Castle Park – west end

Castle Park aerialLater this year the Council will receive a planning enquiry from Goodman Developments, an Australian international property group, to develop the land between High Street and St Mary-le-Port Church, which includes the dilapidated Lloyds Bank, Bank of England and Norwich Union buildings. The Society has sent to Goodman and the Council suggestions about the opportunities that will follow the buildings’ demolition.

The Central Area Plan (2005) sets out the Council’s current thinking.

  1. The ‘St. Mary-le-Port site’ is suitable for a mix of uses, with a new pedestrian crossing from St. Nicholas’ Market, and a new public space to improve the setting of the St. Mary-le-Port Church tower and ruins.
  2. There must be a properly designed transition between the redeveloped area and the park to include active ground floor uses onto the park and the quayside walk.
  3. The development must provide a high quality new pedestrian setting in High Street and Wine Street. There is an opportunity to reduce the street widths and reduce traffic impact.

The Society supports these aims but a policy statement “The development must recognise the need to maintain a balance between the needs of development and the retention of the existing and important green infrastructure on and around Wine Street/High Street/Bridge Street”, causes controversy.

The Society argues for:

  • the development to stop at Bridge Street, conserving the green bank and trees between the Back of Bridge Street and Bridge Street.
  • removing the ironic length of dual carriageway at the site of the medieval cross at the High Street and Wine Street junction, where there could be space for a small square.
  • the re-alignment of the building line towards Wine Street to create a tighter urban grain. Reluctantly the Society accepts that the development gain from more development through building out into High Street and Wine Street would outweigh the loss of the plane trees.

There is another point of view. A large number of Bristol residents are passionate about the retention of the plane trees. They support landscaping the unattractive gap between the buildings and High Street and Wine Street to create new lettable market space and social area under the plane tree canopy that would consolidate the market area of Corn Street.

The Society would vigorously oppose a tall building on this site. The height of the Prudential Building on Wine Street is an indicator of acceptable mass. The new development must not overbear the church towers of St. Mary le Port, St. Peter’s and All Saints and the spire of Christ Church. These are heritage assets whose importance to the City cannot be overstated.

To locate this site, use this link to the Google map of the area.

Alan Morris

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