Press Release from PG Group

This is the press release issued today (14 June 2017) by the PG Group

NEW REGENERATION PROJECT FOR THE HEART OF BRISTOL

A major regeneration project creating new homes is to go ahead at Stokes Croft in the heart of Bristol following full community consultations.

City developers, the PG Group, have acquired the derelict Westmoreland House, a six storey1960s built concrete framed office block which has been empty for 35 years and condemned as an eyesore by residents.

The deal also includes purchase of the adjoining historic Grade Two listed Carriage Works building which dates back to 1862 and is one of the West Country’s top ten most at risk heritages sites.

Local residents have been campaigning over a considerable time for action on the site which includes a yesteryear showroom for Victorian carriages.

PG Development Director Stuart Gaiger said the demolition of Westmoreland House and the restoration of the Carriage Works would create 112 new homes, as well as a ten business units.

“We have acquired the site, which was granted planning consent in July last year, from Opecprime Properties Ltd, and will now start work on a wide range of preliminary assessments,” he said.

Mr Gaiger said purchase of Westmoreland House would allow the creation of a development that could contribute positively to an already vibrant community and that consultations with the Carriage Works action Group and other local community interests would begin shortly.

” We want to deliver an enterprising development that respects and reflects the community ethos and, given the independent spirit that flourishes around the area,we look forward to some lively and interesting discussions.”

Mr Gaiger said PG hoped to start work on the two year project in the autumn but could reassure local people that the company was not looking to materially alter the existing permission.

PG Group, who have build up a fine reputation as regeneration specialists in and around the city, are currently completing conversion of the 1970s-built Lewins Place office complex into 148 new homes.

ENDS

‘Our responsibility is to demand more’

The Carriageworks Action Group and our work to bring about the redevelopment of this long derelict site has received a write up in the prestigious Urban Design Journal (issue 140).

ud140_magazine_carriageworks-october-2016The author is Rowan Mackay, a Bristol based urban designer and researcher, who has been tracking our progress for some time.

Rowan sets out the national and local context of dereliction, redevelopment and the difficulties that communites often face in engaging with major proposals.

He sees three key events in the success of CAG’s work to date.

  • Firstly the creation of the Community Vision and CAG’s ability “to communicate technically and knowledgeably, ….to form trusting relationships with major stakeholders and in doing so, to negotiate local interests on an equal footing”.
  • Secondly the Planning Committee’s instruction to Fifth Capital in October 2015 to work with CAG and improve their proposals.
  • And thirdly, the efforts of Fifth Capital to engage with and understand the issues faced by the local community.

The role of the City Council is praised for facilitating the Community Vision,
building the capacity of local representaives on equal terms with major stakeholders, and
pursuing conflict resolution through closer stakeholder partnerships.

But as the article concludes, if we are to secure our rights to the city “it is the responsibility of us all to demand more”. That’s our challenge in the coming months.

http://www.udg.org.uk/publications/journal

How the press can constrain freedom of speech!

An interesting dilemna arose at the Community Meeting on 2 June.  A reporter from the Post turned up and introduced himself saying that he’d be reporting on the meeting.  He added that he would also be blogging live.

As the meeting progressed Lori, the Chair, found that she was repeatedly asking the journalist not to blog on particularly sensitive issues.  Eventually the reporter pointed out that it was a public meeting and that he had a right to attend and report whatever he chose.  This made some members of the meeting quite anxious and they asked for the journalist to leave. He refused.

Historically we have always had very open discussions. These have been reported the next day by the Post which has obviously taken an overview on what is important, what isn’t and how much detail to include (given their own word limits). To date the reporting has been reasonably balanced and hasn’t caused any problems. The transition to live blogging however means that there is no time to step back and take an overview. Instead everything is reported verbatim irrespective of any wider context and whether it reflects the consensus and decision of the meeting. By virtue of it being blogged by official media, the account also acquires a gravitas that is somewhat greater than if it were tweets from one or more individuals.

Bizarrely we therefore found that the presence of the Post reporter was infringing upon free and open discussion.

In the end we decided to stop the meeting as the issue of reporting was getting in the way of the discussion that we needed to have.  Some people left, including the Post reporter.

A few minutes later we decided to have the second CAG community meeting of the day. Coincidentally there were some incomplete points on the agenda from our previous meeting so we were able to pick those up and make good progress.

CAG in the media…

Bristol Post

http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/George-Ferguson-praises-approved-plan/story-27998012-detail/story.html

Bristol Cable

http://thebristolcable.org/2015/10/carriageworks-development-in-a-mixed-bag-result/

ITV

http://www.itv.com/news/west/2015-10-15/approved-bristols-carriageworks-buildings-redevelopment-plan/

BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-34530135

Bristol Post

http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Plan-Carriageworks-site-Stokes-Croft-gets-ahead/story-27985999-detail/story.html

Bristol 247

http://www.bristol247.com/channel/news-comment/daily/news-wire/carriageworks-plans-finally-approved

BBC Radio Bristol

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p033d7rj#play (Roughly 1hr10 and 2hr10 into the programme – also see transcript)

BBC Radio interviews with CAG and Fifth Capital

Members of the public interviewed on Stokes Croft:

  • I remember time and again there have been conversations in the Council about doing it up. They didn’t come to fruition so you kind of forget about these things.
  • There’s so much need for a push from the community to do so many different things in the building; it’s a terrific opportunity. It’s something that Bristol could do to be proud of.
  • It’s good news.
  • Such a waste. Could be such a lovely building with people living in there.
  • Should be affordable housing.
  • It isn’t an eye-sore. It should be opened up to let people do what they want with it. That would be better.
  • It’s been a bit of an eyesore for a long time. With many people looking for housing in the area. Will benefit Stokes Croft and also tenants or people looking to purchase property in the area.

