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

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Scaffolding goes up, building comes down (soon)

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.

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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.

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Be ready for some traffic disruption and pedestrian redirection.

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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.

Site update from PG Group

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:

  • Carriageworks: Wring’s are waiting for traffic and pedestrian management proposals to be approved by BCC and plan to start façade retention to carriage works w/c 20th August, the retention system should take 4-6 weeks to complete. Following the retention system being installed, the rear of the Carriageworks can be demolished, this should take 2 – 3 weeks to complete.
  • Westmorland House: The protection scaffold to Westmoreland will start going up w/c 20th August – this retention and scaffolding system should take approx. 4-6 weeks to erect. The removal of asbestos to Westmoreland House started on 6th August and should also take approx. 4 – 6 weeks to complete, so worst case scenario, barring any unforeseen issues, both will be completed by the end of September. Once the scaffold protection to Westmoreland is erected and asbestos is removed, the building can be demolished, subject to finalising the Party Wall Agreements with neighbours at 108. The demolition will use a mix of hand and machine techniques and is anticipated to take approx. 8-weeks, so should be completed by w/c 19th November.
  • Traffic management Stokes Croft: It is the scaffold and façade works that will require the temporary pedestrian and traffic management arrangement that we have mentioned previously. On this, there are three important and positive points to share:
    1. There will still be two way traffic on Stokes Croft as both lanes will be retained, although both lanes will be marginally narrowed.
    2. The pavement on the Carriageworks side of the road will be closed temporarily and a controlled signal crossing will be installed near the Post Office to let pedestrians cross safely. This will be in place for up to 4-6 weeks to allow the façade retention system to Carriageworks and protection to Westmoreland House to be erected.
    3. Once the façade and scaffolding systems are in place, the pavement will be re-opened and a 1.5m pedestrian footpath, lined with appropriate heavy duty traffic barriers for safety, will be installed along the front of the Carriageworks/Westmorland House. The businesses on the corner of Stokes Croft/Ashley Road – Café Kino, The Arts Café and the Here Gallery – will be fully accessible during these works. Click to  take a look at the detailed traffic management plans (pdf).
  • Traffic management Ashley Road: No road closures or pavement closures on Ashley Road during the demolition works.

Cultural Plan – sharing the findings to date – drop-in event

The following has been sent out by Willis Newson who are preparing the Cultural Plan on behalf of PG Group:

PG Group and Willis Newson are inviting people living in St Pauls, Stokes Croft, Montpellier, Redland, Kingsdown, Broadmead and Cotham to find out about possible arts, heritage, cultural activities and enterprise opportunities there are for the ground floor of the redeveloped Carriageworks and Westmoreland House and to share your thoughts and ideas.

The buildings have been derelict since the 1980s and have been purchased for development by Bristol based developers PG Group. Work has started on the demolition already and will complete in Summer/Autumn 2020. Central to the exciting new development is the creation and implementation of a Cultural Plan and Public Art Strategy for the site that will support the new building to thrive and support the local social, cultural and economic ecologies of the area.

For the last 9 months, Willis Newson have been having discussions with Carriageworks Action Group and PG Group and running consultation sessions, community meetings and focus groups to develop a Cultural Plan and Public Arts Strategy for The Carriageworks and Westmoreland House on Bristol’s Stokes Croft.  They are keen to share the findings to date with the community in advance of the plan being finalised.

Ideas to date include a community-led process of co-commissioning and leading on a programme of activity, a market area for local artists and traders, heritage projects and a community hub space for cooking and events.

There will be a drop in at The Citadel (Salvation Arrmy), 6 Ashley Road from 2-6pm on Wednesday September 12th as well as a more facilitated presentation and discussion in the space from 6:30pm-8pm.  Everyone is welcome and hot drinks will be served.

Asbestos delays demolition

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!

UPDATE

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.”

Cultural Plan meeting – Wed 18 July

Dear Friends of the Carriageworks

As you know, there is a CAG meeting on Wednesday July 18th at 6pm (latecomers welcome!) at St Paul’s Learning Centre to talk about what we want to see included in the cultural plan for the development.

Jane Willis from Willis Newson and Kim Wide from Take A Part, who have been commissioned by the PG Group to write the plan, will be there to hear what you have to say. They have already spoken to a range of people individually and in small groups, so if you have already seen them, please bear in mind that this evening is a chance for others to be heard.

These are the questions we will be considering

  • Heritage: What aspects of the area’s heritage do we want to see celebrated within the site?
  • Community and Partnerships: How can we create a place that is inclusive and welcoming to all?
  • Enterprise and Market: What will attract businesses to the space and make the market an ongoing success
  • Public Realm: How else would we like to see the space used, in ways that respect the needs of residents and neighbours?

These are big questions and there is never enough time. As usual Lori will try to pick up on everyone there, but all of us cannot realistically expect to talk about every point, so everyone will have a chance to add their thoughts on post-it notes.

If you are unable to come in person please feel free to send your suggestions, ideas and dreams to CAG:  ideas@carriageworks.org.uk and to Jane and Kim at Jane@willisnewson.co.uk or drop in a note to Willis Newson at Utility House, 3 York Court, Upper York Street, Bristol, BS2 8QF. Please try to keep within the framework of the questions. We will also send round a summary of everything we have received on email and at the meeting after the event.

Following this event, there will be an open day running from 2pm-8pm on Wednesday 12th September, venue tbc, when Jane and Kim will share the draft ideas being developed from the consultation process in order to seek further feedback and input before the Cultural Plan is drafted in October.

After the Cultural Plan is agreed, we will be looking at management of the site, but that is for another time and outside the scope of this meeting.

Onwards and upwards!

Best wishes Lori and the liaison group.

Cultural Plan Meeting for Residents – 18 July

There will be a meeting for residents and others on 18th July 2018, 6-8pm, at St Pauls Learning Centre to contribute to the development of the cultural plan for the Carriageworks.

This meeting was specifically requested at the Community Meeting in June.  Willis Newson, who are writing the cultural plan for the developers, PG Group, have agreed to this special session to allow residents who have not been involved in the consultation to date to have their say.

See you there!