Anger over plans for multi-storey car park
September 07 2020
The proposed multi-storey car park development in Little Paradise is causing uproar amongst local residents.
by Charley Rogers
The site, which runs alongside Church Lane in Bedminster, and is adjacent to the St Catherine’s Court assisted living facility, is currently an open-air car park, surrounded by trees and residential buildings.
The proposal from Bristol City Council to bring in property developer Dandara to build the multi-storey car park is detrimental to the area, argue the residents, and there are many other options to help drive the regeneration of nearby East Street.
The car park would be part of a wider development of 316 flats in a series of tower blocks and apartment blocks, as much as 16 storeys high.
This development has also attracted widespread criticism from local people who say 'building tower blocks is not the answer'.
“It’s important to point out that none of us are against the regeneration of East Street,” says Church Lane resident Naomi Berry. “We would love to see East Street thriving again, but there are so many better ways to do it.”
Church Lane resident James Jackson is also concerned about the proposed development.“Not only will it block the light for residents in St Catherine’s Court,” he says,“but it will have an environmental impact too.
"We should be discouraging driving, not making more space for it.”
The businesses that are thriving on East Street are independents, argues James, and they are popular with locals who are much more likely to walk or cycle to the shops than to drive a long way to get there.
“This is a huge redemption opportunity for the council to launch a green project,” says Naomi.“Bristol is supposed to be the green capital of the UK, and yet there’s not a lot to show for that. This could be a great way to boost eco-living in Bedminster.”
Residents of St Catherine’s Court are just as irked about the plan.“I don’t understand how this fits into the anti-car plans supposedly going on in Bristol,” says Bill Jefferies, who has lived in St Catherine’s Court for three-and-a-half years.“What about the air quality? This car park will just encourage more cars, not fewer.”
The height of the new car park would also block off the light to much of St Catherine’s Court, something that both the residents of the building and their neighbours are concerned about. One resident of St Catherine’s commented that it seems as though the council have“forgotten about[them].”
Residents also claim that appeals to the council have not been effective.“We had one consultation with the council here,” says Bill,“where we raised our concerns, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve listened.”
However, aside from their objection to the car park, residents are also upset at the way the proposal has been executed.“The ability to leave a comment on the planning portal requires access to the internet, and a valid email address,” says James,“which shuts out a huge part of the population.”
James and his partner Laura have been helping neighbours on the street who don’t have email addresses to leave comments, and are now offering to do so for residents of St Catherine’s Court.
This is an opportunity to put the ‘green’ in Bedminster Green, says James, but instead the proposed plans will just increase noise and air pollution.
Naomi is also concerned about the trees that line the existing site.“[The developers] are planning to dig them up, but they’re very established trees and the roots are subterranean – I very much doubt they would survive to be moved.”
A Bristol City Council spokesperson said:“The consultation for the proposed changes to Little Paradise car park has now closed. An application over whether or not to grant planning permission will now be considered by the Development Control Committee.
“In terms of local engagement, Cllr Nicola Beech, Cabinet member for Spatial Planning and City Design, wrote to local residents who live around the immediate vicinity of the current Little Paradise Car Park to make sure they had the information first, offering meetings to discuss the plans. We then went on to hold two consultation events to discuss the replacement car park, river restoration and transport improvements.
“The wider engagement saw 5,000 postcards issued to residents in the wider area, and the two public engagement events took place on 2 and 5 March and both events were well attended. This engagement drew attention to the forthcoming planning application, available on the Bristol City Council planning portal, where people can also give their views.”
Dandara has been contacted for comment.