Notes of 10 July 2019 Community Meeting

Nearly 30 people attended the Carriageworks Community Meeting at St Pauls Learning Centre on 10 July.  PG Group, the developer, was there to explain their latest proposed changes to the existing planning permission.

At the beginning Lori Streich, the Chair of the Carriageworks Liaison Group, outline the objections to the proposed cahnges as concerns about:

  • the Ashley Road frontage
  • the height of the Ashley Road part of Block A
  • the treatment of the gateway from Ashley Road into the site

PG said that they understood these concerns and had made further changes in response.  They noted that the scheme designed by Fifth Capital / Assael and granted planning permission was never intended for build – it was just to get planning permission. PG now have to deal with practicalities, contractors, building regs etc. The proposed changes are grounded in the reality that this difficult and tight site needs to be made viable. The changes are:

  • Introduction of horizontality using Bathstone across the whole frontage
  • Accenting of the windows
  • Introduced railed Juliet balconies to break up the frontage
  • Restored commercial units as in the Assael drawings
  • Taken the fifth floor and recessed it 4-5m so not visible from top of Picton St.
  • The building footprint remains the same
  • Clarification that corner commercial unit is recessed so not visible from the viewpoint in the cgi drawing. Entrance is wider and then narrows to width of existing scheme. Commercial unit is still glassy, but have removed the curved glass frontage. Recess was necessary for fire access turning circle.

IMG_0276.JPGDrawings of these proposed changes were on display and can be seen on our website. At the time of writing they have not been submitted to the planners.

Subsequent discussion focused on:

  • Use of local labour (including young people) and suppliers. PG confirmed that this will happen but that they have not yet reached the stage of dealing with the details of this issue.
  • Archaeology. PG confirmed that a report has been prepared, that nothing unexpected has been found and that the report will be shared in due course.
  • The Council’s previous rejection of six stories fronting Ashley Road. PG commented that the Council’s agendas have changed since 2015 and that there is now greater focus on the overall scheme and the place that will be created. Rather than looking at the precise number of stories they will be looking at the overall benefits of the development.  Density of the scheme is at the lower end of the scale compared to other developments coming forward in Bristol.
  • Lighting and shadowing from the scheme.
  • Whether a Section 73 application (amendment to an existing permission) is appropriate given the scale of changes proposed.
  • Affordable housing.  PG said that they are discussing with the City Council the potential to increased the number of affordable units, but they need to have a viable scheme before they agree anything. Affordable housing, in itself, does not improve the viability.
  • Viability.  PG said that the existing planning permission does not provide a viable scheme. If these changes are not approved they do not have a viable development.
  • Hepburn Road frontage and concerns about the bolt-on window screens (as opposed to triangular windows in the planning permission that prevent overlooking into neighbours’ gardens)

Currently the material changes application will have to go to Committee due to the number of objections (20 is the threshold but over 100 have been received).

There was further group discussion about the proposed changes and also about the Cultural Plan.

Cultural Plan comments

  • Question 1: What % mixture of uses would you like to see between: retail, bars / cafes, day /night time uses, other commercial, voluntary / community, other – in which case, which ones?
    • Answer: A bit of everything. Nothing late night as it’s a residential area. 70% commercial, 30% community / voluntary. But mixed up together.
    • Answer: No night time uses. Some twilight uses. Lots of daytime uses.
  • Question 2: What % mix of tenants would you like to see between: local sole traders, sole traders from elsewhere, local chains, national multiples 

    • Answer: Local sole traders – yes. Sole traders from elsewhere – possibly. Local chains: yes. National multiples – definitely not.
  • Question 3: What do you think the greatest challenges are going to be for whoever manages the space?
    • Answer: Get it on people’s route, to walk through and into the space and the market, the entrance ways, activities, marketing are all going to be really important to get it moving and active
  • Question 4: Should PG be immediately working with CAG on the details of how the ground floor is used and managed?
    • Answer: Yes, of course
  • Question 5: Other issues to consider?
    • Answer: Element of public art that does need to be in it all and the way in which management and culture work together and share the same vision. No good to have management that don’t see what we’re trying to do. And no point in having flaky people doing lovely things that are not viable. Must be viable and enough businesses to make it constantly lively.
    • Whichever estate / management agent is in there must buy into the cultural plan. Problematic if the agent deviates from the plan.
    • CAG’s responsibility is to make sure we are realistic enough around viability but not to lose heart altogether.

