As of early July 2014, Fifth Capital have started showing their proposals including to the St Pauls Unlimited Planning Group. They aim to leaflet 5000 local households with details in mid-July and hold a public exhibition in late July.
The emerging proposals
We understand that the plans will include:
- The demolition and redevelopment of Westmoreland House. The new building will be lower than existing on the Stokes Croft frontage, but it will be higher at the back
- 116 residential units, totalling 8,220 sqm
- 686 sqm of non-residential space – mostly retail units along Stokes Croft and round the corner to Ashley Road
- There is no information on the proportion of affordable housing
- There is no route through the site but there is an open space area for the use of residents
How do the proposals compare to the Community Vision?
The Carriageworks Community Vision was approved by CAG in 2012 after extensive public consultation. It has since been approved by Bristol City Council.
Based on current information, it looks like the Fifth Capital proposals will:
- Address the dereliction of the site
- Have active uses on the Stokes Croft frontage
- Have residential on the upper floors
- Restore the Carriageworks
However, it is not clear if the proposals:
- Will make a positive contribution to the economy, culture and environment of Stokes Croft the surrounding area
- Will include flexible, accessible spaces for a range of activities that contribute to the vitality and character of the local area
- Will create new open and inclusive spaces, such as a route through the site
- Will have units for active uses inside the site, with a range of sizes that are viable for local businesses and managed to ensure a good mix at all times
- Will have a range of housing sizes and tenures including social housing
- Will not be a gated community
- Include a “just adequate” amount of car parking
- Will make any use of the rooftops for gardens and biodiversity
Who will develop the site?
Fifth Capital have told us that they will develop the site themselves i.e. they will provide the funding, appoint contractors and market the finished units. However the history of urban development is littered with developers who have said this but, once they have gained planning permission, have sold the undeveloped site to someone else with different ideas and a different ethos. Fifth Capital and Marc Pennick have not given us any evidence that they have ever developed a site themselves.
Who will manage the site in the long term?
Our great concern is that Fifth Capital will not provide any information about how the site will be managed in the future. They simply say that there will be a management company. We don’t know if this company will be one that is locally controlled and that manages the site to benefit the wider community, or if it will be an investor who simply aims to get maximum returns by letting to the big multiples.
This is not a planning issue so the planners won’t be able to take it into account. But it is an issue for the community. The choice of manager will make a massive difference to how the site impacts on the local area.
Have they submitted a planning application?
No, not yet. They are currently in a community involvement stage. They plan to submit a planning application in September / October and hope for a decision in January.