Residents outline objections to £85million retirement complex for Westbury as planning application lodged

An action group have deemed the project a ‘vast overdevelopment’

An action group formed over opposition to the build of a retirement complex in Bristol say they intend to fight the ‘inappropriate’ development all the way after a planning application for the £85million project was submitted this week.

The FORE Partnership wants to create a ‘net zero’ retirement hub on the site of St Christopher’s, a former special needs school, in Westbury Park and on Monday (March 14) announced it had lodged a planning application with Bristol City Council following a seven-month consultation.

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The firm say that the scheme will provide 122 ‘extra care’ homes housed in a collection of multi-storey apartment blocks while opening up the ‘shut off’ space to the community by creating a cafe, urban village hall and sensory garden.

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The complex would be fossil fuel free, generating up to 25% of its energy needs on-site through solar panels, and be built using low carbon construction techniques and materials.

St Christopher’s Action Network, who are opposing a development on the site of a former special needs school in Westbury Park.

But some residents have objected to the development from the off, their main qualm being that the three-to-six storey apartment blocks will be too high, dwarfing nearby homes and ‘overwhelming’ the area.

The St Christopher’s Action Network have been campaigning against the development since September last year.

They claim that while FORE made changes to its application off the back of feedback received from residents during the consultation, these have been ‘minimal’.

They say includes reducing one of the apartment blocks from four to three storeys high, while the number of units planned for the site increased from 121 to 122.

The five-acre site was previously home to St Christopher’s, a special needs school.

Speaking on behalf of the group, resident Francesca Kay said: “We are disappointed with the final plans to Bristol City Council, despite the high volume of feedback from our community who have a clear message that the size and scale of this scheme is completely unacceptable. These views have not been adopted in the plans.

“It remains a vast overdevelopment, with too many people crammed into too many blocks of flats that are too high and will have a worrying impact on road safety, traffic and parking.

An artist’s impression of what the new development could look like should it be given the green light.

“When the formal objection process opens, we anticipate a vast number of objections from people who are seeking a more sensitive and appropriate development.”

A spokesperson for FORE said that St Christopher’s Square will offer ‘the highest levels of sustainability, health and wellbeing’, and that it had ‘been designed to fit well within the local area’.

The proposals would also see the refurbishment of existing heritage buildings on the site, including the Victorian villas facing the Downs.

The development would consist of a collection of two storey cottages and four three- to six-storey buildings, providing 122 ‘extra care’ homes.

Basil Demeroutis, managing partner at FORE, said: “We are committed to delivering stand-out projects that uphold the highest standards of environmental sustainability, whilst driving significant positive social value.

“As the first net zero carbon later living development for Bristol and one of the first in the UK, St Christopher’s Square will pave the way for a new generation of ultra-sustainable, later living communities for older people across the country.”