AFFORDABLE HOMES: Plans for nearly 150 homes in South Bristol refused
Councillors have thrown out plans for nearly 150 affordable homes in South Bristol over design flaws and an overreliance on electric heating.
Sovereign Housing Association wanted to build 146 affordable homes in Bath Road opposite Arnos Court Park in Brislington.
Five blocks standing two to seven storeys high would have replaced a derelict tailoring factory and the vacant lot behind.
The housing association submitted revised plans after a planning committee gave it time to make changes to address their concerns in September last year.
But planning officers felt the changes were not significant enough and once again recommended councillors refuse the proposals.
They said Sovereign’s design alterations still left too many future occupiers with insufficient natural light.
Three quarters of the homes would have had electric heating, instead of the more efficient heat pumps that council policy requires in new housing developments, they added.
A spokesperson for Sovereign residents slammed the recommendation from Bristol City Council, calling it “irresponsible”.
Others from the housing association noted Bristol has 15,000 households on the housing waiting list and the council is failing to hit house building targets set by the government.
But committee members voted to reject the revised plans by six votes to one, while three abstained from the vote on Thursday, March 4.
Labour councillor Paul Goggin, who was homeless for a time, argued the housing crisis should not be an excuse for accepting housing that does not keep up with clean energy standards.
He said: “I know we need affordable housing. I know more than anyone else on this committee.
“But I’m afraid we’ve got to make brave decisions on sustainability.
“We shouldn’t just because we’ve got a housing crisis accept anything.”
Sovereign’s revised plans would have seen 143 one or two-bedroom apartments and three three-bedroom homes, along with parking for 97 cars and 280 bicycles, on the site.
Mark Sommerville, a planning agent for Sovereign, said it had increased the quality, privacy and amount of light in the units, 25 per cent would have air source heat pumps, and the rest would having “state of the art, high efficiency, low cost electric resistive heating”.
Joyce Ward, chair of the resident and board partnership within Sovereign and an affordable housing resident of over 11 years, said the council’s recommendation to refuse the plans was “totally and absolutely irresponsible” as it failed to take account of residents’ need to choose their energy supplier and control their heating bills.
But an officer said residents would be able to choose their heat supplier no matter what, and that electricity drove up heating bills and made the city’s heat network hard to decarbonise because it was less efficient than ground-source or air-source heat pumps.
The council has committed to Bristol being carbon neutral by 2030, and has shortlisted three firms to partner with it on a controversial £1billion project to decarbonise the city’s energy system. https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/three-firms-shortlisted-1b-zero-4742013
Gary Collins, the council’s development manager, said officers wanted to continue to work with Sovereign to address their concerns about design and heating.
“We’re sorry that we’re here with this recommendation, but for us the changes that have been made aren’t significant and unfortunately don’t tip the balance away from refusal,” he said.
Sovereign is one of Britain’s biggest housing associations.
It has recently paid £9.1 million to buy a large piece of land at Arnos Vale currently occupied by the City Motors group of dealerships.
Words: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter
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