Bristol Central Area Action Plan: Options Consultation

Bristol Central Area Action Plan: Options Consultation


On 24th February 2012 Bristol City Council published its latest local development document for consultation. The Bristol Central Area Action Plan (“BCAAP”) Options Consultation looks at what various sites in the city centre could be used for and sets out draft policies that would be used to decide future planning applications in the city centre.

The BCAAP is a key Development Plan Document (“DPD”) forming part of the Bristol Development Framework, a series of documents that will eventually replace the existing Bristol Local Plan. The Bristol City Centre Strategy and supplementary planning documents have previously been prepared for parts of the area. These documents have helped to shape the BCAAP, as it has been developed to date, and will continue to be considered in determining planning applications once BCAAP policies have been adopted. The City Centre area has been enlarged to include St. Phillip’s north of the Feeder Canal, Newfoundland Street area and the former Bath Road diesel depot site (see map below).

The City Council is inviting any comments on the draft BCAAP up until 20th April 2012 and responses could make an important contribution in the future iteration of the document. The City Council currently forecasts that the BCAAP will be adopted towards the end of 2013.

A Vision for Bristol’s City Centre

Through the BCAAP, the City Council have set out its aspirations on how it aims to significantly strengthen the regional, national and international reputation of Bristol’s City Centre by 2026. A cornerstone of the strategy is the drive for a ‘thriving’ city centre consisting of well-connected neighbourhoods, each with its own distinctive character.

Major mixed use development will occur through an extension to Newfoundland Street and at the recently established Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, which will provide an important gateway for major business investment and employment. The Enterprise Zone will benefit from discounted business rates for occupiers and a simplified planning regime that uses Local Development Orders (“LDOs”) to extend the range of developments permitted without the need for a planning application. The Council have recently consulted on an LDO for temporary (for 5 years) uses at ‘Plot 3’ within the Enterprise Zone.

The shopping centre at Broadmead will be a focus of renewal and growth, with improved connections to the rest of the city centre, particularly by transforming Nelson Street. Community-led planning will be at the forefront of initiatives to regenerate and reconnect Redcliffe and in the continuing regeneration of Old Market, Stokes Croft and the ‘inner east’ communities such as St. Paul’s and Easton.

The City Council intend to reduce the impact from traffic through a more integrated transport network. Plans for a new rapid transit system are being pursued by the Council, with the intention of making the city centre more accessible and to bring about significant investment in the public realm.

All new development will be expected to deliver high standards of sustainable design as part of a cleaner, greener and healthier mixed-use city centre environment.


The adopted Core Strategy for Bristol sets out that around 7,400 new homes will be provided in the city centre over the period 2011 to 2026 (Policy BCS2).

A balanced mix of housing types, including some family housing with an element of outdoor amenity space, will be sought in all residential development within the city centre. Residential schemes in Old Market, Stokes Croft and within the ‘inner east’ communities will be expected to contain a significant proportion of family housing.

An element of residential development will be expected from all major developments in the city centre, unless flood risk considerations indicate otherwise, where an unacceptable loss of employment floorspace would occur or where land is identified for alternative uses. The conversion of upper floors of commercial premises for residential use will also be encouraged.

The adopted Core Strategy sets out that all residential development, irrespective of its size, will be expected to meet Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes (“CSH”) from 2016. Through the BCAAP, however, the City Council is currently considering what sustainable design standards should be introduced in the meantime for residential development in the city centre. One option is for schemes providing 10 or more but fewer than 100 dwellings to achieve CSH Level 5 from 2013, whilst the alternative option sets a standard for major residential schemes only, which is for CSH Level 6 and a BREEAM for Communities ‘Excellent’ rating to be achieved from 2013. The Council is now inviting views on which option would be best for the city centre.

Specialist housing

Larger schemes for new specialist student accommodation will be expected to include other uses. Active ground floor uses will be encouraged. The Council will also consider the balance of housing within the local area and will not permit development that would result in a ‘harmful’ concentration of specialist student accommodation. Quite how this is to be determined will need to be monitored.

