Westmoreland House Public Inquiry Update. What it is About, and Why it is Important…

Saturday Feb. 27, 1010.

The Westmoreland House Public Inquiry started at 10am on Thursday 25th Feb.
After two days of sitting, it will recommence on Tuesday at 9.30am, when the views of the local Community will be heard.

YOUR PRESENCE WILL BE MOST EFFECTIVE AT 930 AM ON TUESDAY.

What it is about:
Opecprime Development Ltd. are a company which is one of a raft of companies which include Comer Homes, that are owned by self-made multi-millionaire property developers, Brian and Luke Comer. They are probably best known for the attempted take over of Aston Villa Football Club in 2005. They appear to specialise in high-rise luxury flats, and have owned the Carriageworks/Westmoreland House site since 1988, a period of 22 years. Opecprime Development have been attempting  to gain planning permission to build an intensive development of over 150 primarily 1-bedroom luxury apartments on the site, which would be a gated community right  in the heart of Stokes Croft. The development would, if successful, involve the demolition of  Grade II listed no. 4 Ashley road, and extensive re-working of Godwin’s Grade II* Carriageworks, so that the carriage works would no longer exist in any meaningful form as a historic building, other than as a facade.

Despite being in the middle of what is a  Conservation Area, Opecprime  propose  to replace the tower of Westmoreland House with another tower of similar bulk.

Bristol City Council have refused Opecprime Development planning permission for their proposed development and so, Opecprime appealed against the decision. so, the case goes to Public Inquiry.

Public Inquiry: What it means

Bristol City Council and Opecprime have been unable to agree a way forward. So, a Planning Inspector, in this case, Mrs. Elizabeth Fieldhouse, is appointed. Over a period of five days, she will hear the arguments from both sides, and some representations from local interest groups. at the end of the five day inquiry, she will make a tour of Stokes Croft, and will then deliver her verdict, after a period of six weeks. Her decision, and hers alone, will determine whether Stokes Croft will have a gated community of  predominantly one bedroom luxury flats in the heart of Stokes Croft.

Mrs. Elizabeth Fieldhouse listens to the arguments of the appelant’s counsel.

Opecprime’s Counsel, Mr. Robert Lewis, and Barrie Stanley (Architect) in discission.

Opecprime development team are:

Mr. Robert Lewis – Counsel
Tony Collins – Planning
Barrie Stanley – Architect
Dr. John Robinson – Listed Buildings
David Baber – Highways
Philip Browne – Finance

Bristol City Council Team include:

Peter Towler – Counsel
Jayne Harding – Planning
Guy Bentham-Hill – Conservation
Robin Smyth – Conservation

In the opinion of this reporter, the outcome of this inquiry is of much greater significance to the future of Stokes Croft than whether or not Tesco obtains a foothold here. This inquiry is that important.

18 thoughts on “Westmoreland House Public Inquiry Update. What it is About, and Why it is Important…

  1. Chris,

    A few questions as ever…

    1) What’s the obsession and massive objection to ‘gated-communities’ and ‘luxury’ flats in Stokes Croft? Surely the one thing that SC needs is more people with spending power to support the local businesses?

    (Please also define ‘gated community’. This is surely a concept fron the USA and doesn’t actually exist in the UK. It was the same lame terminology used as an objection to the Linden development on the corner of Cheltenham Road and Bath Buildings).

    2) How would you expect that site to develop and rid itself of the eyesores and gross waste of space that WM House and CW are, without;
    a) Investment from a corporate
    b) Planning permission for something commercially viable
    c) A building that will continue to house something where its owner or operator has a chance of a contined sustainability of costs.

    Please answer points a-c on a realistic premise; that is, without some kind of ‘people-power’ notion where sites can be developed with government money to suit the desires of the locals with their kibbutz/arts-house ideologies.

    Regards,

    Dave

    1. Dave, there is already a local community group, Love Bristol, who have been working on a design more in tune with the aspirations of local community. The development will be privately funded, I believe white Design, (eco- Architects) are involved. Love Bristol are attempting to negotiate purchase from the Comer Brothers, and so are limited as to how much they can say at present… Much of the funding is apparently in place…

      Best,

      Chris

  2. Dave,

    There’s already a “gated” community right at the bottom of Stokes Croft: the 5102 Building! All public access is via razor-wire topped gated entrances, covered by CCTV.
    These property developers will not stand for any “improvements” on their property- just look at the PRSC homepage for their response to Chris Chalkley’s very sober and aesthetic sign on the corner of that very building!
    In my view we should not be letting multi-millionnaire developers gut historic buildings after 20 years indifference just because they get a whiff of an upturn and a Tescos around the corner! Sorry for the haste of my reply, in a rush….

