Yarn bombers object to Bedminster towers

August 26 2016

DEVELOPER Urbis says it wants its housing plots on Bedminster Green to meet the council’s full target for 30 per cent of homes to be affordable.

Yarn bombers on Bedminster Green

But its boss warned that to achieve this, buildings will have to be taller than neighbours want.

The news came as Windmill Hill residents took over the small green in front of Bedminster station on August 13 to highlight fears that the area will be covered by high-rise blocks. 

Members of community group WHaM yarn-bombed the trees and handed out leaflets. 

“We need family housing, not flats which get bought up for buy-to-let,” said organiser Rebecca Porter. 

“Ten-storey tower blocks do not create a community,” said another resident, Anya.

Clifton-based Urbis has an agreement with the council to draw up a framework plan for Bedminster Green. It envisages 800 homes in blocks of up to 12 storeys with shops, a revamped railway station and open spaces, and a newly-revealed Malago river.

Residents in next-door Windmill Hill, however, have shown they do not want to see tower blocks (see article above).

But Urbis managing director Richard Clarke said tall buildings are the only way to provide the housing Bristol needs.

“Go to any major city in the UK and you will see [new] high-rise everywhere,” he said.

He expects to submit a planning application for a district energy centre, capable of heating 2,000 homes, in early September. This has also met opposition from neighbours as it is powered by gas, a fossil fuel.

Mr Clarke said the new plant would be much more efficient and have lower emissions than if each home had its own boiler. It will also pay for grants for new boilers and other work to 20 homes each year which can’t be connected to the district heating system, he said.

Last month Urbis lost a bidding war for control of Plot 1, the part of the site between Hereford Street and the railway. It was bought by a consortium including Bristol builder Paul O’Brien, who proposes a 10-storey building with 221 flats.

It is not clear if the O’Brien plan would include any affordable housing.

Mr Clarke said Urbis wants all of its plots to aim for 30 per cent of homes to be affordable.

“If we had been able to get to 20 storeys on St Catherine’s Place [the nearby block approved at 16 storeys in 2015] we could have had 30 per cent affordable housing there,” he said.