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.

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

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.

 

PG are waiting for a bat licence!

PG is still waiting for a Bat Licence from Natural England.  This is causing delays with the site preparation and demolition.  There are no further updates, and it is not possible for PG to give us a revised timetable.

If anyone knows anyone at Natural England who might be able to help this process along, please let us know – or just have a word in the right ear so the development can progress.  Thanks!