Hartwells Garage, located along Newbridge Road, officially closed down at the start of 2019. It is identified as one of B&NES Council’s housing allocation sites in the Local Plan; it was acquired by the Oakhill Group Limited with the intention to redevelop this brownfield site and secure its long-term use. Approval has been secured at Public Inquiry; as of 2022, development had not yet commenced on site.
2020/2021 – Planning Appeal & Public Inquiry
This decision was appealed at the end of 2020 and was determined by Public Inquiry in 2021. BPT was represented by our Senior Planning and Conservation officer who spoke against the scheme, citing amongst other points that the provision of student accommodation on the site would preclude the policy-compliant provision of family housing. Our statement to the Inspector is available here.
In March 2021, the scheme was allowed. The Planning Inspector felt that the delivery of 104 dwellings on the site would exceed the local policy housing target of 80-100 dwellings, and therefore this would not exclude the provision of student accommodation. Whilst the mass and deep plan of the proposed housing blocks were acknowledged to be different to the surrounding Victorian houses on Newbridge Road, the inspector concluded that the scheme would be an improvement on the current Garage site which had been identified as a ‘detractor’ to the local area by B&NES Council.
2019 – Pre-Application Consultation & Application for Mixed Use Student & Residential Redevelopment of the Site
In January 2019, BPT engaged in pre-application discussions regarding a new scheme. Whilst we emphasised our in-principle support of brownfield regeneration to support new residential accommodation, we questioned the large amount of student accommodation proposed alongside a smaller amount of residential apartments. The emphasis of Policy SB15 was the delivery of “residential development of around 80-100 of dwellings, which could include a variety of specialist older persons housing types but not student accommodation”. We raised concerns with the cumulative visual effect of the scale, height, massing, and depth of the proposed residential blocks, as well as the lack of housing mix beyond 1-2 bed apartments. At this early stage, we indicated that we would likely object to the scheme when it came forward as a planning application.
Read our 2019 pre-application response here.
We subsequently opposed outline planning application 19/01854/OUT for 180 student beds and 105 small apartments on similar grounds. We maintained that the student accommodation element of the application would be unacceptable and we maintained strong concerns with the height, depth, and design of the proposed building blocks.
Read our response to the 2019 planning application here.
The scheme was refused by Councillors at Planning Committee, where BPT called for the application to be refused on grounds of:
- The provision of student accommodation, despite a policy-compliant provision of residential housing (105 apartments), which is therefore in breach of site allocation Policy SB15.
- Inappropriate layout and depth of plan form which would be uncharacteristic and alien to the locality, and as such would fail to enrich the character and quality of Newbridge and fail to contribute positively to local distinctiveness, identity and history.
- Failure to provide an appropriate mix of housing.
- Inadequate provision of outdoor recreation space.
- Inadequate provision of affordable housing.
2014 – Outline Planning Application for Redevelopment of Site for New Student Accommodation
In 2014, outline planning application 14/03977/OUT was submitted for 194 student bed spaces and a terrace of no. 14 70-bed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) along Newbridge Road. This initial approach proposed a two and a half storey terrace-style treatment along the roadside to emulate similar examples of terraces in the surrounding area. Whilst supportive of the residential redevelopment of the site, we emphasised an in-principle objection to the oversupply Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), particularly in an area characterised by family housing. Similar concerns with the volume of student accommodation were raised by the urban design officer. The application was subsequently withdrawn.
Read our response to the 2014 planning application here.