Day by day it’s been getting smaller.
Day by day it’s been getting smaller.
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.
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
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.
Changes to window details and to bring forward recessed balconies on the left hand (north) side.
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.
This is the affordable housing block. All the affordable units have to be under one roof; RPs (aka Housing Associations) will not accept otherwise.
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.
Block A will need a full planning permission for a) change of use of all of ground floor b) additional storey.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Continuing in the background.
Comments from CAG to PG by Christmas. PG will then make applications after Christmas. If you have any comments please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward them to PG.
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.
More media coverage at:
The demolition of Westmorland House will start tomorrow, Wednesday 20 November.
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.
Later 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.
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.
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.
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.
Be ready for some traffic disruption and pedestrian redirection.
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.
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:
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!
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.”