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Imperial Apartments review 'very near completion'

By Estel Farell Roig

A council review into a former office block in South Bristol is "very near completion".

Just under three months ago, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees announced the council was to pause housing families with children at the controversial Imperial Apartments complex as he admitted there are "some challenges" at the site. At the time, the mayor wouldn't say whether the existing families at the site would be moved out, but confirmed that the review will look into this.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said today (May 12): "The review is very near completion and we continue to have a pause on nominating families with children under 18 to the flats."

READ MORE: More than 100 children living at converted south Bristol office block

In recent months, BristolLive has reported on many concerns from residents at the former Parkview office complex in Hengrove - now known as Imperial Apartments. Earlier this year, the Bristol South MP asked the council to stop housing families with children at the development, with the Lib Dems then joining the call and one councillor urging the council "to take responsibility".

More than a hundred children are currently living at Imperial Apartments. There are 465 units of private rented accommodation at Imperial Apartment and Bristol City Council rent out 316 of them, more than two-thirds of the total. With 108 children there in total now, this would mean that up to a third of those have children living in them.

Back in August 2020, Bristol City Council revealed it was planning on housing people in the converted office block in South Bristol. Initially, the council agreed to take on 216 properties at Imperial Apartments and, at the time, housing chiefs at Bristol City Council admitted they had concerns about teaming up with a developer accused of creating “human warehousing” - but said they were "determined to make this development a success and thriving community in which to live".

Do you live at Imperial Apartments? What do you think about living there? Our reporter Estel would love to hear from you. You can contact her directly on estel.farellroig@reachplc.com

One of the studio flats at Imperial Apartments in Hartcliffe (BristolLive)

The complex was being redeveloped by Caridon, a company which was the subject of a Newsnight investigation as residents in one of their developments in London complained to the journalists about overcrowding and the mix of people, speaking about violence and substance misuse.

Caridon turned it into homes without the need for planning consent under permitted development rights, which meant the usual regulations stipulating minimum sizes did not apply. According to the floor plans submitted to Bristol City Council, studios at the development start at 18m2 - which is smaller than the average 29m2 shipping container - while the two bedroom flats at the site start at 38m2 and go up to 76m2.

The law was then changed and it now requires new homes built under permitted development rights to be over 37m2, with two-bedrooms units being a minimum of 61m2. In March 2021, the council then agreed to make more units at the site and, out of 465 units of private rented accommodation at Imperial Apartments, Bristol City Council now rents out 316 of them - more than two-thirds of the total.

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