Housing association loses appeal to build ‘affordable’ homes at Brislington eyesore

Sovereign Housing wanted to build homes at the site of a former clothing factory on Bath Road

Sovereign Housing Association has lost its appeal to build nearly 150 affordable homes at a former clothing factory on Bath Road in Brislington.

The housing association unveiled plans four years ago for 146 homes at the eyesore site at 493-499 Bath Road, but a revised planning application was refused by Bristol City Council last year.

The group lodged an appeal and a planning inquiry took place in August and September. But now the appeal for the five blocks of seven-storey flats has been dismissed by The Planning Inspectorate.

Councillors had previously refused the plans on the grounds of an overreliance on electric heating for the residents, with three quarters of the homes designed to have electric heating, as opposed to heat pumps as required by council policy in new housing developments. They were also concerned that the flats offered insufficient light.

In the report from The Planning Inspectorate, the inspector said: “I have found that the appeal scheme would significantly harm the character and appearance of the area and would result in unacceptable living conditions for future residents.

“The proposed development therefore would conflict with the design and amenity aims of the relevant development plan policies set out, matters to which I attach significant weight in the determination of this appeal.”

The inspector added that although Sovereign Housing Association had obtained grant funding from Homes England in order to deliver affordable homes, the grant funding is limited to provision of unsecured affordable housing units only.

He also noted that as planning permission would run with the land, a future developer of the site would only be obliged to provide a fraction of the affordable housing.

He said: “Whilst there would be no security provided by legal agreement under planning legislation, or via a registered Local Land Charge, the Appellant [Sovereign Housing Association] advised at the hearing that in the event that housing units were subsequently disposed of on the open market, the grant funding agreement and the overall grant funded programme would be subject to financial penalties.

“However, in the event that the appeal was allowed, planning permission would run with the land, and would not be subject to a planning condition that provided that only the Appellant could develop the site.

“As such, and given the security provided by the completed planning obligation which provides separate definitions for the affordable housing and open market housing units, if the site was disposed of by the Appellant, then a subsequent developer would only be obliged to provide 22% affordable housing with no heat hierarchy compliant system being incorporated, despite potential revenues from the sale of the open market units affecting the scheme’s viability.”

Sovereign Housing Association has been approached for comment.

The Bath Road site where Sovereign Housing Association had planned to build affordable homes