Bedminster framework plan unveiled

Published on: 03 Sep 2015

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THE FIRST phase of consultation ends during September for an ambitious, £100 million redevelopment of a large slice of Bedminster.

Known as the Bedminster Framework area, it includes a complete redesign of Bedminster station to link it to a stop on the forthcoming Metrobus route.

More controversially, it also includes 18 or more residential blocks – some possibly 10 storeys or more – containing around 800 homes. 

The plans are only an outline, and developer Urbis is adapting them in reaction to comments from the public and other interested parties including the business group Bedminster Town Team and residents.

Consultation has already taken place with numerous groups around Bedminster and concludes this month with a presentation to Windmill Hill neighbourhood forum on September 9.

Around a quarter of the homes will be affordable housing. Most will be one, two and three bedroom flats but there will also be three and four bedroom town houses.

Parking will be provided at the rate of 75 spaces for every 100 homes. This is less than the limit usually allowed by Bristol City Council, but Urbis believes that many residents will walk, cycle or use the nearby train or Metrobus, or an onsite car club.

The site – shown in red on the aerial photo and divided into four major plots – is mainly underused former industrial land between Whitehouse Lane and East Street. The Urbis plans are a radical change, and residents on the BS3 group have expressed concern about the number of homes and the height of the buildings.

Urbis managing director  Richard Clarke told the South Bristol Voice that the scheme will contain tall buildings and is  intended to be high density. The flip side, he said, is that it allows ambitious elements that will reduce carbon emissions and improve the urban environment.

The Malago river will be transformed from a deep and often invisible ditch to an attractive feature of the landscape with a riverside walk.

Urbis is working with Avon Wildlife Trust to create vibrant green areas that link together.

“We want to greatly increase biodiversity by using rain gardens [planted areas that help capture rainfall and channel it away] to encourage different plants and soften the urban environment,” said Mr Clarke.

The plan also envisages a district heating scheme, made possible by the compact site.

“These homes will be heated in a way that reduces the CO2 emissions by about 65-70 per cent compared with a conventional gas boiler,” he said.

Room sizes will also be larger than the current standard.

The proposals released so far do not make clear exactly what is proposed for each plot.

This, Mr Clarke said, is partly because the plans are in outline and are being altered as comments come in. Plot 1, the largest plot, will contain three or four major buildings, perhaps 10 storeys in part, and the district energy centre. Comments about the density and height will lead to changes, Mr Clarke said.

One of the biggest changes will be to public transport.

The main entrance to Bedminster station will be moved from Windmill Hill to the Whitehouse Lane side of the tracks with a new ticket hall. Whitehouse Lane will be realigned away from the station to create a plaza with shops and cafe seating. Hereford Street will become pedestrianised, and new walkways and cycle lanes will create a redesigned route to Windmill Hill City Farm.

The green opposite will make a feature of the Malago – curently buried in a culvert – to make a water feature. 

The scheme is so large and complex it will be split into about eight planning applications.

The first, for Plot 1, could be submitted in late September once the consultation is complete. Further consultation will follow for each application. 

Windmill Hill Green party councillor Deb Joffe said she was disappointed about the visual  impact and precedent that the St Catherine’s tower will have.

“But I also recognise the acute need for house building. The rest of the Bedminster Green plans seem to me to be acceptable and will enhance the area overall.

“The transport links and improved access to Bedminster station are very welcome and, together with the district heating plan, are essential responses to our  environmental needs.”

But, she added, there will still be a need for homes that are genuinely affordable to people earning minimum wage. So-called affordable rents are set at 80 per cent of market rents, which are rising, she said.

At Windmill Hill City Farm, chief executive Steve Sayers said: “This is potentially a really exciting development. 

“However, it will need to be carried out with a great deal of sensitivity and the full support of local people.”

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