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Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ contentious Bristol plans win approval

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A controversial Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ scheme for 1,400 new homes in the south of Bristol looks set to be built after the development was granted outline planning permission

Last week, Bristol City Council’s development control committee approved the plans for a mixed-use development at Hengrove Park which will create a new district centre as well as shopping and commercial uses.

Various plans for the site, a former airfield which is currently open parkland, have been suggested over the last few decades.

In February, councillors rejected an earlier version of the scheme, saying its low housing density – 59 dwellings per ha – would result in an unnecessary loss of green space and a car-dependent community. They also said the scheme did not include a park of ‘destination’ quality and bemoaned a lack of community facilities.

Since then, the council says, ’significant changes’ have been made. The overall number of houses and apartments has been reduced by 65 and moved closer together, increasing housing density to 66 dwellings per ha. The size of the park has been increased, fewer trees are set to be felled, and walking, cycling and bus routes have been improved.

However, Sport England and many local residents still objected to the scheme.

The project, located off Whitchurch Lane, would be ‘the biggest housing development in Bristol for decades’, according to the council, and at least a third of those homes will be affordable.

The landscape architect is Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape and a key part of the plan is to transform the park from a flat open space frequented by dog walkers to something more distinctive.

The site includes over 24ha of parkland and destination play facilities and ‘several distinct character areas’, according to Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. The new homes will be a mix of houses and apartments, market and affordable, ranging from two to four storeys with the opportunity for some five storeys at particular locations.

Practice founder Alex Lifschutz told the AJ: ‘It’s an extraordinary place we’ve got here. It has got hospitals, schools and a sports centre, so in a reverse of the norm, all the facilities are already in place. The homes are being built along a very handsome main street that develops into the various different character areas.’

The homes are being built along a very handsome main street

Asked whether the density of the scheme was high enough, he replied: ‘It’s a judgement. There’s always a question: is it too high or too low? I’m sure there will be the opportunity to refine it as we go along. This isn’t a final blueprint it’s a plan, a first step, and we think it’s a really important step.’

On transport, he said: ‘We’re not worried about it being too car-dependent. The world is moving forward at a phenomenal rate. People will be using autonomous vehicles, guided buses, electric bikes.’

Lifschutz expects work on site to start at the end of 2020 with the scheme completed over a 10-15-year period.

Meanwhile, the council said it would work with Sport England to address its objections and agree the detailed design and specification of the sports facilities.

Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, said: ‘This is a really exciting step towards building one of Bristol’s largest housing developments in decades. It demonstrates our commitment to addressing one of the city’s most pressing and urgent priorities: making sure enough affordable homes are being built.’

Existing residents in the south of the city would benefit, he said: ‘As well as delivering well-designed, high-quality new housing with a mix of affordable and market sale homes, the development will include significant investment into the local community.’ 

lds hengrove park 2

lds hengrove park bristol october 2019

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