Huge tower block would have ‘substantial, adverse consequences’ for Bristol
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Plans to build the tallest tower block in Bristol have been strongly objected to by the city’s Civic Society, which is ‘appalled’ by the proposal.
Developer Olympian has lodged a planning application to knock down the 1970s-built Premier Inn hotel, and replace it with two tower blocks. One would be a 28-storey high block with 442 student apartments, the other would be an 18-storey block with 132 ‘co-living’ flats.
Also to go under the major plans submitted to Bristol City Council for approval would be the Haymarket Walk shopping precinct. The developer says the proposed homes would meet a demand for more accommodation for students in the city, and for young professionals.
However, the plans have been met with opposition. Since the planning application was submitted at the end of July, more than 30 people have objected, including Bristol Civic Society, which ‘object in the strongest terms to this planning application’. One of the main issues for the body is the height of the 28-storey tower block, which would be two storeys higher than the Castle Park view building.
In a 12-page letter of objection, the society said: “The 28-storey tower would have substantial, adverse consequences for the character of Bristol. It would undermine and diminish those qualities which make Bristol special and help distinguish it from other major cities.
“This has consequences for tourism and the city’s ability to attract and retain the cutting-edge businesses which are the city’s future.”
It added that the tower would impact the views of historic buildings on Kingsdown escarpment, and also impact the view from Windmill Hill and Totterdown. The society said the current height of the hotel - 20 storeys - should be the maximum for the city centre’s tallest building.
The society added: “Losing views isn’t just dispiriting in terms of townscape and heritage (which it is) but makes for a claustrophobic, brutalist city that has lost touch with human scale.”
Objections were also raised by the society on the grounds of daylight to the proposed accommodation and the proportion of affordable housing (26 of the 132 co-living flats).
The height of the 28-storey building dominate other objections to the planning application. One person wrote: ‘high-rise building has its place but in this instance, situated as it would be in one of the lowest-lying areas of the city, it would present an unavoidable focus that would detract from the beauty of Bristol’s cityscape’.
Another said: ‘if it isn’t just some weird joke - the proposed building is wildly out of proportion, a huge could-beanywhere lump. Not worthy of Bristol’.
The developer held an online consultation and held events with stakeholders and members of the public. It told the public that the tower blocks would be ‘elegant’ and ‘high quality’, and that 6% of the site would be public open space with a new central courtyard cafe, planting and new pedestrian routes connecting the bus staiton with Broadmead.
In response to concerns over the height of the buildings, it said that by creating two taller buildings it was able to provide more public open space, and open up views to St James’ Priory. It also said the two buildings will ‘provide an important landmark in this prominent location’.
Bristol City Council will make a decision on the planning application in the coming months.