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City Centre Proposals & KCG’s response

Bristol City Centre Development and Delivery Plan

This plan describes the vision and strategies for the future of Bristol’s City Centre, in particular Broadmead and Castle Park.  To see the whole document, look at :

https://www.ask.bristol.gov.uk/hub-page/city-centre-ddp

The Kingsdown Conservation Group has serious concerns about the “City Centre Development and Delivery Plan” and cannot support it in its present form.

Many of the aspirations seem admirable and the case of road closures to traffic long since overdue. The scale of development envisaged on Page 57 “Approach: Height and Microclimate”, however, shows that if enacted these aims will become impossible. The proposal map shows a ring of possible tall buildings encircling Broadmead. If this policy were to stand, the Tall Building Strategy is insufficiently robust to resist developers pushing for tall buildings on these sites.

This would have a disastrous effect on other developments within the city centre and render the centre an unpleasant place to be; exactly the opposite effect to that which the delivery plan is hoping to achieve. Unlike buildings of amplified height, tall buildings have a blighting effect on a city. Their impact, both on their immediate surroundings and the wider realm, is hugely detrimental to their environment and they are not sustainable.

Given the current climate crisis and Bristol City’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030, a policy that gives support to tall buildings is completely unacceptable. The embodied carbon of tall buildings is significantly greater than buildings of ten storeys of a similar size, so there is now no justification in allowing tall buildings. It has also been shown that it is perfectly possible to build to a high density without resorting to tall buildings. It, therefore, cannot be argued that they are necessary in order to meet housing targets. Good quality examples in Bristol include Finzel’s Reach and Wapping Wharf which create environments to a human scale that site comfortably within their surroundings.

We are also concerned that there is no reference to the idea of repurposing buildings, rather than demolishing them. Many of the buildings identified are not so old that they should be demolished, as for instance the Galleries. For Bristol to be meet the climate challenge it will have to accept that the reuse of buildings must be considered first.

As representatives of Kingsdown we are also concerned that there is not mention of long-distance views across the city. These are an important feature of the character of Bristol and views to and from the escarpment of Kingsdown are identified as being important in the Kingsdown Conservation Area Character Appraisal. What happens in the centre could have a significant impact on these views and should therefore be addressed within this policy.

With regards to Castle Park we would question whether it is really necessary to have quite so many paths running through it, or that they should be quite so wide. It is not a large park and the sacrifice of green areas to more paths should be resisted.

What Bristol needs is a new vision for the city, not one that has long since been discredited. There is no need for Bristol to follow the example of other cities in foolishly damaging their city centres. It is not too late for Bristol to do things differently, to take the climate change seriously, to really try to create environments that put people, not developers, first and to leave a legacy of buildings of which the city can be proud. Sadly with the policy as it is now that will be nigh on impossible.

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