McArthur’s Warehouse

mcarthurs warehouseThe Society supports the Guinness Partnership’s (Guinness) proposal to develop a high quality, residential-led development of about 140 flats to bring this long derelict site on Gas Ferry Road back into use. Guinness would like to occupy the ground floor commercial space themselves as a base for their West of England operations. The Society unenthusiastically accepts the demolition of the warehouse, now dangerous through long neglect. The development is at the concept stage. Drawings illustrate the outline of the new buildings and not their form.

A predominantly residential, mixed use scheme is appropriate for the site. Guinness appreciates the problems that residential accommodation built next to a working dry dock could cause. The scheme must not compromise the future use of the, currently closed, dry dock. The Society shares the concerns about the protection of employment uses around the dry dock.

The scheme should offer simple, affordable, ground floor commercial units. The ground level commercial space and car parking would be located under a 'podium slab' at first floor level with the residential blocks rising above it. There are planning constraints on the height of the new buildings. The new buildings' height must respect the existing developments as well as views across the Harbour and to the Clifton escarpment. The building heights should step down to the domestic building scale of Cumberland Road. The provisional roof designs are pitched, which would add interest to the skyline. The articulation and design of the elevation that faces Gas Ferry Road will be a critical factor. A long unbroken façade of the replacement building would compare unfavourably with the vigorous architectural invention and visual interest of the original warehouse.

The palette of building materials should reflect the dockside setting. If the development could recover and reuse some of the original, deep terracotta bricks, they could make an attractive feature. The Society suggests a creative accommodation mix that would be more adaptable in the future and assumes, given Guinness’s purpose, that the development will provide policy compliant affordable housing.

Update - 7 December 2016

The Guinness Partnership has now made a formal pre-planning enquiry to the Council. The Society was surprised to read in the Design Statement, given Guinness’s objects that:

"GPL see this project as a wholly market led scheme that will provide sufficient financial surplus to allocate to the provision of affordable housing in suitable locations in Bristol and elsewhere. We propose that an appropriate level of intermediate affordable housing provision is agreed through the viability appraisal process."

This scheme will comprise of several blocks that could lend themselves to the provision of market and affordable housing with different levels of service charge. The Society has said to the Council that it does not understand why this development should not provide policy compliant affordable housing on-site. The neighbouring Wapping Wharf will provide on-site affordable housing.

Bristol Civic Society's original response [PDF, 332KB] Right-click to download, click to view.

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John Frenkel
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