What's the news?

December 2015 - News of New Plans for the site? 

We are expecting news very soon! Nothing seems to have happened since autumn began. However, ChocBox group is due to meet Generator, at their invitation, in the first week of December, and we will post what we can as soon as that's possible.

We had been expecting that a planning application would be submitted in September, since in mid August 2015 a postcard to nearby residents and a post to the developer's website www.chocolatefactorybristol.com) had indicated that this was going to happen. Earlier in the year (February 2015) they had held consultation sessions, at which thoughtful comments were made by a cross-section of local residents. Of course we don't yet know how much was taken up by the developers; we look forward to finding out how the ideas and knowledge of local people have contributed to the quality of the plan.

Earlier in the process, Bristol Urban Design Forum had made some useful comments about the potential of the site. Scroll down to read more.

Some interesting thoughts on the redevelopment - 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.

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:
  • Rethink the idea of having a single, central public space: currently the design suggests a more corporate environment (and the developer shouldn't miss) the opportunity to form a multiplicity of spaces for recreation, play, performance etc. A more ‘divided’ landscape would also have the advantage of providing a denser tree canopy which, apart from increasing the bio-diversity of the space, would offer more shelter in winter and shade in summer
  • Take up the opportunity provided to create an attractive feature with flowing water, using rainwater falling on the site
  • Rethink the idea of using conventional highway design .... revise the plan to give pedestrians priority and create ‘home zones’ and opportunities for on-street play ... rethink permeability to the existing community in Co-operation Road
  • Rearrange the roads and parking: at present the arrangement of roads and parking compromise the continuity of the landscape
  • develop innovative and less car-centred solutions to highway design, which will also allow more trees on the site
  • Rethink the idea of using materials and gabled forms that relate to the factory buildings along Co-operation Road... the Urban Design Forum thought that this verges on pastiche and risks devaluing the original – plus more comments about the architectural style and issues of shading.

The developers' plans

Keep an eye on the website www.chocolatefactorybristol.com to find the latest plans.

Generator's isn't the first set of plans for the site:

  • Back in 2008 we were looking at no demolition but a very dense development (Square Peg: retain all buildings, buy and use some adjoining land. 186 houses and flats, 6213 sq.m of business floorspace, 800 sq.m. of cafe type space, 330 sq.m. of community floorspace and a twenty-bed youth hostel/hotel). There's an illustration of this proposal on the History page.
  • In 2006 there was a plan for almost total demolition, and rebuilding on the factory site only (Persimmon: total demolition, build 108 houses and flats, 1591 sq.m. of office accommodation and 32 sq.m. cafe space)


The developers were given Prior Approval on 26 January 2015 for an application to demolish several of the Victorian buildings on the factory site. Work 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. 

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.

About Us

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.

Recent history

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 NetworkWe 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. 

The reality - the position for developers

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.

Collecting ideas from the local community: our survey of local residents

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:

Would it be good to have a care home in the area?

Do we need more family housing? What type? How big? Is there a need for housing for larger families? How many single-person flats can the area cope with? Would it work if the development consisted of more terraced streets, very similar to the ones we know and love?

How about a school? What type of school? (The Steiner Academy expressed a preference for the Factory site, but eventually set up in Fishponds, at the St Matthias site. See their website for information)

Changes in the population of area has resulted in the need for more health care - could part of the development be a Health Centre of some sort?

What kinds of people might come into the area to use any retail or enterprise facilities that are provided?

How could the new development benefit from the fact that so many people already use the Railway Path? Are there some enterprising ideas out there that integrate the use of the path and the factory site?

Could there be a self-build scheme on the site? What other innovative schemes are there that could provide affordable housing for Bristol people?

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:
  • encouraging people to think and talk about what was going on;
  • finding out what information and which opinions the planning officers were able to take into account when deciding whether to grant planning permission;
  • making sure as many people as possible had that information;
  • encouraging people to send in their responses to Persimmon's planning application;
  • getting lots of coverage in the local press and on the web.

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Bridges between the Victorian buildings. Picture taken in 2006

The factory in operation, mid 1940s. Picture from Hartley Collection of Glass Plates, M Shed, Bristol. See maps.bristol.gov.uk/knowyourplace

The factory from Co-Operation Road. Picture taken in 2006.

Aerial view of the factory. Taken way back when...

panoramic view of Packers recreation grounds
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).

Interior. Picture taken 2010, by rigsby www.flickr.com/people/beyondthefence/ 

Interior, 2009. Picture is from 28DaysLater.co.uk Urban Exploitation Forums

Interior, 2009. Picture is from 28DaysLater.co.uk Urban Exploitation Forums

Interior, 2009. Picture is from 28DaysLater.co.uk Urban Exploitation Forums

Interior, 2010. Picture by Oxygen Thief, also from 28DaysLater.co.uk 

Green Choc,
15 Jan 2015, 02:37
Green Choc,
15 Jan 2015, 02:36
Green Choc,
26 Jan 2015, 06:14