Hundreds sign petition over planned Broadwalk development in Knowle

More than 800 flats will be built if the development goes ahead

A petition over proposed towerblocks being built at Broadwalk Shopping Centre in Knowle has already attracted more than 750 signatures.

Organised by Knowle Neighbourhood Planning Group, the petition called Knowle Deserves Better - Stop the Broadwalk Towerblocks opposes the height and density of the plan.

A planning application has been submitted by Redcatch Development Partnershipto demolish Broadwalk Shopping Centre and to replace it a 817-flat-led development with a cinema, supermarket, restaurant, a library and dentist surgery.

But members of the petition group claim it will have fewer community facilities and smaller shops.

It comes three years after previous plans for the site, with half the number of homes, were approved. This latest proposed scheme would be spread across several tower blocks, with the highest being 12 storeys tall, and would bring 2,000 new residents to Knowle, says the petition group.

The group adds that the flats would tower over neighbouring Redcatch Park and surrounding houses, dramatically changing the view and landscape of the area.

Helen Evans and Laura Chapman of Knowle Neighbourhood Planning Group have studied the plans and believe that Broadwalk - to be renamed the Redcatch Quarter - needs development and investment, but not at the scale which is proposed.

The plans for the redevelopment of the Broadwalk shopping centre

They also say the plans to make just 7% of the housing ‘affordable’ goes against the target of 30%. Knowle Neighbourhood Planning Group wants Bristol City Council to follow the guidance in their own Urban Living Policy, and reject this version of the plans.

They hope to encourage the developers to design something smaller and more in-keeping with the area, which they say would serve new and existing residents and allow Knowle to thrive.

Helen said: “Twelve storeys is completely out of keeping with the mainly two-storey dwellings in Knowle and will overshadow residents’ homes and the local park.

“The proposed density of this development is 356% higher than the recommended maximum density for Knowle, as set out in Bristol City Council’s own planning framework.”

Helen is also worried the proposed scheme will reduce retail and community space at Broadwalk by 57% and doesn’t think the proposed cinema is an appropriate replacement for the current social spaces including the popular bingo hall.

Artist impression showing the height of the Redcatch Quarter proposed for Broadwalk Shopping Centre

Helen added: “It also looks as if the majority of the social housing homes are tiny, so unable to accommodate any more than one person each. Some of the flats can’t even fit a double bed.

“To date there have been some consultations with local residents, however our experience is that they have been a largely one-way broadcasts involving the developers talking at residents to tell them what the plans are, rather than constructive and transparent two-way dialogue.

“We’ve had to fight really hard to get answers to even some quite basic questions. The residents we speak to are frustrated and concerned. Many still don’t feel listened to by the developers or our local councillors and the breadth of comments on the petition speak for themselves.

“Key concerns include height, density, the impact of that many additional residents on key services such as GPs, dentists, schools, parking, loss of any services during construction, loss of light to surrounding homes and whether there will be shops and facilities that cater for all socioeconomic groups once the development is complete.

An ‘eye level view’ of the development with Redcatch Park at the fore

“Interestingly, we’re hearing from many people who were OK with the 2019 plans but are appalled by how much bigger this new application is – this version is a completely different beast, and has left people feeling more convinced than ever that the developers are putting profit above community.”

Helen said that she wanted to see a ‘well-considered proposal, sympathetic to the local area’ with an increse in affordable housing to help address the city’s housing shortage.

On submitting the planning application last month, project manager Francis Hilton said feedback from a consultation last year had been ‘instrumental’ in progressing the proposed development.

He added: “Following valuable discussions with local people, it’s clear that we are all united in wanting a thriving, sustainable community asset that will deliver for Knowle for years to come.”

Bristol City Council will make a decision on the planning application in the coming months.