BRUNEL HOUSE, CITY OF BRISTOL, COLLEGE ROAD, BISHOPSTON, BRISTOL 15/06289/F
103 residential dwellings including the conversion of Brunel House and new-build block of 40 flats. This proposal marks the final phase of what can only be considered as the unsuccessful regeneration of the listed Muller Homes buildings within the Ashley Down conservation area.
Whilst the refurbishment and conversion of the existing buildings has generally been carried out with care and sensitivity, it has to be said that the new buildings granted planning permission have been almost without exception of poor design and quality and unsuitable for their location within a conservation area and within the setting of a listed building. The result is that the area has absolutely no presence, despite its fine listed buildings. The prime example is the ‘enabling development’ of 5/6 storey flats within the cricket ground which is over-scaled and shows no respect for its surroundings. This is not to say that modern design solutions are by definition inappropriate, but simply that any development within a historic setting regardless of its style should show awareness of the scale, massing, detail and materials of the existing buildings. New buildings adjacent to listed buildings should provide an appropriate setting for those listed buildings and the whole should be in harmony.
We are very pleased to see that Brunel House is to be converted into residential use and restored to its former glory. However, the large block of 4-storey flat roof apartments proposed on the former car park at the western end is totally out of keeping with the existing building. The block is described as ‘slender’ when in fact it is extremely bulky, deep-plan and close to the existing building. Great play is made of the use of ‘continental grey bricks‘ to imitate the Pennant Stone of the existing building, when of course the building should be clad with real stone to match the existing. The form and massing of the new block is domineering in the extreme and would stand out as a sore thumb within this setting.
Our last concerns are firstly regarding the affordable housing content within the proposal. We feel that given the high value location of the site and the huge need for more affordable housing within the Bristol area, the development should include the minimum affordable housing content required by Bristol City Council. Lastly we are concerned that only 54 car parking spaces are proposed for a total of 103 dwellings, partly as a result of building the new apartments on the existing car parking. This low parking ratio will clearly serve to exacerbate the existing parking problems within the local area.
In conclusion, whilst we are fully supportive of bringing Brunel House back into residential use, we would recommend refusal of this application as it stands.