waiting for traffic and pedestrian management proposals to be approved by BCC and plan to start façade retention to carriage works w/c 20th August, the retention system should take 4-6 weeks to complete. Following the retention system being installed, the rear of the Carriageworks can be demolished, this should take 2 – 3 weeks to complete.
  • Westmorland House: The protection scaffold to Westmoreland will start going up w/c 20th August – this retention and scaffolding system should take approx. 4-6 weeks to erect. The removal of asbestos to Westmoreland House started on 6th August and should also take approx. 4 – 6 weeks to complete, so worst case scenario, barring any unforeseen issues, both will be completed by the end of September. Once the scaffold protection to Westmoreland is erected and asbestos is removed, the building can be demolished, subject to finalising the Party Wall Agreements with neighbours at 108. The demolition will use a mix of hand and machine techniques and is anticipated to take approx. 8-weeks, so should be completed by w/c 19th November.
  • Traffic management Stokes Croft: It is the scaffold and façade works that will require the temporary pedestrian and traffic management arrangement that we have mentioned previously. On this, there are three important and positive points to share:
    1. There will still be two way traffic on Stokes Croft as both lanes will be retained, although both lanes will be marginally narrowed.
    2. The pavement on the Carriageworks side of the road will be closed temporarily and a controlled signal crossing will be installed near the Post Office to let pedestrians cross safely. This will be in place for up to 4-6 weeks to allow the façade retention system to Carriageworks and protection to Westmoreland House to be erected.
    3. Once the façade and scaffolding systems are in place, the pavement will be re-opened and a 1.5m pedestrian footpath, lined with appropriate heavy duty traffic barriers for safety, will be installed along the front of the Carriageworks/Westmorland House. The businesses on the corner of Stokes Croft/Ashley Road – Café Kino, The Arts Café and the Here Gallery – will be fully accessible during these works. Click to  take a look at the detailed traffic management plans (pdf).
  • Traffic management Ashley Road: No road closures or pavement closures on Ashley Road during the demolition works.

Asbestos delays demolition

Bristol Post carries a story today that the discovery of asbestos in Westmorland House has delayed demolition by a further four weeks.

CAG’s understanding is that asbestos in the building was removed years ago but rather than safely remove it from the site the workers tipped some of it in the lift shaft. While this was known locally there was no hard evidence.  Consequently it would only have been confirmed by the contractors once it was safe to start excavating the lift shaft i.e. quite recently.

Just another twist for the complicated develoment!

UPDATE

Bristol 247 are also covering the issue of the asbestos and write “The developer has said the removal of asbestos could take a few weeks and has tentatively suggested demolition will proceed early September.”

Notes of Community Meeting 18 June 2018

Notes from the 18thJune Community Meeting

Attended by members of CAG Liaison group, local residents and local business people.

Lori (Chair) gave an update on things as they stand:

  • Site is being cleared (as seen on site visit earlier in June). Wrings, the demo contractor, have done a lot of work but it’s been harder and slower they anticipated (they had expected to demolish in March). Asbestos and other contaminants have been found and must be properly dealt with.
  • Problems with ecology licences especially bats – licence granted did not allow sufficient time to carry out works required.
  • 4 Ashley Road has gone. Materials have not been repurposed. Some discussion about how bad the condition of the building was and what could have been saved.
  • New target is to complete demolition by September.
  • PG still holding to target completion date (to the original planning permission) of summer 2020.
  • Quite a lot of difficulty in communications with PG – not responsive or actively engaging in discussions.

Cultural Plan

Willis Newson have been appointed by PG Group to progress this work. Challenge is that there are no, or few, precedents from elsewhere as to what a Cultural Plan for a development like this should be. The planning permission requires that CAG and the community be involved.

Planning Condition 15 (7 July 2016). Prior to the commencement of any construction works for the development a Cultural Programme Delivery Plan shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. This shall set out the details of the Cultural Programme Steering Group, co-ordinated by an appointed programme manager. This Delivery Plan shall set out clear principles for the delivery of cultural projects to be delivered within the site. Reason: In the interests of the proper management of the site.

Willis Newson are holding 1:1 meetings and focus groups over the summer. These will inform the contents of a widely distributed questionnaire in September. Comment that they seem to be harvesting information but not presenting any of their own thoughts or processing / sharing the information received.

