Proposed New University Library and Road Closures

Kingsdown Conservation Group has objected, as follows, to the University’s planning application to build a new library on the site of The Hawthorns, at the corner of Woodland Road and Elton Road, opposite the Grammar School. 

Residents are encouraged to view the application on the Bristol City Council website and act accordingly. Comment should be submitted by 4th March.

Planning Application 20/00433/F. Proposed new university and associated road closures.

Kingsdown Conservation Group strongly objects to the proposed closure of Tyndall Avenue to two-way motor traffic. The ramifications of such closure would severely interrupt traffic’s ability to navigate the city. Traffic volumes would increase elsewhere. St Michael’s Hill, Park Row and other streets are virtually intolerable as it is. Meanwhile, the streets in which many university buildings are located would become increasingly quiet parking lots, utilised largely by those university staff members allocated residents’ parking permits and busy only during weekdays in term time, otherwise horribly empty of life, particularly at night. It is extraordinary that the University’s governing body is insensitive to this issue. 

Bristol University is favoured for not being a campus university. Its buildings and landscape should celebrate the fact that the university is intertwined with the city as a whole.

The Group feels the same argument applies St Michael’s Park, which should also remain two-way. The current proposal to split the road so that one half is one-way while the other half two-way is confusing and, given the proposal not to separate the cycle route in the one-way section, potentially quite dangerous.

To turn to the library, the size of the proposed building demonstrably exceeds that determined by SPD11. The Group regrets it is unable to support the height, scale and mass of the current proposal. It would be against the grain of the conservation area and of the immediate context. It would overwhelm the nearby buildings of Bristol Grammar School, the former Baptist College and the Victorian villas of Woodland Road and Elton Road. 

In addition to the sheer size of the proposed library, its demanding architectural character would be discordant with the wider cityscape and, when seen from more distant viewpoints, the design would exacerbate the building’s immense scale. The unsettled, cubic forms of the proposed building would cause it to appear ill at ease both with its location and with itself.

The Group recognises the University’s ambition to continue to expand but feels what has been asked of the Hawthorns site should be reconsidered. The brief has asked too much of a finite location. 


4 comments on “Proposed New University Library and Road Closures”

How sad that the University devalues its ‘non-campus’ status. That was one of the features that really attracted me to UoB as an undergraduate. I know many others felt the same.

Chris Hine

I do not understand your reference to closing Tyndall Avenue to motor traffic in both directions – this does not seem to be proposed.

I agree this would be wrong. It will in any case be made even slower than it is now and less attractive to motorists due to bus hub etc, but for some regular drivers it will remain the shortest route.Closing would finally say this IS University of Bristol Campus.

I agree entirely with the concerns about both bulk and form of the purpose new library
I feel that on road closures we should recognise that to reduce all forms of pollution and to meet our critical carbon reduction targets we will need to get used to significant restrictions on car and other vehicular use .
There will be some form of daytime ban on cars in the clean air zone which will include Park Row /Upper Maudlin Street within the next year or so .This may affect all older cars not just diesel but should reduce numbers as will the charging regime on other vehicles in the wider area we are within .
I suggest KCG should be strongly in favour of such reductions of which road closures can be a part .Evidence now shows that restrictions do reduce movements as people find other ways of moving – of course we need better buses but slowly and finally these are appearing .BCC will announce more shortly .

David Mellor

The University has been trying to rebrand itself as a campus university for many years, on the basis that prospective students and their parents ‘do not know where the University is’ unless it has an identifiable ‘heart’. The term ‘campus’ is widely and deliberately used within the University to describe the area around Senate House. So although Bristol is distinctive for not being a campus university, this is not seen as an asset by the senior management and this proposed development reflects that point of view.

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