Additional design comments:

  • Current gateway does not lend itself to a friendly advert for what’s going inside. Access for traders is poor. Proposal has lost the loading layby in front of Block A.
  • Don’t like the façade too much and height is too much
  • Female safety in stair wells
  • Critical of the elevations
  • Doesn’t have the syntax of a row of shops
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Amendments to design of Block A – July 2019

We have just this evening received from PG these proposed changes to the designs of Block A.  We have the community meeting tomorrow (Wed 10th July 6:30pm at St Pauls Learning Centre) so wanted to get these drawings to you as soon as possible.  We haven’t yet had a chance to look at them.

Click the images below to open a PDF in a new tab.

Consultation on new PG planning application – submit your comments

PG have submitted a planning application to change Block A, the building that fronts Ashley Road. 

The application is a Section 73 application to make material amendments to the existing permission. So it is not a brand new application, but it is much more significant that the non-material applications that PG were submitting earlier this year.

You can see all the online files on the City Council’s website where you can also formally submit your comments. The application number is 19/02364/X.

At our community meeting on 16 May there were great concerns about the emerging proposals. Specifically: the height and mass in proportion to nearby buildings, the design of the shop fronts, the facade design and the materials.

Material amendments to a planning pemission are sometimes referred to the Planning Committee if requested by the committee members or if the planning officers consider it is justified e.g. if there are significant objections and or changes to the design of the building. Submitting your views to the proposals is therefore important.

The public consultation formally ends on 19th June (although this may be extended in practice) so please send your comments to the Council today and also copy them to us so that we can represent your views effectively and so that others can see what you’ve said.

Given the importance of the proposed changes and also the concerns about the Cultural Plan we are having another Community Meeting on Wed 10 July, 6:30pm at a venue to be decided. Put it in your diary and we’ll let you know the venue closer to the time. At the meeting we will have copies of the proposed changes.

CAG has always been committed to working with any developer who will help deliver the community vision and end the very long dereliction of this site. But we will not support a developer who does not deliver the vision.

The revised plan can be seen below along with the plan for which permission was granted. You can see the difference in scale on Ashley Road, and a different design for the entrance into the commercial and market space. (Note that the architects for the permissioned scheme deliberately left the more distant Block A2 uncoloured in order to reduce its visual impact).

May 2019 planning application

2019 Proposed Design

2015 Scheme with Planning Permission

2019 Proposed Design

Diag 4: Site cross section showing east elevation of Blocks A1 and A2 (from 2015 planning permission)

2019 Proposed ground floor plan

2015 Ground floor plan with permission

The Carriageworks is not an easy site to develop. The PG Group has been very open in saying that the cost of clearing it was higher than anticipated and that the build cost is also likely to be higher than expected. Given the current political climate it is also very difficult for them to be clear on potential selling prices for the flats.

But we also need to be aware of the architectural context and the fit of these designs. Above all it is a very important gateway site, with the Carriageworks, one of Bristol’s most architecturally important and impressive historic buildings, at its heart. So these designs must be given careful thought and a considered response. We urgently need your responses if we are to represent your views effectively. Every view received by the council will help and every one is important.

Notes of 16 May 2019 Community Meeting

Twenty people came to the Carriageworks community meeting at Hamilton House on 16 May.

It was the first meeting since November but Lori Streich, chair of CAG, said that things had been continuing behind the scenes. Key points are:

  • The site has been cleared. Took longer and more complicated than PG were expecting.
  • There has been a delay identifying the contractor but we understand that one is now being appointed. Once we find out who it is we will put on our website.
  • Construction is due to start in the autumn.
  • Archaeologists are currently on site digging trenches.

Planning Applications

PG have submitted three relatively non-controversial minor amendments to the planning permission and affecting blocks B, C and D (full details on our website).

Dominic Taylor (owner of neighbouring Tucketts Building and architect) said he felt that PG were pushing the non-material amendments to breaking point. Removing a roof terrace (from Block D) is not non-material and should be dealt with through the normal planning process. PG’s piecemeal approach meant that the overall picture is obscured and everything we have secured could be slowly chipped away. CAG should keep a watchful eye on all changes. Cllr Mike Davies said if the planning officer decides that a proposal is not a non-material amendment they will advise the applicant to put in a different type of amendment.

