Who is the new developer for Bristol Carriageworks?

Carriageworks facadeThe Carriageworks has a new developer!  Following much recent speculation the Carriageworks Action Group has confirmed that the new developer is the Bristol based PG Group. PG have exchanged contracts with Opecprime (aka Comer Homes) to purchase the freehold of the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site and aim to start building in January.

Stuart Gaiger, PG Group Development Director, said: PG Group logo - new developer of Carriageworks“The PG Group has acquired the site from Opecprime Properties Ltd with the benefit of the planning consent granted in July last year, and will now start work on a wide range of preliminary assessments,”

Gaiger went on to say that purchase of the site would allow the creation of a development that could contribute positively to an already vibrant community. “We want to deliver an enterprising development that respects and reflects the community ethos and, given the independent spirit that flourishes around the area, we look forward to some lively and interesting discussions.”

Lori Streich, Chair of Carriageworks Action Group, said: “We welcome this news that PG Group are buying the Carriageworks and Westmoreland House site. For over 25 years the communities adjoining Stokes Croft have lived with the neglect and dereliction. As a local developer we hope that PG Group will have the skill and commitment to deliver a development of which the community can be proud”.

Stuart Gaiger and his colleagues from the PG Group will be attending a Community Meeting on Wednesday 14 June, 6pm at the Kings Centre, King Square where they will say more about their plans and proposals to get the development going.

2MD’s Role with Carriageworks Action Group

2MD Regeneration has been facilitating and advising the Carriageworks Action Group(CAG) since it was formed in 2011.

  • We coordinated the consultation and writing of the Community Vision, published in 2012, which was subsequently adopted by Bristol City Council and became the ‘moral high ground’ for all proposals for the site.
  • We supported CAG and provided technical advice while the City Council started compulsory purchase (CPO) proceedings in 2012/13, culminating in the appointment of Knightstone as the preferred developer. However, the site owners then granted an option to purchase to London based Fifth Capital. This put the CPO process onto hold and Knightstone subsequently withdrew. Fifth Capital submitted a planning application in 2014.
  • We provided critique and commentary on the proposals which attracted 1400 objections and a referral by the Planning Committee back to the applicant with an instruction that they work with CAG to address a range of shortcomings. Fifth Capital, to their credit, then constructively engaged with CAG and this resulted in planning permission being granted in October 2015.
  • Since then we have supported CAG in its ongoing discussions with Fifth Capital, keeping the pressure on to ensure that the scheme did not grind to a halt amidst funding challenges.
  • Fifth Capital have now been replaced by the PG Group. We continue to support and advise CAG to help ensure that the development delivers the best outcomes for the local community.


Who is PG Group?

What are PG Group’s plans and timescale?

What’s happened to Fifth Capital?

Carriageworks gets planning permission

Just over four years ago residents and businesses based around the long derelict Carriageworks  in Stokes Croft, Bristol asked 2MD to help them prepare a Community Consultation on Stokes Croft, Dec 2011Vision for the site. Over 1400 people got involved and by early 2012 the Vision had been published to much aclaim and adopted by the Council.

We were then asked to support the community (by then working as the Carriageworks Action Group) to engage in the Council’s compulsory purchase process and help find a developer for the site. That was all going to plan until early 2014 when a company called Fifth Capital London emerged saying they had an option to buy the site.

communityworksIn an atmosphere of strong distrust we were, for a long time, fighting each other. CAG and other local groups organised over 1400 objections to their planning application which we dissected from every possible angle. So when it went to the Planning Committee in April 2015 the developer was in for a rough ride.  As one Councillor described the scheme: “Only its mother could love it”! At the end of the meeting the developer was told to go off, improve the proposals and, importantly, to work with CAG.

Since then there has been a bizarre turn around.  Marc Pennick, the owner of Fifth Captial, has developed a genuinely positive working relationship with CAG, we’ve enabled him to speak to way more people than he had previously, we have been suggesting and nudging him to make changes that will gain favour locally, he has listened and he has made significant changes to his scheme. We haven’t got everything (affordable and social housing is still less than we’d like) but it is so much better.

Godwin_yard_entranceBy the time the scheme went to the Planning Committee last night CAG was in support and people were praising the process and our work: “It seems like there is a will on all sides to engage in conversation for the benefit of the area, which is rare”, “CAG has done amazing exemplary work to bring the Community Vision to fruition. It really has been amazing  work – the kind of stuff we should be looking at for all major developments in Bristol”, “Normally the developer comes back with only notional change. That’s not happened here. My gasp was well and truly flabbered.” On the radio this morning Marc Pennick said “we’re going to work with CAG and the local community, we’re going to keep working on these plans and we’re going to keep making them better.”

