Demolition.. and plans for the New Development
Generator Group was given Prior Approval on 26 January 2015 for its application to demolish several of the Victorian buildings on the factory site. Reports of machinery and loud noises sent in from people living next to the factory indicate that work associated with demolition began on 10th February 2015.
Members of the local community made sure to inform the developers and the city council of their opposition to the application for prior approval for demolition being submitted before the plans for redevelopment of the factory site are finalised. Interest amongst people from the local area is currently high. A significant proportion of the people who took part in our survey (see our Community Plan) expressed a hope that the developers will take into account the historic nature of the site, preserving at least some of the Victorian heritage.
Many people will be anxious to participate in commenting on the proposals for the development that will eventually go forward for planning permission. There are two sessions coming up at St Anne's Church, St. Leonard's Road, BS5 6JN
Friday 20th February - in the afternoon 4pm to 7pm
Saturday 21st February - in the morning 10am to 1pm
The developers have uploaded information on their website www.chocolatefactorybristol.com.
The Bristol Urban Design Forum has made some useful comments about the potential of the site, including points about the 'historic integrity' of the buildings. Scroll down to read more.
More details about the demolition: The report that gives reasons for the granting of approval for demolition is online at http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk Use reference number 14/06330/N in the search box. Under the 'Documents' tab you'll find links to documents that relate to the application. If you want to read the submission made by the ChocBox Community Association there's a link to a pdf file at the bottom of this web page. And for background information, everything you might wish to know about the requirements for planning permission for demolition is here.
The small image shown here is a screenshot of the demolition plan. In the image, the areas marked in green are the buildings to be retained. You'll see that the red-brick Victorian buildings will be demolished with the exception of the one behind Carlyle Road. The big 1950s building will be kept as will the 'shop front' on the corner of Turley Road.
Some advice for the developers - from the Bristol Urban Design Forum
In a letter dated 19 December 2014, the Urban Design Forum commented on plans that Generator Group had produced for the site.
In relation to Generator's plans for demolition, the Urban Design Forum (BUDF) said this:
The letter makes interesting reading. You can access it from the BUDF website http://budf.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Chocolate-Factory-Site-Ref-1114-response-letter.pdf or from the link at the bottom of this page. A rough summary of some of the points they made is as follows:
The developers' plans
Keep an eye on the website www.chocolatefactorybristol.com to find the latest plans and the dates and times for consultation events.
These consultation events are a necessary stage in the process of preparing the planning application; they are required to carry them out. The procedure gives the public several opportunities to give their views to developers and the local authority, and to provide relevant information that can improve the eventual development.Generator is planning to provide approximately 130 new homes, workshop units, a building for community use, and a cafe unit.
This isn't the first set of plans for the site:
In April 2013 the news came that the factory site, which had lain empty for some time (see History) had changed hands. The new owners, Generator South West LLP, commissioned an agency named Meeting Place Communications to carry out some consultation with the local community. Meeting Place is a Bath-based organisation which 'works with communities and developers to achieve successful planning outcomes'. It set up a website at www.chocolatefactorybristol.com, and this is the developers means of informing the public about their plans before the submission of an application to the City Council for planning permission for the site, which will then available to everyone via http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk.
The following describes what local people began doing in preparation for the arrival of developers and their agents. You will find more details about who we are on the FAQs page and the story of earlier plans and local involvement in the Chocolate Factory site on the History page.
People from the Greenbank area of Bristol set up this website in April 2013, having heard that a company had been commissioned to consult residents on behalf of a development company. It was twelve months before we heard from them again. During that time, a variety of local people had been meeting up to discuss the future of the factory site, and set up a Community Association.
Our mailing list has grown steadily and we have been holding regular meetings. As a Community Association, we are an officially organised group, connected with the local Neighbourhood Partnership and associated with the Bristol Neighbourhood Planning Network. We gathered what information we can from organisations acting for the owners, from the Planning department, and other interested and helpful groups and individuals, but importantly, we also began preparing for possible developments by finding out what local people think should be developed on the site and what other ideas and opinions they have.
We can expect that whatever is built on the site has to make a profit for anyone who owns it. Whatever is built must at least allow them to balance their books - so they will be looking for a scheme that repays them more than a few million pounds! The developers might be happy to hear about our dreams and wishes, but in the end they'll only include the ideas that are realistic given their own financial situation, the ideas that help make the site a financially viable one - and that's from their point of view. However, the planning law is on the side of the community.
The council actually requires developers to consult with local people - they have to do this work of finding out what the area needs. It is important for local people to say something about what life is like for people here and the changes we think would be useful and worthwhile.
In the winter of 2013-14 we surveyed the local community, distributing a questionnaire which people could fill in on paper, online, and over cups of tea and coffee at Open Afternoons held in a church hall. We went on to make a summary of the ideas, opinions and aspirations of local people which could be taken into account when planners and developers met to discuss possibilities for the site. Have a look at the Community Plan we produced.
These are some of the questions that local people have talked about in the course of the last two years:
Local people know more than others do about the flow of people in and out of the area - for example, hundreds of cyclists cross Greenbank every day on their way to or from the Bristol and Bath Railway Path, and many thousands of people a week cycle past the factory on their way into Bristol or out towards Bath - even more during the summer holidays.
People come to the corner shops, to the Islami Darasgah, and to visit Greenbank cemetery: and they used to come to brownies, a playgroup, yoga classes, arts groups, community music evenings and more when the building known as the Lego Church had a room available for public hire.
Further back in time
Read the History page to find out what happened in 2006/7 when we managed to stop a really badly thought-out housing estate being built on the factory site. The things the community group (Chocbox 1.0) did that were effective were:
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The factory from Co-Operation Road. Picture taken in 2006.
A view from the factory roof in 1923.
Packers Chocolate Factory provided recreation grounds for its workers. Picture from the Bowling Club website www.bristolgreenbank.org.uk
The factory viewed from the recreation ground (now fenced off by the City Academy, but not without a fight from local people).
Picture by brimmo http://www.flickr.com/people/brimmo/
Interior. Picture taken 2010, by rigsby www.flickr.com/people/beyondthefence/
Some old B&W pictures of the factory in use at http://www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/~rstephen/livingeaston/local_history/packers.html
Interior, 2009. Picture is from 28DaysLater.co.uk Urban Exploitation Forums
Interior, 2010. Picture by Oxygen Thief, also from 28DaysLater.co.uk