Notes of Community Meeting, 4 September 2017

32 people attended including reps of PG Group and their consultants, CAG Liaison Group and residents, businesses and other interested parties. Thangam Debbonaire MP called in briefly before the start.

Order of summary below is rearranged for logic and convenience so may not reflect actual order of the discussions.

Changes to Planning Conditions

A summary of the proposed changes was circulated (click to download pdf). Main focus to date of discussions between CAG Liaison Group and PG Group has been variations to the pre-commencement conditions to the planning permission. Focus is on phasing a complicated set of conditions to allow things to happen in more rational and workable order e.g. allow for demolition of building before carrying out historical investigation below.

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What is the Carriageworks Cultural Plan?

When Fifth Capital were granted planning permission back in October 2015 one of the conditions stated:

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.

It was also a requirement of the permission that the developers consult and work with local stakeholders, including the Carriageworks Action Group (CAG), on certain planning conditions including the cultural plan, public art, local employment, long term management and external finishes.

From the outset, when we submitted a Cultural Strategy Position Paper (pdf) to PG, CAG has believed that the Cultural Plan should encompass all the cultural aspects of the scheme i.e. economic, environmental and social. As such it can address local employment, long term managment, public art etc. We fully accept that it cannot redefine or change the development, but there are still opportunities to consider and influence how the scheme will be impacted by and impact upon the local area and its culture in the short and long term.

When the Liaison Group met with PG on 12 July it was agreed that we should draft a specification for the Cultural Plan and suggest organisations that might be able to prepare it. Click to read our draft specification (pdf).  When we met again on 30 August there was a lively debate about the Plan, its purpose and who should write it with PG’s consultants taking a different view of its function and its commissioning.  There will likely be further discussion at the Community Meeting on 4 September.

The Archaeology of Westmorland House

One of the planning conditions attached to the redevelopment of the Carriageworks states that no development shall take place until the developer has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work. This is to ensure that archaeological remains and features are recorded prior to their destruction.

Commonly ‘archaeology’ is synonymous with ‘old’. So on the Carriageworks site it might include traces of the Civil War, foundations of buildings previously on the site, remains from previous uses of the Carriageworks building etc.  But what about evidence of more recent activity?

Back in 2010 archaeologists John Schofield and Rachael Kiddey worked with a group of rough sleepers to excavate Turbo Island on Stokes Croft and explore the history of one of Bristol’s small but infamous plots of land. It culminated in A History of Stokes Croft in 100 Objects that encompassed everything from the traditional fragments of buildings, pottery and pipes through to modern syringes, all of which contribute to the history of the site. John Schofield, now Professor at the University of York, went on to describe, somewhat notoriously, the importance of the Sex Pistol’s graffiti at 6 Denmark St in London as comparable to 30,000 year old cave painting in Lascaux. Historic England have now listed the building. So archaeology can be modern as well as old – and it both aids our current understanding and documents our recent lives for the benefit of generations to come.

Skull on Westmorland House. Credit: PRSC

So what does this mean for the Carriageworks and its neighbour Westmorland House which is due for demolition? The derelict office block has provided a canvas for many street artists since the 1990s some of whom have gone on to greater things while others simply commented on the local environment at the time; “choking on your fumes”.

We hope that the archaeological recording, to be undertaken by Bristol and West Archaeological Services, will pay attention to the modern as well as the old.

Community Meeting – 4th September ’17

There will be a Community Meeting on Monday 4 September, 6pm at the Kings Centre, King Sq.

PG Group will be attending the meeting.

We will be discussing their proposed changes to the pre-commencement conditions, their programme of work and the commissioning of the Cultural Plan for the site.

PG Submit Application to Vary Planning Conditions

On 8 August PG Group submitted an application to vary the conditions attached to the planning permission gained by Fifth Capital in October 2015. The application has to be determined by Tuesday 07 Nov 2017.

The application and supporting documents can be found on the Council’s planning portal. Public comments can be submitted via the portal.

