Dismay at tower plan for Bedminster Green

Published on: 29 Jul 2016

NEIGHBOURS have reacted in dismay after they were shown proposals for developing Plot 1, one of the most significant sites on Bedminster Green, with blocks of flats of between eight and 10 storeys.

Members of WHaM, the Windmill Hill and Malago residents’ planning group, fear that if the plan is allowed to go ahead it will set a precedent for the rest of the sprawling Bedminster Green area, which is all earmarked for redevelopment.

Developer Paul O’Brien won a bidding war to buy the site of the former Pring & St Hill steel plant, which closed in 2003.

The site was granted planning permission in 2007 for 183 flats in up to five storeys along with shops, a café and parking, but this permission has now lapsed.

Paul O’Brien is now understood to want to put in a scheme for 221 flats in blocks of up to 10 storeys with parking on the ground floor. It is not clear if any social or affordable housing would be included. The density of homes would be more than 300 per hectare – very high compared to the terraced streets of much of South Bristol.

“We are very disappointed,” Howard Purse, chair of WHaM, told South Bristol Voice after members were shown the plans. “It’s a massive block which is completely out of keeping with the surroundings.

“Our big fear is that it’s going to end up as a precedent for the whole thing” [the Bedminster Green area].

WHaM members fear there will be no social housing and say the block is a poor design and the density is too high. Members also criticised the ground floor car park, which means the street scene along Malago Road will be blank at pavement level. 

Mr Purse said the developer had asked to hear WHaM’s views, and had said they would be taken into account in drawing up a planning application. But he fears that the bidding war for the land has forced the price up so high that only a large, high-density development will be profitable.

The Voice asked to see the proposals which were shown to WHaM but these were not available as we went to press. The sale of the Pring & St Hill site will not disrupt the master brief prepared for Bedminster Green by developer Urbis, according to Urbis managing director Richard Clarke.

The Urbis scheme was prepared under a memorandum of understanding with the council. It envisages a new Bedminster station and a range of housing, workplaces , health facilities and commercial spaces across the site, with student and elderly accommodation among about 800 homes.

Mr Clarke told the Voice he still expects to put in a planning application for the first phase of this scheme, comprising a district energy centre to provide heat and electricity for 2,000 homes, in August.

He expects construction of the energy centre – at the far end of Plot 1, at the Lidl end of Malago Road – to start in early 2017.

Urbis also expects to start consultation on another site, Plot 5, around the Hereford Street car park, to begin this year, with a planning application to include the new station plaza to be made before Christmas.

Urbis is in negotiation to buy the land for the energy centre from Paul O’Brien. Both sides have confirmed to the Voice that a deal is being discussed.

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