Bristol University’s plans to build a new technology campus
The University of Bristol proposes to build a new £300m Campus in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. The Campus will occupy the sites of the former cattle market and part of the former diesel depot, which it will share with the Arena. The Council will demolish the eyesore of the partially demolished Royal Mail sorting office on the Cattle Market site. The Arena Island site is cleared of buildings. The project will deliver a new science-led campus to foster innovation and digital technology. Bristol has one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing high-tech clusters and is a home to digital innovation. The masterplan brief is to create a new city centre University campus to accommodate significant expansion over the next 5 – 10 years. The scheme plans four buildings between 8 and 12 storeys tall on the Cattle Market site and three buildings between 11 and 25 storeys tall on the Arena site to house 1,500 student bedrooms. There has been an initial public consultation about the overall size, scale and density of the Campus; detailed plans will follow.
The Society strongly supports the University proposal to develop on these derelict sites in the Enterprise Zone. The masterplan is at an early stage and will continue to evolve. In its response, the Society commented on matters that we assume have already been discussed between the University, the Council and other parties. The east side of the river, away from the Grade I listed, Temple Meads Station, may be an appropriate site for tall buildings. The Society assumes that the Council has discussed with the University suitable viewpoints for the tall buildings assessment. The prominence in the Enterprise Zone and the importance of this development require exemplary architecture. The tallest building gives an opportunity to create an internationally recognised symbol of the University and the City’s aspirations; an image that the University and the City will be proud to reproduce in their publicity. A design to match the Wills Tower would be impressive. The Society would like to see the Campus reuse the Cattle Market Tavern, which stands on a corner of the site and could provide an attractive use ancillary to the Campus and create local character alongside a massive modern development.
The Society has not seen a projection of the number of academic and non-academic staff who will work on the campus. In recent years the University has expanded continuously and left the market to provide accommodation for its expanding population. Despite the growth of privately-managed student halls of residence this laissez faire policy has damaged the local housing market. There is political disquiet. In some areas student houses in multiple occupation have reached a level where they have removed a substantial number of family homes from the housing stock and harmed the balance of local communities. The Society is pleased to note that the new Campus will provide residential accommodation. The new wave of academic staff will also look for homes in a city that continues to suffer serious house price inflation. The Society supports the resolution passed by the Council on the 18th July 2017 to develop a bespoke Supplementary Planning Document which includes best practice to mitigate the impact of University expansion and require the Universities to support transport and housing solutions.
At this stage in the planning process it is unfair to criticise the lack of detail about the proposals for the public realm. These are important questions for the development to resolve: the public realm on the island must be considered in the wider landscape of the whole Enterprise Zone in which it is an important element. The masterplan includes aspirations for new bridge(s) across the waterways and to construct/improve new/existing shared cycle/pedestrian routes. The Society has asked whether the University and Council have discussed the University’s travel plan. There will be widespread public concern about the substantial peak time traffic that the Campus will generate. The local road network is at capacity during peak hours. There is great local concern about the impact on day-time parking in Totterdown and the Bath Road. The Society has also asked the University and the Council whether they may have discussed the improvement of services with local bus companies. A failing of this site is that there is no concentration of bus services. An inadequate bus service is a weakness of the whole Enterprise Zone.
To locate this site, use this link to the Google map of the area.
Bristol Civic Society’s full response [PDF, 367KB] Right-click to download, click to view.