Cold War nuclear bunker in Brislington to be given new life as part of 160-home plan approved

The plans will transform the neglected Grade II-listed Bristol War Room

Plans to demolish vacant offices, build 160 homes and bring a Cold War nuclear bunker back into use have been approved.

Bristol city councillors granted permission unanimously on the advice of officers after hearing the outline proposals to redevelop the former DWP buildings and driving test centre in Flowers Hill, Brislington, met all planning policies and had received no objections.

Bristol War Room at the ex-DWP offices and driving test centre site in Flowers Hill, Brislington

A key part of the scheme by London property company Telereal Trillium is to breathe new life into the neglected Grade II-listed Bristol War Room by giving it a community or commercial use, development control committee members heard.

The shelter was built in 1953 to “protect the functions of regional government from the atomic bomb and to coordinate civil defence”, a report to councillors said.

It said: “The proposed uses for the War Room, in principle, are acceptable for the listed building.

“The most significant concern in relation to the War Room is the wider site and masterplan achieving an appropriate layout, scale and appearance so that the historic setting isn’t compromised.

The design plans for the ex-DWP offices.

“The building will need to be properly integrated within the overall development and not relegated to a back corner where it could become forgotten and a target for antisocial behaviour.

“The retention of the War Room for employment purposes, as either a commercial or community use, would overall be beneficial as it would retain some job opportunities in the area.”

A planning officer told the City Hall meeting on Wednesday, March 16, that these details would be agreed at a later date because the outline application was to determine only the site’s access at this stage.

He said nine per cent of the homes would be classed as affordable, which was the amount required when vacant buildings were redeveloped in the area.

Brislington West ward Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Varney told members the plans made good use of a brownfield site and that the developers had taken on the community’s suggestion for a footpath and cycleway linking Flowers Hill and Hungerford Road, which requires a separate planning application.

Committee chairman Tory Cllr Richard Eddy said: “This is policy compliant, it meets every need. “I’m delighted to see the War Room refurbished and used. We are going to see additional public access and we will see that cycleway, which is all positive.

An aerial photo of the ex-DWP offices and driving test centre site.

“Not one person has opposed, and 160 affordable homes in Brislington has got to be good news.”

Green Cllr Ed Plowden said: “There is a lot to like about this. The only disappointing thing is nine per cent affordable housing seems low, although I know that’s policy.

“I would like to see the applicants doing better because nine per cent is scraping past the bare minimum affordability and seems a pity.”

Labour Cllr Steve Pearce said: “All of my concerns have been addressed. I’m pleased to see housing in Brislington.”