Community Meeting – 16 May 2019

We will be holding a Carriageworks Community Meeting on Thurs 16 May from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at Hamilton House (Mild West room).

Site demolition is now complete and PG have been submitting a number of non-material amendment proposals to the City Council.  As yet, however, a start date for development is still elusive, due in no small part to uncertainties in the construction and property markets arising from Brexit.

At the meeting we will discuss:

  • The emerging changes proposed by PG to the planning permission
  • The cultural plan, what it includes and what it doesn’t (but maybe should) include
  • How the Carriageworks site fits into Stokes Croft Neighbourhood Association’s emerging plans

We look forward to seeing you on the 16th.

Lori and the Liaison Group

Report from Nov ’18 Community Meeting

Meeting on 28 November 2018 attended by c.35 people including 7 from PG Group.

Note: We will publish copies of the floorplans, elevations and CGIs as soon as they are received – hopefully by 3rd or 4th December.

Site Update

  • Asbestos has all been cleared and Wrings now have heavy equipment on site to demolish Westmorland House. This will be the most visible part of site preparation. Anticipate completion by Christmas.
  • Trenches will be dug for the archaeological investigation after Christmas.
  • Target is to start building in the Spring 2019. It will be a two year build programme.

Scheme Changes

PG have been working on the designs since the site was purchased. Clear that the scheme that was given planning permission was not worked up with construction in mind; more an exercise in securing planning permission. So changes are needed. There are three broad categories of changes:
1. Changes made arising from feedback received over the last year

  1. Changes to make more efficient and better use of the space
  2. Changes which push the envelope in order to get more floor space and help the scheme’s viability.

Sequence of Changes to Planning Permission

PG want to avoid submitting a new planning application in which everything would have to be reconsidered. Instead they want to seek permission for smaller changes, one at a time. They will tackle the smallest changes first and then those that will require a new planning permission.

1. Westmorland House

Changes to window details and to bring forward recessed balconies on the left hand (north) side.

2. Carriageworks

Changes to the roof to allow stair and lift core to reach the top floor. Previously the top floor comprised duplex units with internal stairs. These have now been replaced with regular flats. This will need new listed building consent (s19 Notice) which will be dealt with at officer level so a shorter process than applying for listed building consent from scratch.

3. Block D

This is the affordable housing block. All the affordable units have to be under one roof; RPs (aka Housing Associations) will not accept otherwise.

  • The two ground floor residential units will be changed to commercial use.
  • There will be an additional storey with four residential units, so a net gain of two units (i.e. a total of 12 affordable units).
  • A lift will be added so that all flats are accessible.
  • Overall height of the building will be no different to the height of the stair housing previously leading to the roof garden. Shadowing of neighbouring properties will need to be carefully examined via a BRE209 report. (The Council’s new Urban Living planning policy seeks to protect the daylighting and sunlighting of existing buildings). It was pointed out that existing shadow diagrams do not show garden walls on Hepburn Road which gives the impression that there is more existing direct sunlight than there actually is.

These changes will need a full planning application. Don’t yet know if this will be dealt with at officer level or if will have to go to committee (a committee decision will usually be required if: councillors so require, or officers think the matter is significant, or there are more than 20 public objections). A committee decision will add about one month to the decision process. Adding the additional storey is essential for overall viability of the development.

4. Block A

Proposed changes:

  • The building will have one stair and lift core instead of the previous two. Previous design anticipated a taller building so two cores were required. This is not necessary for a six storey building. A sprinkler system and mechanical ventilation will ensure fire safety.
  • Rationalisation of service rooms including bin and bike stores to improve layout and make better use of space, but with no overall loss of facilities.
  • Plans show two empty residential units coloured blue – should be shown as yellow (commercial).
  • The Ashley Road frontage will be increased by a single storey and a fifth floor will be setback. From eye level it will look like a taller building. CGI (which will be prepared) will help show the change. Comments were made that this will introduce much more commercial type building to Ashley Road which has previously been residential in scale. Previous scheme had Block A stepping down from Tuckets building but elevations now show it stepping up.
  • Windows facing south towards Hepburn Road previously protected privacy of neighbours by their triangular form. This has now been replaced by bolt-on louvre screens. There was concern that this is an inferior solution and it was suggested that there should be a specific meeting with Hepburn Road residents to address this issue in more detail. PG agreed to the meeting.

Block A will need a full planning permission for a) change of use of all of ground floor b) additional storey.

Timescale

PG hope to have planning issues for Westmorland House (Block B) and Carriageworks (Block C) sorted out by mid February 2019.

Block D will be dealt with after mid February. Will need 13 weeks minimum but with S.106 could need 4 months to complete.

Overall process could be concertinaed by submitting all at the same time, but that potentially creates problems with overlapping applications.

