7-29 Wilder St. 1-3 Backfields Stokes Croft
Watkins Jones, a student accommodation specialist, has acquired a large site on the opposite side of Backfields to the former Coroner’s Court. The development would clear the site of run-down buildings and a car park to provide purpose-built managed student accommodation and a minimal ground floor employment spaces. The Society strongly supports redevelopment of this site but regrets that it cannot support this proposal.
Stokes Croft and the Brunswick Square and Portland Square Conservation Areas are remarkable in their diversity. The mix of commercial, leisure and residential uses has led to the area’s rapid regeneration. Within 500 metres of this site there is a substantial student population with outstanding permissions for more student accommodation and more sites in an earlier planning stage. The Society supports purpose built managed student accommodation, but the Council must balance the competing local needs for more employment space and housing.
The application proposes an additional 350 bed spaces which will consolidate a student residential monoculture between Lower Maudlin Street and Dean Street. There is now a harmful concentration of student accommodation that inhibits the establishment of a stable resident population around the conservation areas and the provision of local employment opportunities. The proposal would substantially reduce the current quantity of employment space locally. The employment space offered by the proposal is a token. If the Council consents to more student accommodation, a development of this size should contribute to the local housing needs as part of a mixed development. Emerging Council policy supports the inclusion of residential space within large student accommodation of 100 bed spaces or more, to form part of mixed used developments. The area needs this additional residential population
Bristol Civic Society’s full response [PDF, 195KB]