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Docks developer accuses Bristol charity of dirty tricks


The developer of a controversial scheme for Bristol's historic docks has accused the Bristol Civic Society of dirty tricks in the run up to a public inquiry (AJ 10.1.02).

Richard Belman, director of developer Quada, claims the charity circulated misleading drawings in order to drum up opposition to the project.

The inquiry, which started last week, will decide the fate of a £17 million Barlow Henleydesigned scheme for the south side of the docks.

The Bristol Civic Society, with the support of English Heritage, is fighting plans to replace the existing McArthur's warehouse. It claims the redevelopment will have a negative impact on the docks conservation area. And it argues the height of the buildings will damage the setting of the Brunel steamship SS Great Britain.

Craig Begg, honorary secretary of the Bristol Civic Society, denied claims that the drawings it produced were inaccurate: 'I have heard no suggestion that people have been misled by them, ' he said.

The inquiry is being seen by some as a test case that could lead to a curbing of the society's influence on development in the city. But Bristol-based RIBA presidential candidate George Ferguson defended the 'well-informed' charity as 'very much part of the democratic process'. He added: 'I don't think architects should be afraid of them if they are confident in what they are doing.'

Barlow Henley's mixed-use scheme would replace an existing warehouse and consists of three buildings providing residential, commercial and retail spaces. Project architect Nick Henley defended it as a good example of a sustainable mixed-use scheme on a city centre brownfield site.

The inquiry is scheduled to complete this week.

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