Commercial offices

Around 150,000 square metres (net) of additional high quality office floorspace will be provided in Bristol’s city centre over the period 2011 to 2026 (Policy BCS2, adopted Bristol Core Strategy). Whilst the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone could well provide a significant proportion of this additional office floorspace, the City Council recognises that other strategic sites around the city centre may be suitable for an element of large format office development.

Flood risk could prevent some sites being suitable for office development. However, due to the need for those sites that are less at risk of flooding to accommodate a significant element of residential development, a certain amount of office development is likely to take place on areas of the city centre that are subject to some risk of flooding, for example Redcliffe, Broadmead, Nelson Street and Harbourside.

Retail development

Primary shopping areas will continue to be the focus for larger scale retail development. Any major demand for retail growth that emerges over the plan period (up to 2026) will be directed towards Broadmead in the first instance. Particular opportunities exist at Callowhill Court adjacent to Cabot Circus and to the west of Union Street.

Leisure development

The City Council will look to address the current imbalance between budget and other types of hotel within the city centre. Development proposals that would diversify the city centre’s hotel offer, such as through the provision of small-scale or boutique hotels, will be encouraged by the Council.

Movement and Public Realm

A number of primary pedestrian routes have been identified, which are explained in more detail in the Council’s accompanying Public Realm and Movement Framework document. New parking standards are to be issued within the soon to be published Site Allocations and Development Management Policies DPD (consultation period to commence on 23rd March 2012).

Key Sites

The BCAAP identifies a number of key city centre sites with the potential for development and where planning permission has yet to be obtained. We have been informed by the City Council that capacity studies for these sites have been undertaken, although this information is not currently in the public domain. This information may be included in future stages of the BCAAP.

A number of key potential development sites have been identified in the BCAAP:

  • West Purifier House, Anchor Road
  • Land and buildings south of Brunel Lock Road, Cumberland Basin, including A-Bond warehouse
  • Broad Quay House and Narrow Quay House, Broad Quay/Prince Street
  • National Westminster Court, Broad Street
  • Land to the north east of Cabot Circus car park, bounded by Houlton Street, Wellington Road and Newfoundland Way
  • The Carriage Works & Westmorland House, Stokes Croft
  • Former Bristol Evening Post printing works, Temple Way
  • Land and buildings between Hawkins Street, Jacob Street and Unity Street
  • Fire Station, Temple Back
  • Land and buildings at Victoria Street / Temple Street
  • Redcliffe Way Corridor
  • Redcliffe Wharf
  • Bristol General Hospital

Next Steps

The current consultation period on the BCAAP runs until 20th April 2012. This coincides with separate consultation being undertaken on the Bristol City Centre Public Realm and Movement Framework, which looks at how people will move around the city centre in the future and what could be done to improve its streets and public spaces.

A community involvement event is scheduled for 27th March 2012 which will provide the opportunity for views on the Area Action Plan and the City Centre Public Realm and Movement Framework to be shared with the City Council and stakeholders. This will be held at the Old Council House on Corn Street and the Council are currently inviting individuals to reserve places.

Further to the current stage of consultation the Council will consider the responses and publish an amended BCAAP for independent examination. It is anticipated that the updated BCAAP will be published towards the end of 2012/early 2013, with examination over the summer of 2013. The current forecast for adoption of the BCAAP is towards the end of 2013.

Stride Treglown Town Planning

If you have any queries about any of the matters contained within the emerging Bristol Central Area Action Plan please contact Stride Treglown’s Planning team, who will be able to advise you accordingly.

We have taken great care to ensure the accuracy of this advice note. However, the document is written in general terms and you are strongly recommended to seek specific advice before taking any action based on the information it contains. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. The contents of this advice note are not intended to comprise definitive statements, but rather offer the opinion of Stride Treglown and provide general guidance on planning issues.