St Mary le Port: update July 2021

The Civic Society is keen to see an appropriate redevelopment of this important city centre site which currently is an eyesore. However, we cannot support this proposal which is now the subject of a detailed planning application. Our strong view is that this is not an appropriate design response to this sensitive site located in Bristol’s historic core. Although we have identified a number of commendable aspects of the scheme, the harmful impacts, particularly those flowing from the heights of the buildings, outweigh these.

The site’s current condition, and the wish to see it redeveloped and brought into productive use, should not be to the detriment of the historic features and character of this sensitive part of the city.

Ideally, the Society would like to see the application site and adjoining highway land considered together in the redevelopment of the area. Not doing so potentially risks missing an opportunity to deliver an outstanding piece of place making that Bristol would be proud of.

In particular, the Society cannot support the proposed heights of the three office buildings because of:

  1. the substantial harm to the setting (and views) of medieval church spires;
  2. the substantial harm to the setting of a significant number of other listed buildings;
  3. the overall adverse effect on the city and Queen Square Conservation Area; and,
  4. harm to views to the development when seen from many viewpoints.

In our initial submission to the public consultation on the draft proposals, we drew attention to the need for the developer to justify the heights of the buildings because, on the basis of the material we had then seen, we had concerns about the proposed heights. This justification has not been provided and the fresh material supporting the application underlines that we were right to be concerned about the appropriateness of the illustrated heights.

Simon Birch

Further details: Full Civic Society response and press release.

Original Civic Society review in May.


2 thoughts on “St Mary le Port: update July 2021”

  1. I’m concerned by this development, it seems fine and enjoyed by many as it is currently. Of great historic importance. Something will need to be done in place of the derelect building where the Dutch House once stood maybe, i will need to look at the plans in more detail, not clear from this picture

  2. This commercial development proposal, by an excellent architectural practice, unfortunately fails miserably on so many counts, the principal one being of scale in relation to its setting and that of the old city.
    1. Height and bulk is excessive with massive blocks that would overwhelm the adjacent historic buildings.
    2. Failure to take this one great opportunity to restore the narrower urban scale of High Street and its vista from Bristol Bridge to Christchurch with St Ewen
    3. Excessive, heavily serviced, deep floor plan office space at a time when work patterns are changing
    4. Failure to provide any residential or mixed use to contribute to the vibrancy of the city apart from the ground floor retail
    The landscape proposals are the one redeeming factor but even the references to the historic street pattern seem more determined by the wishes of the corporate developers than by the history.

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