Kingsdown Conservation Group opposed the University’s proposal to build a £35 million Bio-Sciences building. The Bio-Sciences building will be built on the site of the old children’s hospital at the top of St Michael’s Hill. It will be six storeys high at the Tyndall Avenue corner. It will damage the character of the upper part of the St Michael’s Hill conservation area, damage the skyline views of the University particularly, it will block the view of the Royal Fort Physics Tower from Kingsdown.
The community groups were united on the issue that the Bio-Sciences building is too big. Kingsdown Conservation Group, the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter, Redland and Cotham Amenity Society were supported by the Bristol Civic Society. Some KCG members wrote to the City planners to support our opposition.
We were very disappointed to have to oppose the University. KCG had divided loyalties. We did not want to oppose the University but the Bio-Sciences building is too big and will damage the St. Michael’s Hill Conservation Area. We would have supported the University’s planning application if they had followed their original design of a four-storey building. Between November 2007 and January 2009 the University revised the plans of the Bio-Sciences building three times, in response to criticism. The University made further, final revisions in the month before the date for the Planning Committee’s decision. The changes did not affect KCG’s main objection; the building is 45% bigger than the building shown in the University’s master plan. The University holds more development land on the former Children Hospital site, on to which it could have spread its building
On Wednesday the 9th April the Central Planning Committee approved the University’s finally revised application. The University’s vice-chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, told councillors “This planning application is crucial to the University’s continued success and therefore important to our City.”
Councillor Jim White said “I would have hoped for something better, but the positives of this scheme outweigh the negatives”. Other councillors expressed reservations about the size of the Bio-Sciences building but voted to pass the application.