Planning Statement

Bristol based planning consultants CSJ provide the supporting planning statement. To summarise:

  • There are many pre-commencement conditions that have to be dealt with prior to demolition. This impacts on feasibility and deliverarbility of the project.
  • Planning permission expires in July 2018 so there is limited time.
  • Delaying some of the conditions until after demolition will allow for site constraints to be properly assessed, investigative works and preparation of a suitable construction contract.
  • The Carriageworks is unsafe and therefore needs demolition of the rear wall and internal structure (see justification below).

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PG appoint architects and planning consultants

PG Group have been appointing their team.

Bristol architects Stride Treglown will be working up the detailed designs for the building.

Bristol planning consultants CSJ will be in charge of discharging all the planning conditions.

Further appointments:

(added 31 August 2017)

Bristol and West Archaeological Services will be recording the historic features.

Clarke Willmott are the solicitors acting for PG.

Bray and Slaughter are advising on the demolition and construction process and designs.

Stokes Croft balloon goes up

We came across this posted on Flickr by Paul Townsend

First Balloon Ascent from Bristol

The ascent from Stoke’s Croft, 24 September 1810

The crowds flocked into Bristol to witness the flight. The report in Felix Farley‘s Bristol Journal recorded how … ‘the crowd continued to increase, till the adjoining gardens, fields, and hills seemed one forest of people; arid all the windows, roofs, and the very trees, in the immediate neighbourhood, were covered with spectators.’

Sadler's balloon flightThe same report also describes in some detail the apparatus used to prepare the hydrogen with which the balloon was filled. This operation involved the familiar reaction between sulphuric acid and iron filings, but on a large scale — two and a half tons of filings were used on this occasion.

The same report also described the balloon: ‘This magnificent machine, the same in which Mr. Sadler ascended at Oxford, was made of silk, glazed or painted in ribs of green and light purple; it was about thirty yards in circumference, and the middle was enveloped by a circle, inscribed in letters of gold — Right Hon. Win. Windbam Grenville, Baro de Wotton, Cancel. Univers. Oxon.’

A watercolour of the balloon is in the City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. On the back of the drawing is written ‘Sketch by W. Edkins of the Ascent of Sadler’s Balloon from Bristol. Sadler was accompanied by Mr. Win. Clayfield. My father painted the banner held by Sadler in his Ascent. Win. Edkins Jnr.’

The fresh north-north.easterly wind carried the balloon over Leigh Down, where the acronauts dropped by parachute a small basket containing a cat. It was retrieved by a lime-burner and passed into the hands of a local doctor who appropriately christened it ‘Balloon.

They shortly passed over the coast, and recorded that as they neared Cardiff they drank the health of ‘Col. GORE and the Bristol Volunteers’. (The Volunteers had controlled the crowd while the preparations for the ascent were being made, allowing them to take place without hindrance). The balloon ‘Descended so low as to hear the shouts of the people, and the breakers between Barry and Scily Islands. (A typographic error, Sully was intended.) Fearing the main land could not be reached, and a current of air impelling the Balloon towards the sea, more ballast was thrown out, in doing which, Mr. SADLER lost his hat.’

The balloon continued its drift to mid-channel, but Sadler and Clayfield were able to check the descent by releasing a quantity of ballast. They recorded that as they neared the coast of Devon they drank ‘To all absent friends’; about half an hour later, off the small town of Linton, they again had to attempt to check the balloon’s descent.

They ‘threw out everything that could be parted with, including a great-coat, a valuable barometer, a thermometer, a speaking-trumpet, the grapling iron, — and even part of the interior covering of the Car, in the hope of reaching the main land about Barnstaple; but, owing to the exhaustion of the gas, the Balloon would not rise sufficiently . . .’ and they landed in the sea, about four miles from the land. Fortunately the event had been seen from the shore and a boat was launched immediately. It took an hour to reach them, and another two hours to completely deflate and secure the balloon.

The rescuers and rescued reached Linton at nine o’clock. An eventful day.

More details of the ascent, and the prospect of a riot on Stokes Croft when the flight was nearly cancelled, can be found in The Man With His Head in the Clouds: James Sadler, The First Englishman to Fly by Richard Smith, 2014.