Bedminster Green: the residents' plan

Published on: 29 Jan 2016

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Developer wants to work with community, but can different visions be reconciled?

There are hopes that the wide-ranging scheme for apartments, elderly accommodation, offices and a new Bedminster station can be agreed in consultation with the community.

A meeting on February 17 is set to reveal proposals from WHaM, the Windmill Hill and Malago community planning group, to produce a blueprint that can win community support.

So far many of WHaM’s requests have been accepted by Urbis – for example, opening up the Malago river, currently buried or inaccessible, to become a focal point of the area and a haven for wildlife.

However, the key question of how many buildings are planned, how high they will be and the density of the development, could prove to be sticking points.

WHaM has previously called for fewer blocks, and for heights to be lowered. Residents in Windmill Hill are upset that permission has already been granted for a 16-storey block of 188 flats at St Catherine’s precinct. Urbis plans suggest about 18 more buildings, several of between eight and 12 storeys, which could radically alter views, particularly from Windmill Hill.

WHaM will unveil details of its vision for Bedminster Green at a meeting starting at 7pm on February 17 at Windmill Hill community centre, with Urbis managing director Richard Clarke in attendance.

Chair of WHaM Howard Purse said: “At the moment we are all pretty much singing from the same hymn sheet. Urbis are very keen to listen and we hope they will try their best to action the wishes of the community.”

Mr Purse said the community group has already had the first of a series of meetings with Urbis and other stakeholders. 

“We hope our vision will inspire all concerned to work towards a new development that is inspirational and community oriented. This means dwellings that are well-designed and healthy to live in, surroundings that are stimulating and live-affirming, and a commitment to ground-breaking sustainability,” he said. 

Discussions in WHaM identified two concepts they want the Bedminster Green plans to pursue: “A Neighbourhood in a Garden” and “An Urban Village”.  

WHaM wants these principles to underpin the plans:

• Inclusive, welcoming, connected – a place to be drawn to, which attracts people; 

• Sustainable, productive, ecological – space for wildlife, the river and the planet;   

• Inspirational, creative, beautiful – a place to be proud of and to inspire; 

• Liveable, enjoyable & healthy – a place to socialise, meet and be active; 

Urbis is likely to take much of this on board. It has already made sustainable transport a central part of its planning, from a revamped railway station to Metrobus access and safe cycling and walking routes.

It is working with Avon Wildlife Trust to design riverside walkways and green spaces that will benefit wildlife.

But it regards WHaM’s earlier request for half the homes to be affordable housing as uneconomic. It is also likely that housing in the Urbis plan will be more densely packed than WHaM wants.

But, said Urbis managing director Richard Clarke, though there may be more homes planned in total than WHaM desires, they will be spacious inside.

“I believe we will be supplying more living space than any other comparable development in Bristol – bigger than the national space standards,” he said.

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