Much needed new homes for Filwood Broadway

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Councillor Tom Renhard, smiling, with trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes

In a recent blog, I wrote about Bristol’s housing crisis and the need to improve housing accessibility for everyone across the city. House prices are almost nine times the average salary, making Bristol the most expensive Core City to afford a house. The city urgently needs the delivery of new affordable homes to tackle this and achieve thriving and safe communities.

Launching The Living Rent Commission showcases our commitment towards achieving fairness for all. The commission aims to improve rent affordability in the private rented sector. By empowering tenants’ rights to make recommendations on possible rent stabilisation powers, and ultimately working with Westminster on policy development to reform the private rented sector in Bristol. We’ve worked with representatives across the housing sector, including renters through our Bristol renters survey and Renters’ Summit earlier this year. This provided us with a deeper understanding of the issues facing residents who rent and helps us look for solutions to tackle this.

As the city’s biggest social housing landlord, and its biggest landowner, we recognise the role we must play in meeting this housing need. We must build more houses to meet the housing demand. We are committed to building 2,000 homes each year, with 1,000 being affordable. Last year we beat this target as 2,563 homes were built. 90% of these new homes were built on previously developed land. These sites are often challenging but are an opportunity to recognise and provide wider community regeneration aspirations as well as provide much needed affordable housing.

Demolition job

Next week will mark the start of demolition works at 18 – 20 Filwood Broadway, a former cinema and bingo hall which has not been in use for decades. Approval to demolish the building was given in June 2019 following a planning application for 30 affordable homes with community and commercial space on the site.

We are grateful to residents who shared their views in the public consultation in December 2019 which looked through the draft design options. A second round of public consultation is now closed. The first phase of this work included removing asbestos on site and preparing the required structural works.

The planning application is for the creation of 30 dwellings comprising of ten one-bedroom units, eleven two-bedroom units, and nine three-bedroom units. In total there will be 17 flats and 13 houses, connected to a communal ground source heat pump system. This development will deliver as much social rent accommodation as possible, supported by an element of shared ownership housing where necessary to make the scheme viable.

We know that successful placemaking is key to the long-term success of our high streets and local centres – harnessing continued investment in new homes, to repair and reinvigorate existing neighbourhoods, strengthening physical connections between areas, creating vibrant, resilient and healthy communities. This is why the application proposes 595 square metres of flexible community and commercial floor space for shops, cafes, and the possible relocation of the public library.

The development will also include a new public space facing onto the Broadway and new trees and planting. There will be vehicle access from both Filwood Broadway and Barnstaple Road, along the new residential street. Pedestrian and cycle access will only be available from Hartcliffe Road. This work will help support a thriving community, ensuring that for local trips, walking and cycling become the most convenient option, and for trips further afield, public transport becomes a viable option. Public and private spaces will be clearly defined, accessible, well managed and safe.

The application for this was submitted in July this year and we expect a decision in the coming months. If planning permission is granted, we expect construction to commence in February 2024. More details about this regeneration work can be found on our website.

Note: An earlier version of this blog contained a typo regarding the date which this building fell into disrepair.