Concern that Willis Newson’s approach has adopted an emphasis on public art and that they’re talking mostly to arts organisations and not to a broad cross-section of organisations that inform the social, economic and environmental culture of the area around the site. Residents also seem to have been left out of the consultation.

Message to WN is that the local community want a meeting with them. Need date asap so that it can be publicised.

Question of who defines the area? Recently there has been gentrification by people who have moved in and have different perceptions of the area. We’re trying to define our heritage – that’s why No.4 was important but now it’s gone.

The development needs to be a place where everyone feels as comfortable as possible – somewhere that is welcoming.

CAG’s view of the Cultural Plan is that it should include and set out uses of the ground floor and how they will complement the area.

Ownership of the ground floor of the finished development is more important than sculpture, in part because who owns will define what happens in the space.

Community Ownership

PRSC asking why there’s nothing coming back to the community? Conversation moved towards whether there should be an element of community ownership. There should be a partnership element to get the cultural plan going.

Graffiti is a red herring. There needs to be an element of community ownership under a land trust. Response from WN is that they are open to this. PG have been a brick wall. This should be a business pitch to PG.

The space needs to be controlled by local groups forever so that it can be something different in years to come if needed.

2 or 3 units need to be connected to the functions in the market space.

You want to control who the units are rented to – it shouldn’t be random. The level of control and who’s involved (should include residents and unit occupiers) needs to be carefully worked out. Keeping rents low is also key. The Cultural plan and management plan overlap. If we can’t stop WN going down the community arts route with the cultural plan then the management structure will finish up outside of our remit and beyond our influence.

Planning Condition 29 (7 July 2016): Prior to the occupation of each of the commercial unit(s) facing Stokes Croft and Ashley Road by any A1, A3, A4, A5, D1 and D2 use (or combination thereof) hereby permitted a management strategy should be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The scheme should to include the following unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority:

(a) Confirmation of the tenant mix

(b) The way in which the floorspace (layout) will be used

(c) How the tenants will manage their servicing requirements (including confirmation of refuse and recycling storage within the units and how this will be accessed, the number and type of vehicles arriving at the site each day to deliver and collect goods and what refuse and recycling items are to be collected from where and when

(d) Location and operation of staff cycle storage

The floorspace shall be occupied in accordance with the approved details and strategies in perpetuity. Any subsequent occupiers of the commercial unit(s) (in perpetuity) shall submit a new management strategy to the Local Planning Authority for approval prior to occupation

Reason: To ensure responsibility for the management of these facilities and to safeguard the appearance of the development, highway safety and the amenities of future and existing residents and businesses.

Recognition by everyone present that you can’t separate management plan and culture plan – they are integrated. Each is the other. Unanimous agreement on this statement.

Comment that PG are taking an old-fashioned approach. The community’s approach should be we want the whole of the ground floor. It’s in PG’s best interests. If it worked well it would really uplift the whole development. Selling them a business case is the way to go about it. Showing them how to deliver a different business model. We can hand something to PG to do something different.

The Identity of the Development

Montpelier Con Group wrote to WN and said they wanted to see the work of Godwin celebrated. This raises an issue of what the development should be called. Discussion about the name and identity of the scheme and the area.

Not Godwin Yard as shown in the planning application although the term ‘yard’ is Jamaican for garden so has local resonance.

Comment that it’s not Godwin in the way that Montpelier CG think of him, it’s the idea of Godwin – a free thinker and polymath who opposed mean spiritedness of developers and businesses.

Are we agreed that Godwin is important? Answer: yes

Housing

A lot happening in the background, although not as far forward as wanted. Scheme with planning permission has 10 affordable units.

HCA gave BCC funding of just under £1m with assumption it would be used for CPO. When PG group came along and took ownership the Council decided some of it could be offered to PG to up the number of affordable units. Has taken a long time to get that discussion underway.

There are people locally who want to downsize. Carriageworks could offer them great options and ensure that local residents move in. Need somewhere for local people to put their name down as interested purchasers.

Materials

Planning Condition13. Notwithstanding any materials noted on any approved plans, sample panels of all the external materials and finishes to all buildings, associated plant areas, walls, hard landscape features including paved surfaces, demonstrating coursing, jointing and pointing to the masonry, are to be erected on site and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority before the relevant parts of the work are commenced, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The development shall be completed in accordance with the approved details, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

Reason: To ensure that the external appearance of the building is satisfactory and that the character, appearance and setting of surrounding Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings would not be harmed.