Block A (the largest block) has been the subject of discussions and will likely see changes to the current planning permission. The proposals were first revealed in November 2018 but but not met with great love. PG had provided 3D renderings of the proposals for the meeting and these were circulated. Lori clarified that, while the email from Jenny Gee said that ‘the preferred option was Option B’, this was only on the basis of a choice between the two disappointing options. CAG is eager to hear what everyone else thinks. Discussion followed about the designs. Points included:

  • The existing planning permission has two buildings named A1 and A2. Block A1 (which fronts Ashley Rd) is four stories high while Block A2 (which is in the middle of the site) is six stories high. Each block has its own stair and lift shaft although the main spinal corridor links the two together. The proposed changes create a single block (Block A) with a shared stair and lift shaft and increase the height of Block A1 to six stories.
  • No way that adding two storeys on a block is a non-material amendment.
  • We have been provided with 3D renderings of the scheme but the absence of proper floor plans and elevations make it impossible to fully understand what is proposed.
  • In particular it is very unclear how the corner to the lane accessing the market square will work. The existing planning permission had a lot of attention put into this. Now it is very vague. It does not look like a commercial entrance, instead it looks like a back alley to more flats.
  • The shop fronts do not look like shop fronts. A risk that the plan is to convert them to residential after being unlet for a year.
  • The façade needs more depth so that the existing shops roll round onto Ashley Road.
  • The white lines are meant to be bathstone. This is not a design reference – it’s just chucking in some different materials. This is inappropriate.
  • The current facade is quite articulated and honest. The proposed change is not.
  • The proposed building is higher than Tucketts. This goes against the Planning Inspector’s report.
  • There should be a step down from Tucketts to the new building to the Salvation Army. The amendments lose this.
  • The proposed changes increase shadowing in the area and reduce natural light to neighbouring buildings. The existing planning permission had a setback of the top floors to reduce the impact on light – that setback is now being removed.
  • What evidence is there that the additional space actually help viability?
  • Feels like they’re trying to strip out the character, driven by finances and nothing else.
  • The pavement levels appear to be inaccurate.
  • Colouring of the sky and materials in the graphics is adjusted to try to make the upper floors less intrusive.
  • Very bland for a gateway site.
  • Too modern in an old space.
  • A pastiche of modern architecture.
  • The archway has been removed. (Comment that this was at the request of the emergency services who might need to access the site, but apparently in the permissioned scheme the arch was designed to swing out of the way).

Lori sought an overall opinion of people in the room. The consensus was that that changes should not go ahead as proposed.

It was agreed that there should be another meeting once the application has been submitted to the planners. This will need full drawings on display. It was suggested that we should have neutral architects on hand who can help articulate and explain people’s instinctive objections.  UPDATE: The application has now been registered – see https://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/centralDistribution.do?caseType=Application&keyVal=PRLISBDNHHU00

Finding the right time to meet will be difficult but CAG will start arranging as soon as the application has been registered by the planners.

Lori made the point that when considering these changes we need to remember the bigger picture. Our aim, from the vision, is to get the site redeveloped and to work with any developer that shares our vision.

Stokes Croft Community Association

Leighton de Burca from the new Stokes Croft Neighbourhood Association introduced emerging ideas.

Businesses and non-residents with a stake on an area etc are excluded from having a say in how a neighbourhood is planned. Other areas of the city have Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP). This is a binding document on planners that can include shopfront design as, for example, at Old Market.

At the Stokes Croft Community Assoc meeting it was agreed there should be a Neighbourhood Plan for the area. The Draft Local Plan identifies sites for housing in the area. There will be a lot of change.

Leighton is employed with funding from Portman Brown and others who have an interest in the area e.g. nightclubs. Concern is residential uses arriving next to nightlife users. His job is to bring people together. Needs 21 people who live, work and socialise in the area and represent a diverse mix to work on a board together – has 10 so far.

Cultural Plan

Lori explained that a Cultural Plan for the Carriageworks site is a planning condition along with public art and management plan. The intention is to address any concerns that commercial units will not be let or that the ground floor will just not work for any number of reasons.

In early 2018 PG appointed Willis Newson, art consultants, who have been working on the cultural plan and public art plan. From what we have seen however, they are producing an arts plan and not a cultural plan.

Cultural plans, in the context of developments like Carriageworks, are not defined. But we know that the site has a natural connection from Picton St, an exit onto Stokes Croft, double frontage shop units, a market, a load of small secondary frontage units at the back that lends themselves to other sorts of stuff. The Willis Newson proposals make no mention of the type of function that will go into the units, or of how people will walk through, of the entrance, of how the market might work etc. We believe that the cultural plan needs to take a wider view than just the arts and that ultimately it will add value to the development. PG however have not been willing to enter into discussions about this wider view.

