Dear Planning Department,
We have studied the Local Plan's Draft Policies in some detail and consider that the overall direction is positive for a more sustainable ever-expanding Bristol in the future.
We are supportive of the move towards densification in order to prevent the city expanding out into the Green Belt and to achieve a density which will support improved local facilities and public transport.
However there are two points which continue to give us concern with regard to future policy direction;
1.0 Draft Policy DC2: TALL BUILDINGS
When the question of densification was last put out for public consultation, we understand that, like ourselves, approximately 80% of respondents clearly stated that they were NOT in favour of planning policy promoting tall buildings in Bristol. We do not agree that tall buildings are an indication of a prosperous and forward looking city. The most highly regarded European cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Paris have banned high rise buildings within their historic centres, in order to preserve their historic heritage and in turn their appeal to visitors. Bristol also has a rich and varied historic heritage which needs to be protected and enhanced.
DC2 : TALL BUILDINGS promotes tall buildings....'where they would contribute positively to the character and function of the urban environment' for example in central Fishponds. Do we seriously consider that high rise buildings will enhance the character and function of Fishponds?
By contrast, Draft Policy DC3 :LOCAL CHARACTER AND DISTINCTIVENESS recommends ' An appropriate response to local character and distinctiveness'. It is difficult to think of any part of Bristol where a high rise building would provide an appropriate response to local character and distinctiveness. Bristol is not a high rise city and its character and distinctiveness can be more than adequately enhanced by mid-rise development like Wapping Wharf, which would save the city from the blight created by high rise buildings:
- detriment to the setting and views of historic monuments.
- detriment to the integrity of the historic fabric of the city.
- unwelcome environmental impacts to our streets and public spaces by overshadowing and wind-funnelling at ground level.
- sharp increase in the value of land in the city such that only high rise proposals are viable eg the Ambulance Station which has been increased in scale despite local protest, thus raising additional revenue for the city council.
- expense and difficulty of maintenance of tall buildings, as witnessed by Grendfell Tower.
- social exclusion created by tall buildings.
In short, Bristol does not want or need tall buildings. Tall buildings will not make Bristol special or more attractive as a city, but simply like all the other cities around the country like Leeds which have gone down this route. We should nurture the very special historic character of Bristol as proposed in DC3 and not disfigure it as proposed in DC2.
2.0 PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT
We are extremely concerned about the Government's proposals to extend the scope of Permitted Development to include UPWARD EXTENSION and DEMOLITION and redevelopment of existing buildings on our high streets, without the requirement for planning permission. We are all aware of the damage already done by Permitted Development with respect to domestic extensions, roof extensions, parking in front gardens and worst of all converting office buildings into sub-standard residential accommodation with NO requirement for affordable housing. The Government is supposedly using P D to stimulate the economy, whereas in fact the absence of development standards and the loss of affordable housing is a straight gift to the development sector at the expense of taxpayers and those on the housing list. Permitted Development has helped to lower the standard and design of new housing. We do not want to see this 'laisser-faire' approach to redevelopment spoiling our high streets.
Planning Advisor to the Bishopston Society