Don’t know what the timescale on this will be (but has to before development starts).

They should be thinking about using local suppliers, crafts etc.

Materials could be included in WN consultation in Sept.

 

Photos from a Site Visit

On 7 June members of Carriageworks Action Group were given access to the site. Safety issues meant we couldn’t enter the buildings (or even get up next to them) but Wrings, the demolition contractors, were brilliant in getting us as close as possible and explaining everything that was going on.

While work has not yet started on either Westmorland House or the Carriageworks, the rest of the site has been cleared and demolition has started to a smaller building backing onto Croft Dale (Hepburn Road).

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Cleared site. No.4 Ashley Road (the old Doctor’s surgery) has completely gone (we were told it virtually fell down by itself it was so weak). Once demolition is completed the archaeologists will dig an investigation trench – it’s possible that they will find fortifications from the civil war (Cromwells forces camped at Montpelier Farm in 1645 and then attacked the royalist held Priors Hill Fort, now Freemantle Sq at the top of Nine Tree Hill. Spurworks or redoubts below the fort may have been on the Carriageworks site).

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Rear view of Tucketts building. Negotiations about the party wall are ongoing with the owners.

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This building backs onto and is attached to Croft Dale (Hepburn Road). As a result it’s being demolished by hand. The steel cross beams visible at the top of the picture will be lifted out by crane next week (beginning 11 June).

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The scaffolding has been built to cantilever out over Croft Dale, giving safe access to the upper parts of the building being demolished.

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Vast amounts of rubble are being created. This pile is from the building backing Croft Dale. Much of it will be crushed and reused on site, but the total volume will exceed that which is needed, so the rest will be removed.

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This is the back wall of Kuumba. There’s a significant difference in levels between Kuumba (Hepburn Road) and the Carriageworks site. The building backing Croft Dale is in the background.

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The rear view of the Carriageworks. Fire went through the building many years ago so it still isn’t safe to access. There are bats inside which has caused delays in getting access. You can clearly see the roof line and northlights of the workshops that attached to the back of the building.

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The rear wall of the Carriageworks is older than the frontage but of less architectural significance. You can see some of the old stonework where the more modern render has detached. The whole building is listed, so the rear wall is also protected.

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Rear view of Westmorland House, completed in 1966 but only occupied for about 16 years, it has now been derelict for 26 years.

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Covered in streetart / graffitti and imposing itself on the local landscape and culture, Westmorland House has echos of and almost the same age as the Berlin Wall (1961-89).

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While scaffolding has been installed to give a degree of safety, the workers rarely enter. In the past however many people have been in, as evidenced by the graffitti. Tragically the inherent danger of the building resulted in a number of people losing their lives here.

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Over the years the interior of Westmorland House was heavily vandalised. Asbestos ceiling tiles were pulled down and dumped in the lift shaft, making for a more difficult removal job.

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The boardroom in Westmorland House was panelled with Nigerian Pear Wood and had a domed roof light just visible in this picture. You can read more about the building as it was on our stories page. All the valuables were plundered in the 1980s.

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There’s a basement below Westmorland House, totally filled with rubbish, needles etc. This will all have to be cleared out before demolition can begin.

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Wrings have got some very nice toys.

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Familiar sight of the Carriageworks frontage. Before works begin this will be shored up which will mean narrowing of the road. First of all though Wrings need to make the interior safe engough to go inside and assess the structural strength of the building.

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Frontage of Westmorland House. Beneath the building is a single storey basement that will have to be cleared and then dug out – necessitating shoring up of the road. The basement will then be backfilled in layers to help provide a foundation for the new building.

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Staff on the site have created a little gallery of items and artwork discovered.

Thank you very much to Wrings and PG Group for giving us this viewing of the site.

PG are waiting for a bat licence!

PG is still waiting for a Bat Licence from Natural England.  This is causing delays with the site preparation and demolition.  There are no further updates, and it is not possible for PG to give us a revised timetable.

If anyone knows anyone at Natural England who might be able to help this process along, please let us know – or just have a word in the right ear so the development can progress.  Thanks!