CAG has drafted an outline of what it believes the cultural plan should be – this was circulated. Discussion points included:

  • Units need to contribute to daytime and twilight business community rather than night-time community
  • We need services that enable residents of all ages and types to live in the area without having to resort to cars (although without ending up with another Tesco)
  • Workshop units that keep the rents down so you get interesting uses
  • Need to consider business rates (which are high in Stokes Croft) – make sure units are below the threshold to get rates relief
  • There is a conflict between turning the market area into a destination for people from all over the city and making it something of use to local residents. Being a destination has consequences for residents. The cultural plan should recognise two strands that need to be reconciled
  • The site should be something that people from St Pauls community will go into. The scheme cannot turn its back on St Pauls. Can’t ignore poverty. If you are building in an area with a rich cultural history you don’t just throw in expensive juice bars – it just services division. You have to make it as inclusive as possible
  • If it works properly it becomes a very cool place to live
  • There needs to be a sound assessment by the Council – the entrance way could turn the market place into a bass amplifier!
  • Will the Council charge for the market – and how much?
  • Management and design issues need to be part of the design and the cultural plan
  • When people hear cultural plan they think art. They don’t think placemaking
  • Need to consider CCTV – there are only two working cameras on Stokes Croft
  • Gates are not an option, but security does need to be considered and is a critical management issues that has to be part of the plan. In Old Market there are gates that are not locked but are so heavy the dealers etc don’t bother to open them
  • Need to look after the residents
  • Need good lighting
  • Design in the solutions to anticipated problems and design out the little anti-social behaviour corners.

CAG needs a mandate to go to the planners and say that the emerging cultural plan falls short. To comply with the planning conditions PG should properly engage about longer term issues.

Etceteras

Blue Mountain planning application has been submitted – large 250 bed student scheme. Please promote the consultation link https://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=PPUSGUDNH3S00

Request: If you are commenting on planning applications or other issues please copy them to the carriageworks.org.uk website as well so that we can see the whole picture.

Site update from PG Group

PG Group have today sent an update about the Carriageworks redevelopment:

“Since we last shared the revisions to the Ashley Road façade in January CAG and PG have continued talking and this has influenced some further design developments that we will be sharing with you over the next few week including:

  • Design B is the design being submitted for the application, the one with the 6-commercial ground floor units as this was the preferred option
  • PG has also committed the architects to then turn their attention to the development of the facade design, following the ongoing discussions with CAG, and will share these revised designs during the application process
  • Shortly a revised CGI will also be created and shared to show this design development

“We can also confirm that the light stone used on the façade is Bath stone – this doesn’t really come across on the elevation attached.

“By way of explanation, PG’s focus has been pulling all the strands together to enable submission of the application into the planning process. I am pleased to say this will happen this week.

“The other good news is that PG is also finalising the lengthy search for a suitable contractor to build the Carriageworks. This appointment is now being finalised with an Autumn start date, exact dates to be confirmed, but we will share this with you as soon as we can.”

The designs referred to are below – click for a larger version.  The update is not clear as to whether the application to the planning process will be a full planning application or another non-material amendment in common with the other changes submitted this year.

Proposed revisions to Ashley Road frontage

Click to see images from the design that currently has planning permission. The key change is to the fifth and sixth stories which were previously setback but are now brought closer to Ashley Road in order to increase the number of flats inside. The facade also sees a redesign.

CAG is holding a community meeting on Thursday to discuss the latest proposals and other things. Click for further details.

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

PG submit listed building application for change of Carriageworks roof

On 29 January PG submitted another application to the city planners ref 19/00436/X (links to full details on Council website).

Note that this application matches a non-material amendment (ref 19/00409/NMA) to the main planning permission, submitted on 25 January and already consented on 15 February (click for our summary of this application).

PG want to change the roof design of the listed Carriageworks building (Block C) to allow for an internal lift to reach the top floor. This will change the elevation of the building when seen from the rear by replacing two dormer windows with an enlarged mansard roof and one (non dormer?) window.  As a result of the proposed change the roof design will not be uniform (see drawing comparison below).

Extracts from architect’s drawings showing existing scheme and proposed change to roof of Block C

PG have not submitted any elevations to show what if any change will be visible from Stokes Croft or any cross-section of the revised roof.  However, the covering letter states that the changes will only impact the rear elevation.

In terms of formalities, the application seeks to vary the listed building consent they received in 2017 (ref 17/04561/X) which itself varied the original listed building consent granted in 2016 (ref 14/05982/LA).

Any comments on the application have to be made to the planning department by 28 Feb.