Trinity Centre boss warns flats plan for old police station could ‘lead to closure’ of popular venue

Big names to recently play at the centre include arena-headlining artist Sam Fender

Plans to build a block of flats just 50 yards away from Bristol’s Trinity Community Arts Centre will ‘likely lead to the closure’ of the cultural landmark should they be given the green light, the venue’s chief executive has warned.

CEO Emma Harvey delivered her warning in a letter objecting to the proposals, which would see the former Trinity Road police station demolished and replaced with 104 rented and shared ownership affordable homes along with a smaller policing facility.

In her letter on the proposal by The Guinness Partnership, one of the country’s largest affordable housing providers which purchased the site from Avon and Somerset Police, Ms Harvey said that the popular centre would ‘almost certainly’ be hit with noise complaints from new tenants as it holds around 100 gigs and club nights each year.

Despite a new national planning rule aimed at protecting venues by placing the responsibility of potential noise disruption on a developer, Ms Harvey said that developments were still being approved across the city.

Trinity Centre boss warns flats plan for old police station ‘could lead to closure’ of popular venue

According to Ms Harvey, this was the case when plans to build 12 new flats on a derelict car park in West Street opposite the Trinity Centre were approved in 2020 in spite of 2,000 objections due to its ‘inadequate’ noise impact assessment.

In its Design and Access Statement, the Guinness Partnership said the proposed buildings has been designed to be sensitive to the existing Old Market Conservation area within which Trinity Road sits, and that it had been engaging with Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council along with the Trinity Arts group.

The firm said it recognised the importance of supporting the surrounding evening economy, particularly the Trinity Centre, and that it had commissioned a noise assessment to ensure it captured a ‘particularly noisy’ weekend of live music events at the centre.

It added that the buildings would have measures installed such as ‘high performing window assemblies’ to reduce noise and ensure ‘levels of noise are comfortable to future occupants’.

But Ms Harvey is demanding that an additional survey that is ‘proper and open-minded’ be completed before the new development be allowed to go ahead.

An artist’s impression of what the apartment block in Bristol’s Old Market Conservation Area could look like.

Without it, Ms Harvey concluded, it was likely that the project would lead to the closure of the Trinity Centre, which has been a staple in the fabric of Bristol’s nightlife in the Grade II listed Gothic church since 1976.

She added: “It is incumbent upon the planning authority to ensure that developers are not allowed to rush developments through this stage of the process at the expense of the cultural heritage and lifeblood of our city.

“Though Trinity welcomes the prospect of increased affordable homes in the locality, this cannot be at expense of Trinity.

“We therefore ask that the planning stage of the process is fully utilised to prevent disputes further down the tracks where the onus inevitably falls on the venues that preexist the development to change, adapt or close down.”

The Guinness Partnership is also currently developing the McArthur’s Yard site on Gas Ferry Road, and is aiming to begin construction on the Trinity Road project this summer.

Bristol City Council is yet to make a decision on the planning application which was submitted on September 9 last year.