Decision about development at St Catherines, Bedminster, is delayed

At a meeting of Development Committee A on 20 November our local councillor Jon Wellington spoke in objection to the proposed St Catherines development, Bedminster. His objection statement is reproduced in full below.

Nevertheless, the development looks set to go ahead. Rather confusingly, councillors  voted to reject officers’ advice to refuse the development but then also rejected approval. The final vote was to defer the decision until the Bedminster Green strategic transport assessment is completed. One initial reason for rejecting the plans was the lack of affordable homes – 17 per cent of the 205 properties instead of the council’s target of 30 per cent – but they withdraw that after an agreement with developers the day before the meeting.

Statement to Development Committee A, Cllr Jon Wellington (Windmill Hill ward)

20th November 2019

This development and the Bedminster Green site are situated in the neighbouring ward of Southville, but the residential area most affected by this application is in Windmill Hill ward, which I represent. I support the officer’s recommendation to refuse. The reasons are made very clear in the officers report, all of which I support.

My concerns centre on height, which remains unacceptable to residents of nearby Windmill Hill, design, and transport.

The height of the main building remains the biggest problem for residents of my ward. A mid-rise development would be acceptable but we cannot endorse a 17 storey building so close to a residential area comprising primarily 2 or 3 storey high dwellings. The local community through the local planning groups (whose objections are noted in the report) have stressed repeatedly that they believe tall buildings will damage the local environment, and that mid rise would be most acceptable to create the density required to fulfill the city’s housing needs while enhancing the local neighbourhood.

In terms of design, I can only reiterate what is in the report from the City Design Group’s objections. There are a number of issues raised for each block in the plans, centring on height and a recommendation that the plan is stepped down, underprovision of public realm and outdoor space, children’s play and the proximity to Malago Road of one of the large blocks. There is clearly a need, given its size and scale for this block to be set back significantly from the road and from the pavement which this design fails to achieve.

I am also concerned that this application has come to development control committee ahead of the publication of the transport plan for the Bedminster Green area. This is explained in detail in the officers report with the statement from Transport Development Management (recommending refusal) that this application has been submitted prior to some key elements of the work being completed. As you might expect, producing a plan for a site of this size and density is complex but the requirements of the city and the community’s transport needs must take priority so that there is overall coherence to the site. There is to be public consultation on the transport plans, and I do not think we should approve applications until this process has been completed.

The further objections from Bristol Waste, The Tree Officer, The Flood Risk Team and Bristol Civic Society further strengthen the case to refuse this application.

I understand the developers’ frustration on the length of time that their application has been live. I’d also like to thank them for keeping all local councillors informed of their plans. However, this is a major development that will change this area of Bedminster significantly. These buildings could be with us for 100 years, so it is right that the local authority are not rushed into decisions that could have a lasting effect on the local area. I want to see this area developed by this developer, but it has to be something that local people can get along with.