Laura Rawlings interview with Lori Streich and Cllr Rob Telford

2015-10-15 07:40

LR: Is this good news?

LS: Yes it is. Cautious optimism – it’s been an incredibly long road. A very significant step to actually achieving the end of dereliction of the site.

LR: When we spoke last time (in April) there had been concerns about making sure the development is in keeping with quirkiness of the area, the lack of affordable properties, that it wouldn’t be this gated closed off community. Has that been addressed now?

LS: That has been addressed. A lot has changed since April. CAG has been very actively engaged in a really good quite often difficult dialogue with the developer. To their credit FC have responded positively and creatively and made a lot of changes. Most significantly there’s a lot more commercial and open space. It is no longer gated; it’s been designed so that it would be pretty much impossible to turn it into a gated community.

LR: Lets bring in Rob. Are you happy with the plans?

RT: Yes we are largely. What’s been amazing with this process is that for the last year at least it started in a not consultative way. A lot of developers come to Bristol saying what they want to do and don’t start with a consultative frame of mind. But in this case the developer has gone away and thought he really wants this to happen and has actually worked with the community. That’s good to see. Would have saved a lot of time if they’d come with the right mindset from the start. It’s positive news that it’s happened eventually.

LR: You say it’s the developer who came with the right mindset. People are saying this morning, ‘why has it taken the Council 30 years to do something?’

RT: What happened is we had a compulsory purchase process to work with a registered social landlord but that fell through partly because Fifth Capital came in the frame. It’s been an eyesore for so long. It’s desperate for development.

LR: Is there anything we can learn?
RT: We have to learn the lessons of consultation from this. CAG has done amazing exemplary work to bring the Community Vision to fruition. It really has been amazingly exemplary work – the kind of stuff we should be looking at for all major developments in Bristol.

Laura Rawlings interview with Marc Pennick

2015-10-15 08:40

LR: Marc Pennick owns Fifth Capital London – the company that will own the site. It’s all changed sine we spoke to you last (in April). It’s all good news. What will people see?

MP: Last night was very enjoyable with the consent going through. It’s come a long way since April. With almost 1500 objections, last night we had 2 objections. We’ve turned it around over the last 6-7 months. The scheme that we’ll start in the next 6-7 months is a vibrant new square, apartments, independent businesses, pop-up shops, exactly what Stokes Croft needs.

LR: People were concerned that it would be exclusive, that it wouldn’t fit in the area, that it would be gated. Segregated yuppie flats was some of the concern and that there wouldn’t be enough affordable properties. But all of that has been ironed out?

MP: Through good work with CAG and good dialogue with wider community the gates have gone, the scheme’s been changed, we’ve got more commercial, more independent businesses going in there, affordable housing has gone up, and we’re looking forward to starting on the site. It’s been 27 years of pain for the area and we’re just looking forward to getting on.

LR: How do think it will it change the whole area?
MP: Stokes Croft has never really had much investment on the site itself and also in the wider area. We need to create a hub area that people not just in the area use but people in the wider city see it as a centre point. By creating this new market square that will be open at weekends with new independent businesses, it’s going to be a destination point.

LR: When will work start?

MP: We still have to sign S.106 agreement with the Council but that won’t take too long; there’s a lot of goodwill from Council members and the Carriageworks Action Group. One of the big points is that we’ve got some people who are on the site at the moment, some of them have been there for quite a while 5-6 years, and I’ve given my word that they’ve got 6 months until they have to vacate then we can get on

LR: How confident that you can deliver exactly what’s in the plans?

MP: These plans that we’ve proposed are not just going to be the plans but they will get better, we’re going to refine them, we’re going to work with CAG and the local community, we’re going to keep working on these plans and we’re going to keep making them better.

LR: If everything goes to plan when could it be finished?

MP: As soon as we start on site we should be done in 18-20 months.

LR: Wow – what a transformation that area’s going to see. Thank you.

Recent Media Coverage

Thursday 8th October

Bristol Post http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Revised-plan-mean-end-sight-derelict/story-27940767-detail/story.html

Insider City View http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/south-west/149080-redevelopment-bristols-worst-eyesore-nears/

Wednesday 7th October

Bristol 247 http://www.bristol247.com/channel/news-comment/daily/politics/carriageworks-plans-recommended-for-approval

Press Release: Planners must ensure ongoing community involvement

A community group is calling on Bristol Planners to keep them involved in the redevelopment of a city centre site that has been derelict for 30 years.

The Grade II Listed Carriageworks and neighbouring Westmoreland House were last occupied in the 1980s. Since then they have been a blight on the local neighbourhood as they have fallen into ruin. In early 2011 the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG) was formed to prepare a Vision for the site. Now, nearly five years later, it looks like something might be about to happen. But are the planners about to cut the community out of the scheme?

On Wednesday 14 October the Council will decide whether to give giving planning permission to Fifth Capital London to redevelop the site.

Lori Streich, Chair of CAG, said:

“The local community has worked incredibly hard to get these proposals. To begin with we were very opposed to Fifth Capital’s proposals as they were so different to our Vision for the site.  But in the last six months they have worked closely with us and made significant changes and improvements. Assuming planning permission is given on Wednesday, we want this strong working relationship to continue while the fine details of the scheme are worked up.

“Fifth Capital say they are happy to work closely with us, but the planners have not written us into the draft planning permission.  This must change.  It’s like an insurance policy – we need it in writing in case things go wrong.  It’s the only way to ensure that the community voice remains heard and that community needs are met”.

CAG is hoping that the Council’s planning committee will tell its Officers to change the wording of the planning permission to ensure that the community stays part of all future discussions.