New Bridewell

Redevelopment of the New Bridewell Police Station and for Juvenile Courts to provide student accommodation.

new-bridewellThe Society supports the demolition of the current buildings, which have no architectural merit, and of the unused pedestrian bridge. The removal of these unremarkable buildings gave an excellent opportunity to mitigate one of the city’s worst planning disasters. Nelson Street and Rupert Street are acknowledged townscape failures. They form alienating canyons of bad architecture.

The Council’s design brief demanded, ‘A development of exemplary architectural quality constructed from durable building materials of high quality to ensure a long life span for the building.’ The Society regrets that in March 2014, the Council granted planning permission for the development of an 8 floor block on Bridewell Street, which rises to 14 floors to Rupert Street. The use of this site for student accommodation is acceptable, but in the Society’s opinion the layout, height, scale, massing, form and overall design and appearance of the buildings proposed will fail contribute positively to the area’s character. The height of the ‘landmark tower’ is taller than the building that it will replace and exceeds the Council’s own planning guidance.

There are a number of listed buildings, which the development will overbear. Far from promoting or enhancing Rupert Street Bridewell Street and Nelson Street, the ‘landmark’ tower will aggravate the area’s urban blight and planning dysfunction. The ‘landmark’ tower will perpetuate the planning disaster that created Rupert Street. This development offers little public benefit. The Society doubts the commercial viability of street level retail use above needs of the local student population. The vacancy rate at the west end of Broadmead is chronically high. The Internet shopping revolution has irrevocably reduced the demand for retail space, which has moved to the east of Broadmead. Retail use is only one solution to create an active frontage.


The Society regrets that the Planning Committee granted this huge building planning permission on the Planning Officer’s recommendation, which perpetuates the planning disaster of Rupert Street.

Bristol Civic Society’s full statement [PDF, 371KB] Right-click to download, click to view.

John Frenkel

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