By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
REVISED plans for have been submitted to redevelop one of Bristol’s biggest eyesores into more than 180 flats.
Comer Homes’ latest effort for Westmoreland House in Stokes Croft has 29 more flats than their last application, which was refused by Bristol City Council and then again after a planning inquiry.
The company says it has listened to the recommendations of the planning inspector who rejected its’ appeal and want to progress a scheme without further delay.
The application is for 183 flats, with a three storey car park, shops, alterations to the Carriageworks part of the site and listed building consent.
Aside from increasing the number of flats, a series of other changes have been made to the scheme.
To overcome objections about the size of the main tower block, the developers have reduced the size of the previously proposed blocks of flats but added another one at the rear of the site.
So the Westmoreland House block has been reduced in height by 21ft, and the top storey has been removed from the Ashley block entirely.
At the same time a new east block has been added, which includes 16, two bed flats and 18, one bed flats.
The extension at the back of the Carriageworks will be removed as part of the revised plan.
A statement from the developer’s architect Barrie Stanley has been submitted along with the revised plans.
Mr Stanley said: “The most important message that came across from the community was that the last thing the people of Bristol want to see is more blight and dereliction that comes inevitably with indecision.
“The public inquiry was a major step forward in ending that blight and we have tried to build on the huge effort and expense that went into inquiry.
“The time since then has been taken up in revising the scheme to take account of that community involvement, the views of the inspector, the views of the council and the views of the consultees, including English Heritage, in order to produce a scheme that is economically viable and can get underway without further delay.”
The derelict office block has stood empty for more than 40 years.
Previous attempts to regenerate the site have failed, amid arguments about what is best for the area.
In the run up to the election, the Liberal Democrat cabinet made a series of announcements that were determined to get something done with the site.
In March they gave themselves powers to make a Compulsory Purchase Order and warned if agreement couldn’t be found with the owner they would take it off their hands.
A steering group that includes local councillors was formed to find out what the community wants to see for the site.
The council is planning a series of consultation events later this year but is not expected to proceed to the CPO stage until later this year.
That is unless the developer is given planning permission when the proposal is considered at a future meeting of the council’s planning committee.
Newly elected Ashley councillor Gus Hoyt it was “absolutely unacceptable” that the building had been allowed to be derelict for so long.
He said: “The developer is purely motivated by profit.
“We’re trying to really open this up to the community and see what people want.
“Because there’s a new planning application it’s put a real spanner in the works.
“Everyone wants to get this going.”
Mr Hoyt said residents were telling the committee that if there were flats they should be larger ones so people become part of the community, and that no chain stores should be part of the development.
Residents’ groups like the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft want the site to be used for the community rather than more housing.
PRSC spokesman Chris Chalkley said: “I think it would do us no good to have 180 more homes in that area.
“We have an opportunity to do something really radical there.”
Regarding the Comer Homes plan, Mr Stanley said that as views have been taken previously there was “no need for further community involvement” during the development of the revised plans.
He said: “We believe that the revised scheme accommodates all views. However, no scheme can satisfy all parties.
“We argue that given the huge benefits that the scheme will bring, any remaining criticism must be viewed cautiously.”