  3. The current proposal means the look of Stokes Croft changing to some samey housing development block of flats that our popping up all over Britain at the moment, think 1960’s tower blocks right, then they looked modern and cool……. now look at them. The original shell needs to be kept, and also it bring the sort of w@nkers to Stokes Croft that I think a lot of people who live in the surrounding area dont want…… STAY IN CLIFTON!

  4. I think the most important issue is the respectful restoration of the buildings themselves. In my eyes that should be the foremost concern. If the developers go ahead with their intended plans, I do not think this will be the case.
    As for the ‘caged’ community comments; I agree with Ole Rudd about the 5102 building; this is a prime example of a block of flats which lend absolutely nothing to the surrounding area.
    My main bug with this proposition is with the developers who are allowed to purchase such properties, with absolutely no concern for the building or surrounding community as they then have the audacity to sit on it and allow the building to fall into appalling stated of disrepair and vandalism. This is where the true guilt lies; it should not be so easy for the greedy buggers to get the hands on it, to then let it deter ate without the bat of an eyelid.

  5. The site has been wilfully neglected by the owners for the past 22 years to the detriment of the surrounding business and local community, I do not believe it is right by any stretch of the imagination that these ‘developers’ should benefit from this dereliction, rather I believe that the community deserves to be compensated for the past 22years.

    The Linden Development is ugly and not at all in keeping with the character of the area, but I guess this is all part of the inevitably of ‘progress’ and the destruction of community.

  6. There is also another gated community on Wilson Street in St Pauls, myself and people I know have tried to gain access to it to deliver community newsletters before and have been met by frightened looking residents who have shooed us away, one of the residents even called the police when someone I know tried to deliver newsletters there?? (she doesnt look particularly scary, just a black woman) Gated communities tend to breed this kind of ‘fortress’ us and them mentality which is not good for communities. People glide out in their cars, not really contributing to the local economy and then drive back in and close the gates as quick as possible.

  7. “The current proposal means the look of Stokes Croft changing to some samey housing development block of flats that our popping up all over Britain at the moment, think 1960’s tower blocks right, then they looked modern and cool……. now look at them. The original shell needs to be kept, and also it bring the sort of w@nkers to Stokes Croft that I think a lot of people who live in the surrounding area dont want…… STAY IN CLIFTON!”

    This just about says it all. Who are you to decide who lives in “your’ area? And who are you to decide who everyone else wants to live here? Wanker yourself.

  8. There certainly is already a gated community here. From Stokes Croft, go down City Road. Twenty yards on your right, there’s a … oh, wait … it’s a hippy gated community!! Well, that must be alright then.

    God, you people are such bloody hypocrites! At least the people in the 5102 building are mostly paying council tax.

  9. “Dave, there is already a local community group, Love Bristol, who have been working on a design more in tune with the aspirations of local community. The development will be privately funded, I believe white Design, (eco- Architects) are involved. Love Bristol are attempting to negotiate purchase from the Comer Brothers, and so are limited as to how much they can say at present… Much of the funding is apparently in place…
    Best,
    Chris”

    Chris
    You have no basis for your contention that Love Bristol’s designs are more in tune with the aspirations of the local community than are the designs of the Comer Brothers. The views of the community are represented by its elected representatives, and not by you. You may call yourself the People’s Republic, but in fact that is exactly what you are not. You believe in taking direct action against our mandated representatives, so your behaviour is strikingly anti-democratic, and anti-popular.

    If the Comers agree to sell Westmoreland House to Love Bristol, then well and good; Love Bristol can dispose of Westmoreland House as they see fit, subject to the appropriate planning consents. Otherwise, Westmoreland House remains at the disposal of the Comer Brothers. They are under no obligation to sell up to the developers of YOUR choice.

    Incidentally, do you think you could possibly place on record whatever connection obtains between you and Love Bristol, even if any such connection is purely social and not in any way financial? Alternatively, can you state unequivocally that there is no such connection, whether social or financial? I do not mean to imply that there is any such connection, as I am entirely in ignorance about this. Nevertheless, I think it would be for the good of everyone, yourself included, if you clarified this matter.

  10. I have no connection with the Comers. Indeed, the first time I ever heard of their existence was half an hour ago, when I discovered this site

  11. “There certainly is already a gated community here. From Stokes Croft, go down City Road. Twenty yards on your right, there’s a … oh, wait … it’s a hippy gated community!! Well, that must be alright then.
    God, you people are such bloody hypocrites! At least the people in the 5102 building are mostly paying council tax.”

    Scuse me. As far as I know, there is no hippy gated community twenty yards down City Road. But there is one twenty yards down Ashley Road. And that’s what I meant to refer to. The rest of my comment stands.

