‘Putting petrol to the fire’ - Fears raised over late-night takeaway plans next to Turbo Island in Stokes Croft

‘We can change the area but we need to do it carefully’

Local artists have raised fears that a new late-night takeaway in Stokes Croft would worsen issues on a notorious hotspot for crime and anti-social behaviour. In July, Bristol World reported on plans to pave over Turbo Island.

Close to the island, Maeme’s is planning to open on 43 Jamaica Street, serving grilled chicken and salads, and opening for takeaway until 3am. Representatives for the business said it would attract emergency workers on late shifts looking for healthier food options on their way home.

But artists from the neighbouring Jamaica Street Studios fear the late-night takeaway would exacerbate long-running problems around Turbo Island. They urged Bristol City Council to limit the business’s opening hours, in a licensing hearing on Thursday, September 8.

Andrew Hood, from the studios, told the licensing hearing that the problems on Turbo Island had become much worse in the past three years, since the council clamped down on anti-social behaviour in the Bearpit. He said the studio had rung the fire service “about 20 times” over the past year, after people were repeatedly starting fires on Turbo Island.

He said: “I do think it’s a good idea in a way. We can change the area but we need to do it carefully. Opening after 10pm is like putting petrol to the fire.”

The site in Stokes Croft is plagued by drug use, camp fires and vermin.

Studio manager Rosie Bowery added: “Turbo Island is a nightmare. It’s just not what we need at the moment, the late night thing. It’s going to make the issue worse.”

Maeme’s would take the place of an old off-licence, Abdul’s Convenience Store, and would not serve alcohol or allow alcohol to be brought into the restaurant. Diners would be able to sit inside until midnight, while deliveries would be able to run until 4am.

Bristol City Council’s licensing sub-committee has now granted the licence for late night refreshment—needed to sell hot food at night—but the building first also needs planning permission for the change of use from a shop to a restaurant, before it can open.

Peter Rosser, a licensing lawyer, said: “What the area needs to move on is new investment with healthy food alternatives and clean new premises. Maeme’s will be a new, fresh and clean takeaway with a very unique offering.”

Current plans for Turbo Island

Wildstone, an outdoor media infrastructure firm which owns Turbo Island and its advertisement billboard, have announced plans to tackle ongoing problems at the site while giving it a full revamp.

The group wants to regrade the land, hard landscape it and install bike racks.

Philip Allard, CEO and director of the firm, said: “The site has become a focus for anti-social behaviour and we are working with Bristol City Council local residents and other stakeholders to try to address the problems as we have done on other sites in the city.”