Local residents campaigning for a more ‘sensitive and appropriate’ development of the five-acre St Christopher’s Square site at the edge of the Downs in Bristol have issued new images of how the site could look under proposed plans.
The St Christopher’s Action Network (SCAN), which is made up of local residents from Westbury Park, commissioned the images. They say the impressions were created on architectural software and based on the measurements within the revised plans.
Real estate investment firm The FORE Partnership, extra care provider Amicala and developer Socius want to create 116 ‘extra care’ homes on the site of the former St Christopher’s school and lodged a planning application for the £85m proposals with Bristol City Council last year.
The team behind the development plans say it will be designed to ‘the highest standards in sustainability’ and will address the ‘shortage of accommodation in Bristol for older people, and free up under-occupied family homes in the local housing market’.
They also claim the site will offer residents the opportunity to receive ‘increasing levels of extra care and support as and when they need it, reducing the pressure on the NHS and wider care system’.
The scheme would see parts of the former special needs residential school, which closed in 2019, demolished to make way for a six-storey apartment block and a collection of two-storey cottages.
But the project has come under fierce opposition from SCAN, who have slammed it as a ‘greedy and excessive overdevelopment’ in a much-loved conservation area close to the Downs.
Hundreds of formal objections have been submitted in recent months - the main qualms from residents being lack of adequate parking, which could cause cars to spill out onto already busy roads, the ‘towering’ height of the apartment block and the loss of a ‘desperately needed’ SEND (children with special educational needs) residential school.
Mark Ashford from SCAN says: “We commissioned these architectural impressions because the developer has failed to provide any photos or images that show the community what this scheme actually looks like.
“They keep publishing vague sketches from strange perspectives of one bit of the site, not showing any of the multi-storey blocks of flats in relation to each other. So we have had to do it ourselves.
“As you can see the result is overbearing and oppressive. Four blocks of flats up to five storeys high squeezed close to each other is not a pretty sight. It’s no wonder the developers didn’t want anyone to see just what a horrific impact this scheme will have.”
Fellow SCAN member Phil Gittins said: “The new images show how little the developers have listened to the community.
“Their proposed development is still way too large for the site, cramming in as many units as they can, with no thought for the consequences.
“It will ruin the current green space, home to so much wildlife, and ignores the views and needs of the local community. That’s why so many of us have objected to these amended plans and hope our voice is heard by the council.”
A spokesperson for the development said: “We are aware of the visuals published by SCAN and have reviewed them in partnership with our architects.
“On review, it is clear that this interpretation of the scheme is unverified and factually inaccurate.
“There are several points of difference between the actual proposals for the site and what has been conveyed in SCAN’s visuals. Namely, discrepancies in boundary positioning, building proximity and most significantly, the heights of the properties.”