Notes of Community Meeting, 4 September 2017

32 people attended including reps of PG Group and their consultants, CAG Liaison Group and residents, businesses and other interested parties. Thangam Debbonaire MP called in briefly before the start.

Order of summary below is rearranged for logic and convenience so may not reflect actual order of the discussions.

Changes to Planning Conditions

A summary of the proposed changes was circulated (click to download pdf). Main focus to date of discussions between CAG Liaison Group and PG Group has been variations to the pre-commencement conditions to the planning permission. Focus is on phasing a complicated set of conditions to allow things to happen in more rational and workable order e.g. allow for demolition of building before carrying out historical investigation below.

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The Archaeology of Westmorland House

One of the planning conditions attached to the redevelopment of the Carriageworks states that no development shall take place until the developer has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work. This is to ensure that archaeological remains and features are recorded prior to their destruction.

Commonly ‘archaeology’ is synonymous with ‘old’. So on the Carriageworks site it might include traces of the Civil War, foundations of buildings previously on the site, remains from previous uses of the Carriageworks building etc.  But what about evidence of more recent activity?

Back in 2010 archaeologists John Schofield and Rachael Kiddey worked with a group of rough sleepers to excavate Turbo Island on Stokes Croft and explore the history of one of Bristol’s small but infamous plots of land. It culminated in A History of Stokes Croft in 100 Objects that encompassed everything from the traditional fragments of buildings, pottery and pipes through to modern syringes, all of which contribute to the history of the site. John Schofield, now Professor at the University of York, went on to describe, somewhat notoriously, the importance of the Sex Pistol’s graffiti at 6 Denmark St in London as comparable to 30,000 year old cave painting in Lascaux. Historic England have now listed the building. So archaeology can be modern as well as old – and it both aids our current understanding and documents our recent lives for the benefit of generations to come.

Skull on Westmorland House. Credit: PRSC

So what does this mean for the Carriageworks and its neighbour Westmorland House which is due for demolition? The derelict office block has provided a canvas for many street artists since the 1990s some of whom have gone on to greater things while others simply commented on the local environment at the time; “choking on your fumes”.

We hope that the archaeological recording, to be undertaken by Bristol and West Archaeological Services, will pay attention to the modern as well as the old.

PG Submit Application to Vary Planning Conditions

On 8 August PG Group submitted an application to vary the conditions attached to the planning permission gained by Fifth Capital in October 2015. The application has to be determined by Tuesday 07 Nov 2017.

The application and supporting documents can be found on the Council’s planning portal. Public comments can be submitted via the portal.

Planning Statement

Bristol based planning consultants CSJ provide the supporting planning statement. To summarise:

  • There are many pre-commencement conditions that have to be dealt with prior to demolition. This impacts on feasibility and deliverarbility of the project.
  • Planning permission expires in July 2018 so there is limited time.
  • Delaying some of the conditions until after demolition will allow for site constraints to be properly assessed, investigative works and preparation of a suitable construction contract.
  • The Carriageworks is unsafe and therefore needs demolition of the rear wall and internal structure (see justification below).

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PG Seek Changes to Planning Conditions

The CAG Liaison Group met with the new Carriageworks developers, PG Group, last week to discuss their plans for moving the development forwards.

Timescale

PG Group are planning to start demolition of Westmoreland House (not the Carriageworks) in October.  Before they begin demolition, however, they have to ‘discharge’ all the relevant planning conditions. They will seek to amend some conditions so that they can carry out demolition first (see below).

Assuming everything goes to plan, construction will begin in January 2018.

Changes to Planning Conditions sought

There are 24 planning conditions (click this link for the Notice of Decision that sets out all the conditions) that have to be complied with before development can begin.  In planning terms, development is defined as any works on a site including demolition.  However, PG tell us that some of the design work required to discharge certain conditions can only be completed once demolition has taken place and they have access to the cleared site for further surveys etc.  To get around this problem they will be seeking an amendment to some of the conditions to allow demolition to take place beforehand.  It takes the Council 13 weeks to consider an application to amend a condition, so the timing is very very tight if they are to start demolition in October.

Click this link for PG’s full schedule of conditions that they want to amend. In summary they are:

Condition Number Subject Change sought
1 Start development wihtin 2 years None
2 No demolition before construction contract signed Allow demolition before construction contract signed (they will be separate contracts)
3 No development before materials and finishes approved Allow for demolition before approval
4 Remediate any contaminiation before development Allow for demolition before remediation
5 No development before construction management plan approved None
6 No development before bat roost protection agreed None
7 All development work to comply with ecological appriasal None
8 Protection of slow-worms during site clearance None
9 Landscaping scheme to be agreed before occupation None
10 No clearance of vegetation suitable for bird nesting during season (1 March to 30 Sept) None
11 Before development begins, speficiation of built-in bird nests and bat roosts to be agreed Allow for demolition before agreeing the spec
12 No development before local labour strategy agreed None
13 Sample panels of materials and finishes to be approved before construction of that element None
14 Public Art plan to be approved before construciton begins None
15 Cultural programme to be approved before construction work begins None
16 Roof dormers and replacement windows in Carriageworks to be approved before that part of the work begins None
17 No development until archaeological work is implemented  None
18 No development before those parts of historic buildings that will be disturbed have been recorded Allow for demolition before recording
19 No development before contamination remediation scheme is approved Allow for demolition before scheme is approved
20 No development until extent of any contamination has been assessed Allow for demolition before assessing contamination
21 Detailed drawings of roof elements and shop fronts to be approved before construciton of that element None
22 No development before sustainable drainage strategy is approved Allow for demolition before submitting strategy
23 No development before scheme is registered with Code for Sustainable Homes registration beody CSH now replaced by Building Regs. Allow for demolition first.
24 No development until registered with BREEAM Go for BREEAM “Very Good” on ground floor commercial units only. Allow demolition before registration

Note: this table is a summary so may miss some of the nuances.  To get the full picture, read both the Notice of Decision and PG’s proposed changes.

These changes will form the basis of a S.73 application to the City Council planners (and a S.19 application for the listed building consent). There will be notices put on the site to say that the application has been submitted.  The application wouldn’t normally go to the Planning Committee, although given the profile of the Carriageworks scheme it might have to. The City Council is meant to give its decision within 13 weeks.

While most of these changes appear logical, the Liaison Group has not yet given PG it’s formal response to the proposed changes. If you have any views do leave comments at the bottom of this page as soon as possible.

Workers on Site

Some site investigations (e.g. ecology, archaeology) have already started so you may see people in hard hats on the site. CAG has facilitated direct communication between the developers and the site residents re site access, safety etc.

Cultural Programme, Public Art, Local Employment and Management Plan

You may recall that the Planning Committee required the developer to work with CAG on Conditions 12, 13, 14, 15 and 29.  We are drafting outline proposals for how we think PG should develop these plans and how the local communities should be involved. PG will be wanting to submit the finished plans in October so again the timing is tight.

Community Meeting

The next community meeting will be on Monday 4th September at 6pm, venue to be confirmed.