Other Changes and Issues

Market Square

Whole of ground floor surrounding the square will be made commercial. Small planted area and wall in southern corner also removed. Helps give the square a better feel and will allow for more market stalls. Converting four residential units to commercial has no overall impact on viability.

Rooftop Gardens / Amenity Spaces

Feedback from Registered Providers (aka Housing Associations) is that roof gardens and amenity spaces are too expensive to maintain. They are therefore being taken out.

Commercial / Retail Units

Q re frontage of the commercial units in Block A which do not have large retail type windows. PG said their intention is to keep unit design as flexible as possible. They can then be adapted to occupiers / purchasers needs so if different frontages are required PG can do that. At this stage however PG do not intend to change the proposals any more than is absolutely necessary (to avoid having to make a new full planning application).

Total Number of Residential Units

2 additional affordable units. 12 additional private sale.

Some of three bed flats are being changed into one bed flats as no market for the larger ones. There is more market for one bed flats.

Four bed houses are unchanged.

Social Housing

PG have been in touch with Registered Providers (Housing Associations) who are interested in buying units. Also held discussions with Bristol City Council. However, PG have to make sure that the scheme is viable before they can discuss terms for residential units.

Block D will be affordable housing. Ten will be on shared ownership basis, the additional two may also be shared ownership. RPs might buy additional units but they will want complete flexibility on how they use those i.e. private rented, affordable or social.

Cultural Plan

Continuing in the background.

Timescale for Feedback

Comments from CAG to PG by Christmas. PG will then make applications after Christmas.  If you have any comments please send them to ideas@carriageworks.org.uk and we will forward them to PG.

Westmorland House – the beginning of the end

Yesterday morning the demolition of Westmorland House finally began.

Built in 1966 but abandoned in 1984, Westmorland House has been a blot on the landscape of St Pauls and Stokes Croft for too long. Its derelict hulk has loomed large over this part of the city, contributing to an air of abandonment and ‘anything goes’. Over the years it has attracted urban artists, fly-posters, graffiti, drug users, explorers, the homeless and tragically six people who lost their lives falling from the building’s unprotected heights. Local residents have been trying to get the site redeveloped since the 1990s and now that day has finally come.

PG Group bought the site in 2017 and yesterday their demolition contractors, Wring, sent in their biggest toys to start eating away at the concrete, steel and brick. Demolition is expected to take two months. It is anticipated that there may be pauses during the work to examine the structure and safety as the building is dismantled. Demolition works at the neighbouring Carriageworks (the frontage of which will be preserved) will also take place during the two month period.

A day to be celebrated, a day to be remembered. It’s the end of an era, and hopefully the beginning of something much much better.

More media coverage at:

Bristol Post and Bristol Post film

Bristol 24/7

Westmorland House demolition starts Wednesday

The demolition of Westmorland House will start tomorrow, Wednesday 20 November.

Westmorland House, 1960s architect's plan

The six storey concrete monolith of Westmorland House was built in 1966 as headquarters for Regional Pools Promotions. But its heyday was short-lived and by 1982 Regional Pools had moved away leaving the building empty.

Westmorland House, BristolLater in the 1980s the site was bought by Opec Prime, a property development company owned by the London based Comer brothers. Various planning applications were submitted over the years but these were either rejected as over-intensive or the schemes never came to fruition. In the meantime the site became a canvas for street artists, home to a group of travellers and, more tragically, the site of a number of fatalities.

The City Council recognised the blighting effect the building was having on St Pauls and Stokes Croft and undertook to use compulsory purchase powers to buy the site but attempts in the mid 2000s were sabotaged by the financial crisis. Efforts restarted in 2011 when CAG was formed and a community vision agreed. Opec Prime then brought in Fifth Capital to secure a new planning permission and in 2017 the site was sold to the Bristol based PG Group.

Carriageworks ground floor proposals

The redevelopment of the site will see the conservation and reuse of the neighbouring listed Carriageworks building and the demolition of Westmorland House ready for  replacement by new flats with commercial space on the ground floor and a public square.

Stuart Gaiger, Development Director at the PG Group, said “There has been a considerable amount of preliminary ground work to be done since we acquired this site in November to provide 112 homes and twelve business units but now our contractors are poised to begin the actual demolition. We want to deliver an enterprising development that respects and reflects the community ethos and the independent spirit that flourishes around the area”.

The Chair of CAG, Lori Streich, said the group had been working since 2011 to ensure the inspirational regeneration of the site in line with the community vision. “We are delighted that PG are now starting the demolition of Westmorland House which is a huge step in the history of the site,” she said.

The redevelopment is due to be completed by the autumn of 2021.

Links: History of Westmorland House | PG Group | Community Vision | Redevelopment Plans

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.

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 Westmorland 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 Westmorland 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 Westmorland 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 Westmorland 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 development!

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.