A DEVELOPER has applied for permission to build 66 new homes on the site of the former Bristol Uniforms factory in Staple Hill – but says it can’t afford to make any of them ‘affordable’.
Woodstock Homes wants to demolish the factory, built by Wathen Gardiner more than a century ago, and build four apartment buildings containing 14 one-bedroom and 52 two-bedroom flats.
Only the old factory’s landmark gatehouse building, fronting on to Wathen Street between Victoria Street and Beaufort Road, would be kept and refurbished for use as “employment workspaces”.
The planning application says none of the homes would be ‘affordable’ – available for social rent or shared-ownership schemes – despite council guidelines that 23 of them, 35% of the total, should be.
Agents Stokes Morgan said a financial viability assessment had found that “abnormal costs due to the need to demolish and rebuild” on the brownfield site meant that the developer stood to lose £525,830 if it had to make 23 homes affordable.
Their planning statement added: “Only by reducing the affordable housing to 0% provision does the resulting land value improve to make the scheme deliverable.”
The agents said “extensive marketing” of the site for more than a year had seen no “firm interest” in commercial reuse of the buildings.
They said the plans are a “better solution” to the national housing shortage than greenfield housing and would help support the nearby high street shops.
The agents say the 58 parking spaces proposed, two of which would be for visitors, are below the minimum guidelines of one space per one-bed home and 1.5 per two-bed home, together with one visitor space per five homes, which would equate to 105 spaces.
They say a pre-application enquiry to the council indicated a reduction of up to 25% on the standard parking requirement “could be acceptable”.
As the Voice went to print, ten objections to the plans had been made to South Gloucestershire Council, on grounds including increased traffic, insufficient parking, overdevelopment, loss of employment space and loss of a heritage asset.
One Beaufort Road resident said the three to four-storey buildings “will result in total loss of privacy for myself and all the surrounding neighbours”, adding: “Since the other new flats have been built in Beaufort Road, we have noticed a large increase in traffic and on-street parking clogging up Beaufort Road, so further building local to this area this will choke the roads.”
Another neighbour said: “Sixty-six properties is too many for a small space.”
The plans can be viewed on the South Gloucestershire Council planning website, by searching for application P23/02908/F.