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BRISTOL: Hope for derelict building

BRISTOL: Hope for derelict building

Source: John Myers / Bristol Live

A decaying building in Barton Hill could be demolished and replaced with a mixture of affordable housing and community space, years after it was abandoned and left to rot.

Bristol City Council has revealed it intends to work with the community to redevelop the derelict former Barton Hill Tenants Association Club building on Avondale Road.

Heavily overgrown with ivy and weeds, the crumbling Victorian building lies in the heart of Barton Hill, a symbol of the neglect that many feel has blighted the neighbourhood in recent years.

Once a social club, it closed about a decade ago and has remained empty apart from the occasional squatters, falling into a squalid state of disrepair.

The Bristol Somali Community Association has been campaigning for nearly three years for the council to take action on the site, and wants it to become a space for the community, providing a library and youth centre.

Now the council has won a government grant of £200,000 it says it will use to demolish the building, if that is supported by the community, with a view to replacing it with eight affordable flats and a new community building.

A council spokesperson said: “The grant from the Brownfield Land Release Fund will meet costs to clear the site of Tenants Hall, the former Barton Hill Tenants Association Club building, creating the opportunity for a community-led project to build eight affordable flats and community space for local people on the site.”

The Government announced the winning bids for grants from the £75million Brownfield Land Release Fund earlier this month.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said 53 councils would use the £58million released to demolish derelict buildings, allowing a total of 5,600 new homes to be built without touching the countryside.

The council spokesperson said: “Under the conditions of the grant the funding covers capital costs which will largely be used for an asbestos survey and asbestos removal and demolition of the building if that route is supported by the local community.

“This will create a blank canvas for the site without the limitations posed by the existing building which an independent building survey showed us is in poor condition and would cost over £1.4m to refurbish and convert.”

The building survey, dated April this year, describes cracked masonry, “extensive water damage, deterioration and timber decay”, floors at risk of collapse, discarded needles, and loose debris and rubbish.

Completed by JLL and Arcadis, working with Arup and Mott MacDonald,  it concludes: “Overall, we consider the building to be in very poor condition and apart from the external masonry walls, we doubt that much of the existing construction, finishes or services can be salvaged and therefore recommend that complete replacement of these elements be allowed for.”

The consultancy firms estimate it would cost £1.25million to put the building back to use as a community hall, and £1.44million to convert it into five flats with nearly 500sqm of community space.

The council spokesperson said: “Clearing the site is also likely to create more opportunities for interested parties to work with the community to create a mixed use development subject to future funding.

“In line with our land disposal policy for community-led housing, the site clearance creates the opportunity for a community-led development through a long lease with a provision that the site is used for housing.

“We are having conversations with local community representatives and networks about the future development of the site.”

The community were given five years to bid to buy the building after it was listed as an asset of community value in 2016, but the bidding period expired in May of this year.

The Brownfield Land Release Fund is delivered by the One Public Estate programme which is a collaboration between the DLUHC, the Local Government Association and the Cabinet Office.

The council won £199,521 in September and formally decided to accept the grant on October 3.

Words: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter


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