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Bristol Post
Bristol Post
Adam Postans

Hundreds of flats near M32 in Bristol approved despite concerns it will force more locals out of area

Councillors have unanimously approved plans for 358 flats in St Pauls despite concerns only one-fifth will be classed as affordable homes and locals are being priced out of the area. Bristol City Council development control committee members called the scheme near the M32, which includes blocks between four and 10 storeys, a central square, pedestrianised thoroughfare and 670sqm of commercial and business space, a “no-brainer” as they voted 8-0 in favour.

Officers had recommended granting permission and told the meeting on Wednesday evening (October 26) that the 20 per cent affordable homes – 72 apartments comprising 54 social rented flats and 18 “first homes” discounted to first-time buyers – complied with policy.

Places for People are the developers behind the proposals to breathe new life into the 1.6-hectare vacant plot in Dove Lane, the site of a former paper factory that was demolished over a decade ago. Cllr Fabian Breckels told the committee: “I really like it. It’s inner city, at the bottom of the M32, it’s a site that’s been allocated, I like the contemporary design and we desperately need the houses.

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“It is something of a no-brainer. I look forward to seeing the currently disused, redundant area transformed into providing housing that people need.” Cllr Lorraine Francis, who grew up in St Pauls, said there was no problem in principle with building homes on a site unused for many years.

But she said: “We are getting to a point in the area where local people probably will no longer be able to live there, even though many have lived there for decades.” Cllr Chris Jackson said: “It is a fantastic inner-city site, although I would have liked double the amount of affordable housing and double the 63 trees, which can be easily done.”

Cllr Guy Poultney said his only issue with the scheme was that councillors had to weigh two conflicting policies against each other. One was drawn up by the community in St Pauls in 2006 outlining the kind of housing they wanted in the area, including the expectation that one in five new homes should have at least three bedrooms and be family-sized.

The other, more recent planning policy insisted on higher density housing in central Bristol, which Cllr Poutney said was a “clash”. He said: “I do not like the idea of a community-led plan produced by local people to deliver a more balanced, sustainable community to have their proximity to the city centre as a justification to steamrollering that project and saying we just need more density and to cram more in, and that this neighbourhood just happens to be the one to take the brunt of it.

“St Pauls is a distinct community with a very proud history and I do not like it being treated as just another part of the city centre.” Most of the apartments would have one or two bedrooms, with 31 flats having three bedrooms, while all 18 “first homes” were one-bedroom.

Cllr Andrew Brown said: “I have one or two reservations, including the presence of this 10-storey block and the number of single-aspect flats in a number of the blocks including the one that will be social rent. But that’s a minor concern. It looks like a high-quality development.”

Head of development control Gary Collins said 20 per cent affordable housing in the central area was policy compliant, as long as work started within 18 months, so they could not insist on more.

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POLITICS: To keep up to date with latest Bristol politics news, and discuss thoughts with other residents, join our Bristol politics news and discussion here. You can also sign up to our politics newsletter here .

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