So it looks like a site that has blotted the landscape of Bristol for over 25 years is finally to be redeveloped. It’s great that positive community engagement by the developer is being credited with massive improvements to the scheme, as acknowledged by everyone involved.  And it’s great for 2MD to have been at the centre of that achievement. We’re now looking forward to working on the detail and securing all the benefits for the local area.  And after that…?!

Artists are the developer’s baromoter

It’s not an original comment, but you know that an area has reached rock bottom when the artists move in.  And from there the only way is up.

The theory of course is that an area gets run down, businesses close, residents move away and property prices fall.  Some people only see the litter strewn streets, vandalised and derelict buildings, street drinkers, grime, crime and despair. But others see it as opportunity.

At the turn of the century Stokes Croft in Bristol was down on its luck. A brief renaissance in the 90s led by the club culture (notably Lakota) seemed to have stalled and it was back to being dominated by the traffic of the A38, ever more homeless hostels and ever more hopelessness.

At this same time though things did start to happen. Banksy had already used one flank wall for his ‘mild mild west’ painting and this attracted more urban artists looking for large and prominent canvases upon which to show their work. The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft took up residence and gave a new, if controversial, voice to the self proclaimed cultural quarter of Bristol. Cafes started to open, the nightlife took off again, small businesses started up and a vibe took hold.

For the last 10 years or so things have gradually improved to the extent that the Sunday Times on 8 March 2015 declared Bristol and especially Stokes Croft as one of the top ten places to live in the UK.

But maybe the pendulum is starting to swing too far.  The imminent opening of the US style dining chain Meat Liquor sets a new commercial tone in the area and recently a London developer has submitted unpopular proposals to build 118 flats with fears that this will introduce an exclusive gated community into the midst of the artists, students and urban trendies.

But what attracts the big money to Stokes Croft? It can only have been the artists.  Moving into the semi-derelict environment they have set a new tone, attracted young and adventurous people and made it the stylish place to be. That of course attracts people with more money who seek to buy their style simply through association. And that eventually attracts the property developers.  Really, the developers ought to be paying the artists a commission.

Carriageworks: Vision to Reality

photo of Carriageworks and Westmoreland House

A developer has finally been found for the Carriageworks!

The Carriageworks and Westmoreland House in Bristol have been derelict for 27 years.  Owned by a London property company they were a blot on the landscape for many years, although more recently they have become a gallery for the many street artists working in the Stokes Croft area.

Photo of Rickshaw from Pedal Walla

In 2011 the Carriageworks Action Group was formed to try to bring the site and building back into active use.  2MD was selected to work with the local community to design and run a major consultation event that featured a branded rickshaw, voxpop and mass participation on the street, and attracted 1600 respondents.  Emerging from that consultation was the Community Vision that has been widely praised for its process and its, well, vision.

Photo of second phase of consultation on Stokes Croft

Of course, a vision alone is merely a dream so we then had to move to the next stage of turning it into action.  Since 2012 we’ve been working with CAG and Bristol City Council to go through the process of finding a developer for the site who will provide a scheme that may, if needs be, support the compulsory purchase of the site.  This has been a rather tortuous process governed by procurement law and the requirements of ‘competitive dialogue’.  Nevertheless, with everyone working together towards a common aim, we have managed to bring activism and regulations together and last night the developer going through to work up the scheme was selected.

Knightstone Housing Association is based in the area, has a track record of tackling complex inner city sites, and is committed to working with the local community to bring forward a successful development.

We’ll now be working with CAG, the City Council and Knightstone to design the next stage of consultation that will be taking place over the summer, engaging the community in the site designs and taking the Vision that much closer to final implementation.

Mike Day, Director of Development and Homeownership at Knightstone said; “We’re really pleased to have been invited to submit a final tender for this project. We’re committed to working with the local community to ensure that we can deliver a development that meets their needs. This is an exciting opportunity, which could allow us to build on the excellent work we’ve been doing with the City Council on regeneration projects in Bristol”

Lori Streich, Chair of the Carriageworks Action Group, said: “We’re very proud of this example of real community engagement. People in the community have the expertise, enthusiasm andinnovation that is needed to make a relevant contribution to a scheme.We are faced with a creatively demanding challenge around what shouldcertainly be one of Bristol’s most iconic settings.”