  12. “There is also another gated community on Wilson Street in St Pauls, myself and people I know have tried to gain access to it to deliver community newsletters before and have been met by frightened looking residents who have shooed us away, one of the residents even called the police when someone I know tried to deliver newsletters there?? (she doesnt look particularly scary, just a black woman) Gated communities tend to breed this kind of ‘fortress’ us and them mentality which is not good for communities. People glide out in their cars, not really contributing to the local economy and then drive back in and close the gates as quick as possible.”

    Most of this applies to Chalkley’s mates in the hippy gated community in Ashley Road. Visit not wearing the appropriate countercultural uniform, and you will indeed be met by frightened-looking residents with a fortress us-and-them mentality. People may not glide out of their modern emission-controlled cars, but they most certainly do glide out of their diesel-belching hippy vans. They mostly do not pay council tax, unlike the residents of mainstream gated communities, but they drive back in and close the gates as quickly as possible.

    Bloody hypocrites.

  13. “The site has been wilfully neglected by the owners for the past 22 years to the detriment of the surrounding business and local community”

    How do you know the neglect was wilful? Perhaps they wanted to develop the site, but were for various reasons frustrated in this purpose.

    I do not believe it is right by any stretch of the imagination that these ‘developers’ should benefit from this dereliction, rather I believe that the community deserves to be compensated for the past 22years.”

    So, as soon as they start doing something about it, you make it your business to stop them.

    “The Linden Development is ugly and not at all in keeping with the character of the area,”

    You may think so. Others may differ. I’ve certainly seen worse.

    “but I guess this is all part of the inevitably of ‘progress’ and the destruction of community.”

    I think what you mean by this is that there is likely to be an influx of people who do not share your countercultural outlook. The influx of people is very much more likely to revitalize than to destroy the community.

    It seems to me that you are addicted to unreason. How tedious.

  14. “Richard Craven. This is not a debate. Its a monologue. Your are boring now. And wrong.”

    Since I only comment in response to the comments of others, this is clearly not a monologue. Boring I may be; wrong, quite possibly – although you haven’t informed me in what my error consists. But at least I endeavour not to abuse English terminology.

  15. Richard

    You go through line by line, misintepreting and reinterpreting text. You do so on a massive scale. Not just on this site but elsewhere. It is impossible to respond to someone doing this. You are not seeking to debate. You are seeking to disrupt debate.

    From your sneering contempt for everyone and obsession with mistyping, my guess is that your are a misanthropic academic?

  16. Hi Harry

    “Richard, You go through line by line, misintepreting and reinterpreting text. You do so on a massive scale. Not just on this site but elsewhere. It is impossible to respond to someone doing this. You are not seeking to debate. You are seeking to disrupt debate.”

    I certainly do go through text line-by-line: I pay close attention to what people say, and I respond to it. In doing so, I find that many of my interlocutors – yourself included – commit blatant logical inconsistencies, and are often committed to absurd positions as a consequence of the beliefs which they espouse. For instance, I believe it was you (tell me if not, and I’ll retract) who recently accused me of delivering monologues. Since much of my comment consists of the pastings of others’ comments, my comments are pretty much all NOT monologues. So you said something which is not true. What a pity you can’t handle me pointing this out.

    What I do is not the same as the misinterpretation of text, although it may occasionally amount to the reinterpretation thereof. I’m sure you do find this exceedingly difficult to respond to. Perhaps your present difficulties may motivate you to set out your opinions with more clarity. We can always live in hope. In short, I most certainly am not seeking to disrupt debate. On the contrary, my prevailing hope is for people to deliver themselves of considered, thought-through opinions without resorting to falsehood, hyperbole, inconsistency and related solecisms. This applies equally to those with whom I disagree and those with whom I agree.

    “From your sneering contempt for everyone and obsession with mistyping, my guess is that your are a misanthropic academic?”

    I believe you to be referring to a single occasion, when I pointed out that you wrote ‘they’re’ meaning ‘their’. I very much doubt that a solitary correction amounts to an obsession with typos. But don’t worry. You can always fall back on the accusation that, in pointing this out, I am misinterpreting or reinterpreting your text.

    I don’t have a sneering contempt for everyone, although I do discern something pathetic in those people who make a lot of noise but can’t express themselves properly. I’m not saying that you are one of these. However, if the cap fits, do by all means get under it.

    Lastly, well-guessed. I am indeed an academic. Whether that makes me misanthropic is moot. I think it doesn’t. For instance, I welcome the prospective arrival of the new inhabitants of Linden Homes and Westmoreland House; unlike some of your friends, who want them to ‘fuck off back to Clifton’.

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