St Catherine’s Place, East Street, Bedminster
This is a scheme to redevelop the site to provide about 270 new homes in five blocks between 4 and 22 floors. The scheme would also revitalise the tired St. Catherine’s Place shopping arcade; this would be a substantial planning gain. The image shows how the 22-floor tower (the Tower) would appear. East Street runs across the image. At the margin on the right is the corner tower of the former Imperial Tobacco offices. A previous developer obtained planning permission on the site, contrary to Officers’ advice, for a 16-floor tower.
This development is one of five development plots described in the Bedminster Green redevelopment area (Civic Society review). The total development area is over 6 hectares of land south of East Street. The Society strongly supports redevelopment, it is a once in a generation opportunity to deliver an imaginative new quarter to the Bedminster town centre.
The Society regrets that it cannot support the current scheme. Immediately to the west of the Tower another developer has applied for planning permission to build a 16-floor block. The two towers will be read as a continuous building mass that rises from the ground as a solid cliff, unwelcoming to residents and unfriendly to passers-by in Dalby Avenue. After the Grenfell Tower disaster this development, with a single access core, is classed as a High-Risk Residential Building. The car park under the Tower adds to the fire risk. The Society is confident that the Planning Officer will take advice from the Fire Prevention Officer about the advisability of construction of a 22-floor single-core access building.
Living high is not a natural environment for people. For those with money it may be their chosen way, they can afford the higher cost of construction and maintenance charges. For those on lower incomes living high is often a trap. Only flats with balconies would have private amenity space. There is no public amenity space which makes life restricted. There is no affordable housing. This development intensity always questions the quality of the residential offer. The application fails to consider how this massive scheme would integrate with the Bedminster town centre or the other four development plots. Permission should be refused. The development is a poor design that fails to take the opportunities available to improve the character of the area.