City Motors issues defiant response to major plans for housing at dealership site

The family-owned dealership’s lease for the land in Brislington expires in June next year

The boss of a family-owned car dealership has responded defiantly to plans for a major housing development at the site of his business, saying he intends to stay as part of a long-term plan to expand.

As reported by BristolWorld last week, Sovereign Housing Association is about to unveil plans for homes at the prominent site in Brislington currently occupied by the City Motors Group and FGM Repairs Services.

The national housing association bought the land in 2020 for its ‘Castle Court’ development and is to share the blue print for its proposal with community leaders, residents and businesses ahead of a planning application later this year.

The group intends to knock down existing buildings and structures at the site, and replace them with a mix of homes, commercial space and public facilities.

City Motors has been on the site since the aquisiation of Bryan Brothers in 2008 and currently employs almost 60 people there, while FMG is believed to have around 20 employees.

Some of the team at City Motors - which says its future business plans are under threat due to housing plans for its site

However, the company’s lease expires in June next year.

But owner Robin Cook said he intended to stay. In a statement to BristolWorld he said: “We have a thriving and successful business on this site and it is very much part of our own long-term plan to grow and create further employment in the heart of Bristol.

“The location also plays an essential part in the group’s strategy to support Bristol City Council’s green and environmental objectives through substantial planned investment in electric vehicle sales and support infrastructure.

“Our position has always been made clear to the previous owner and more recently Sovereign Housing Association, that we plan to stay in occupancy for the positive reasons above.”

Mr Cook added that relocation of the company could damage any future plans by the firm to employ more people.

He said: “We do not accept that our business and others in this area should be put at risk of being displaced when, as part of Bristol City Council’s current strategic planning, there are several other regeneration and redevelopment projects being planned and in progress nearby providing adequate facilities for the foreseeable future.

The City Motors site was purchased by Sovereign Housing in 2020 - and now the housing association is about to present plans for the area

“As a substantial employer in the area, our strategy has always been to grow our business through planned investment and to enable us to create more local jobs. Sovereign’s proposal would have an adverse impact on our business plans and, as a consequence, a negative impact on employment potential locally.

“We remain confident that Bristol City Council will take a balanced view of the situation when a formal application is submitted and the planning process is underway by considering very carefully the housing and employment requirements of this area of Bristol.”

The Soverign Housing Association proposal is for land bordered by the Paintworks to the west, the River Avon to the north, existing terraced housing to the south, and St Philips Causeway to the east.

It was not one of 12 ‘Strategic Development Locations’ (SDL) by councils in the Bristol region for more homes under a Joint Spatial Plan, which was rejected by the Government in 2019.

A new Spatial Development Strategy led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), set to give broad locations for up to 105,000 homes over the next 20 years, is due to be published this Spring.

Sovereign Housing Association is currently setting up a ‘community liason group’ to consult with residents and businesses on its plans for the Brislington site ahead of a wider public consultation in early July.

Bristol CIty Council will make a decision on the planning application likely to be submitted later this year.

In response to Mr Cook’s comments, a spokesperson from Sovereign Housing Association said: “Sovereign is a housing delivery partner of Bristol City Council, and we’re well placed to understand the chronic housing shortage in the city, particularly the demand for affordable homes.

“We’re looking forward to working with the local community to develop a high-quality housing scheme which will focus on placemaking and long-term sustainability.”