Social housing 'missing' in affordable homes scheme

July 01 2021
Social housing 'missing' in affordable homes scheme

Dozens of new “affordable” homes are set to replace a former health centre and betting shop in South Bristol.

By Amanda Cameron, LDRS reporter for South Bristol Voice

Councillors have unanimously approved plans for a V-shaped block of 36 affordable-rent flats at the corner of St John’s Lane and Wedmore Vale in Bedminster.

They welcomed the revised scheme from housing association United Communities on June 9, saying it would “blend in” and make good use of the derelict site, but expressed regret it would provide no social homes.

The St John’s Lane Health Centre has been empty since the Wedmore Practice moved to the Marksbury Road Surgery in 2018.

Likewise, the betting store closed down in 2019 and has been vacant ever since.

Both buildings will be demolished to make way for the apartment block, which has two wings folding back from the entrance at the corner of the junction.

The apartments, which range from one- to six-bedroom, will be spread across four storeys.

A CGI of the new approved plans for the affordable homes development on the corner of St John's Lane and Wedmore Vale, Bedminster

Earlier plans, approved in May last year, did not include the former betting shop site and would have provided 29 affordable homes.

United has promised all 36 apartments in the expanded scheme will be affordable, the planning meeting heard. But only 11 – a policy-compliant 30 per cent – have been secured “in perpetuity” by Section 106 agreement.

Green councillor Tony Dyer said: “Normally if I see a development that has 100 per cent affordable housing, I’m slightly overjoyed. However, it does seem as if we’re missing some social rent housing here.

“That is a shame. Sometimes we do seem to be getting affordable housing which isn’t necessarily affordable for a large proportion of our population.”

Only six members of the public commented on the proposals, five of whom objected, an officer said. Their main concerns were related to the size of the development, its impact on local parking and traffic, and the amount of parking provided.

There will be room for 14 cars to park at the rear of the building, and 59 bicycle spaces will be provided, the meeting heard.

The car parking provision is an improvement on the eight spaces United would have provided under the earlier scheme, a Bristol City Council officer said.

The housing association will provide £10,000 towards a car club and make a contribution towards a travel plan to reduce car use, he said.

The planning officer said the department was satisfied the building would not block neighbours’ sunlight or harm their privacy to an unacceptable degree.

Labour councillor Fabian Breckels said he was concerned the rear of the building would end up covered in graffiti, but the officer said materials could be used to deter vandalism.

Cllr Breckels said: “Expanding the scheme to clear a derelict site is an improvement and we get more parking and I rather like the modern design.

“Apart from my concerns about the facades at the back, I do rather like the design and it’ll blend in.”