Blackberry Hill 'must include homes folk can afford'

November 02 2016

MAJOR concerns are being voiced about the proposed 305 homes on the former Blackberry Hill Hospital site in Fishponds.

blackberry hill

MAJOR concerns are being voiced about the proposed 305 homes on the former Blackberry Hill Hospital site in Fishponds.

People living in the neighbourhood are worried about the traffic and parking impact on Manor Road and Snowdon Road and the surrounding area, while many residents are angry that there is not yet any commitment to affordable housing on the site.

The formal planning application from developers Galliford Try is now live on the city council website and campaigners are urging people to go online and make their views known.

The objectors say the council’s policy is for 40 per cent of homes on all major new developments to be affordable to help address the chronic housing shortage in Bristol.

But the developers say they already have to pay £2.3 million for improvements to the area, which, coupled with the cost of refurbishing the Grade II listed buildings, means they cannot afford to provide social housing on the site.

The former mental health hospital closed in 2005 and the site is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency. The housing development plans were delayed while a part of the site known as the Laundry Field was designated a Town and Village Green, preserving it for open space.

Originally, social housing company Curo Homes was a partner in the project and was due to provide the affordable housing part of the scheme but it pulled out a year ago, saying the proect was not viable.

Galliford Try and the HCA argue in their application that the scheme will bring “substantial benefits”, including upgrades to the road network, that outweigh the need for social housing.

Frome Vale ward councillors Lesley Alexander and Nicola Bowden-Jones plan to meet the HCA this month to press the case for affordable homes.

Ms Bowden-Jones said: “Bristol is in the middle of a huge housing crisis, caused largely by spiralling house prices and rents. This new development has no intention of building houses that ordinary Bristolians can afford to rent or buy, and will only add to the cost of housing by benefiting remote 'investors' and buy-to-let landlords.

“I implore all local residents who feel strongly about the Blackberry Hill development to register their feelings. This could be your last chance to prevent a significant backward step in the development of the Fishponds area.”

The proposed development is to convert three of the hospital buildings to provide 113 homes, with 192 more being being newly-built. The aim is for a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments, together with two, three and four-bedroom houses.

Shops and offices are also planned for the 21-acre site.

The developers say they will provide 430 parking spaces, but residents fear this will not be enough. Neighbours are also concerned about the effect on traffic, especially as there are other large housing developments taking place on the St Matthias campus site in Fishponds and at Stoke Gifford. They fear increased congestion and poor air quality, which is a concern for the health of school children at Fishponds CofE Academy and Bristol Metropolitan Academy.

The developers maintain that there are “no valid highways or transportation reasons” to prevent development.

“The location of the site provides the opportunity for residents to use non car modes of travel as genuine travel alternatives to the car. It is therefore anticipated that vehicular trips associated with the users of the proposed redevelopment will be minimised,” they say. 

To comment, go to http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/ and look for the references 16/05376/F and 16/05398/LA

It is expected that a decision on the plans will be made by city councillors early in 2017.