The yuppification of inner city Bristol?

Change is afoot in central Bristol.

In St. Paul’s and along Stokes Croft more and more new buildings are going up, and shall continue to go up, should the many planning applications submitted to the council be approved. Many of these are being marketed as upscale ‘apartments’ or as aspirational ‘loftspaces’. Even where social housing providers are getting in on the land grab, it is not to offer true social housing with affordable rents, but instead to build shared ownership properties – despite there being no proven demand for it from tenants locally.

Furthermore, many of these developments will mean the demolition of existing amenities used by local people – and whilst our new neighbours may indeed be attracted to the vibrant culture of St. Paul’s, experience often teaches us how that initial attraction often quickly develops into demands for our clubs to be quieter, for our community pubs to be turned into style bars more to their taste, for us to be less visible in order to make their ‘living experience’ more enjoyable.

So exactly what is being proposed?

A brief wander round, and a quick look at the council website’s planning application section, suggests that whilst some of this may not end up happening, or if it does happen, then not straight away, there’s a whole swathe of developments finished, nearing completion or else in the pipeline:

* BS2 Apartments – 20 yuppie “lofts” in the old DSS(?) building by the Caring At Christmas shelter on Wilder Street – built for/by Logic CPS Ltd.

* Frontline Studios being remixed into ‘Balloon Court’, a 12 apartment development courtesy of estate agents Connells

* An application submitted by J Divine Civil Engineering Ltd (which I cannot find on the Companies House web database) and their agents Andrew Wotton Associates seeks the “demolition of existing nightclub building [4-10 Stokes Croft, BS1 3PR – Casablanca/Clockwork is 6-10, I believe] and erection of 5 storey buildings to provide 12 apartments, 2 commercial units, bin store & bike store” (planning application reference: ref 06/04949/f).

* A while ago there was an application to change the consent on 40-48 Stokes Croft (units 2 & 3 – Radhika/RJ’s Pound Plus) from shop to bar/restaurant (if memory serves)…

* Across the street, behind Target Electronics, and then also opposite the bus station, there are the big Unite student complexes, Blenheim Court and Cherry Court (two of eight across Bristol).

* A bit along from Cherry Court on King Square Avenue is Atkins Walters Webster’s King Square Apartments development for Crown Dilmun (“the home of inspirational living” – also involved in ‘Redcliffe Village’, ‘Clifton Promenade’ and ‘Royal Parade’ in Bristol), which is pretty much complete – that’s 66 apartments with parking and retail space.

* Next door Woodstock Homes is working on Centro, a development being sold on its location near the heart of the city, and on “the vibrancy of the local area”. When finished, this will tot up another 22 “luxury new apartments”.

* Knightstone Housing Association has bought the Backfields Industrial Estate (opposite Lakota) and wants to turn it into 60 shared ownership (ie not full social housing) plus commercial/office units, and stick another 6 houses on Brunswick Street.

* Meanwhile, Sandy Lane Construction is already building 4 townhouses next door on Brunswick Street.

* Further down the road, there’s another application application by Knightstone to knock down 38-48 Brigstocke Road (48 is opposite River Nile) and stick up 20 flats (amended from 22 flats since application initially viewed on 14th December). It’s not yet clear whether these will be for rent or for shared ownership.

* Opposite Lakota, from its offices at 30-35 Upper York Street, Portland Apartments is building up a portfolio of “the finest bristol serviced apartments” – so far mostly in Clifton, by the harbour etc, but also in Portland Square. Who knows how much more property in St. Paul’s and the surrounding area they may be tempted to buy into as the Broadmead expansion and assorted yuppie developments get underway…

* And the plan for Lakota itself, and the coroner’s court (aka Peckham town hall), is to demolish the club and the extension between the two buildings, remodel the court into 22 residential units, and create 36 “residential apartments” plus office space, basement car park and commercial space suitable for cafe/bar/restaurant use on the Lakota site (planning application reference: 06/05020/f, 06/05017/lc & 06/05019/la). It’s being handled by Stride Treglown, which has an office up in Clifton, on behalf of Lakota Development LLC, which has its registered office in Sherbourne (Dorset).

Other larger developments in the general vicinity applying for consent include:

* 24 new flats on Station Road, Montpelier (agent: Pegasus Planning Group; planning application reference: 06/04042/f) (application now withdrawn)

* 200 new flats, arts centre & basement parking at Westmoreland House on Stokes Croft (appplicant: Opecprime Development Ltd; agent: Design West (Mark Lees); planning application reference: 06/04494/f)

* 34 new apartments & 3 “affordable dwellings” on the derelict petrol station at 17-29 Lower Ashley Road (appplicant: Dominion Housing Group; agent: GVA Grimley LLP; planning application reference: 06/04539/f)

* 24 new flats plus basement parking & 420sq m office space at 31-45 Lower Ashley Road (appplicant: Reading House Ltd; agent: LPC (Trull) Ltd; planning application reference: 06/04740/p)

I’m not saying all these developments are bad, nor good. but there’s a hell of a lot of change being planned at the moment, and not too much ‘consultation’. Any of these plans in isolation might be brilliant; but taken together, and the possibility exists for a fundamental change in the character of the area around St. Paul’s and Stokes Croft.

When there are 500+ new (for the most part relatively well-off) residents in the area, with their video door entryphones, gated parking, privately-contracted waste management, higher council tax bands and estate agent jargonised new neighbourhood names (‘Agnes Village’? ‘Stokes Pauls’?), do you think there will be room left for noisy, slightly scuzzy, cheap thrills?

Lest we forget – 51º02.
(Originally blogged on MySpace; amended: 19th December 2006)

2 responses to “Yuppification

  1. Pingback: PRSC Says: Stop the yuppie developments! Save Lakota! « Bristle’s Blog from the BunKRS

  2. Pingback: Pity the fool « Bristle’s Blog from the BunKRS

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