Finding new and innovative ways to build housing is a key part of our plans to meet ambitious targets for much needed affordable homes across the city. One way to do this is to work with local communities to enable them to build the homes that best reflect the needs of the neighbourhood.
A key example of this approach can be found in Southmead, where we are supporting an ambitious regeneration and housing delivery programme.
The community-led Southmead Masterplan was published in 2018 by the Southmead Development Trust (SDT). It is a community-led development project where the stakeholders and wider community meet on regular basis to review development progress and contribute to decision making.
The plan aims to deliver around 230 new homes in central Southmead, with a mix of new affordable and market housing options, including a development of community-led housing at Glencoyne Square. These new homes will add to the 474 affordable homes we built in 2021/22 and the 1,300 new affordable homes currently being built across the city. Goram Homes, our council-owned housing company, has a pipeline of more than 3,100 new homes – half of them affordable – alongside the around 11,000 homes our administration has helped get built in Bristol since 2016.
Planning permission for 120 new homes was granted in 2021, but the scheme has since been re-designed to improve viability. The new scheme, which is currently going back through planning, is expected to provide up to 187 homes – of which around 66% will be affordable – alongside a new shared library, advice and learning hub, community enterprise space and a health and well-being hub. It is hoped work will start on site next year, subject to planning approval.
Unfortunately, the re-location of Southmead Health Centre has not been possible due to unavailability of sufficient match funding from the NHS. Instead, the proposed health centre area within the new scheme will be replaced with a smaller health and well-being hub, allowing SDT to provide additional new homes, with the current health centre expected to remain on its current site rather than move across.
Implementation of the plan is being undertaken over several phases, and we have already delivered a range of improvements to the Arnside Road district centre and shopping area. Public realm and sustainable urban drainage improvements to Arnside have been completed and opened to the public in May 2022, making the high street a more attractive, safer and eco-friendly place to visit. We have also purchased the White Hall site, which will be used for new council owned homes, while still retaining play facilities on the adjourning park site.
As with any big project of this size, there have been some challenges along the way. We were very disappointed when ALDI made the decision to not expand their anchor store. We had already done a great deal of work, alongside Southmead Development Trust, to relocate services that took place in the youth centre to a newly refurbished space at the Ranch – Southmead Adventure Playground.
Southmead Library has also been moved – taking up a temporary space at Southmead House before a new purpose-built home is created for it as part of future development in the area. We are keen to make sure that the library and youth centre buildings do not stand empty, and they are currently being used to provide day care services and sports classes. In the longer term, we are considering if they could be suitable for additional homes.
In 2019 we received £3.6 million of Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) funding from Homes England to support the delivery of the masterplan, and we have already committed £7 million to help fund the non-residential space at Glencoyne Square. Cabinet will consider a further £620,000 investment to support the scheme, following ALDI’s decision not to expand its store, and to cover other rising costs.
Bristol is a rapidly growing city and is currently undergoing much transformation. Our regeneration programmes stretch from Bedminster to Temple Meads, St Judes’s to Broadmead, and also include Western Harbour, Hengrove, Filwood and Lockleaze. We need to keep working together to make sure that Bristol grows well, with local communities benefiting from the change happening on their doorstep. Regeneration will bring city-wide benefits so that everyone can thrive.
We have a vision to create vibrant communities with sustainable, inclusive economic growth. Quality affordable homes and job opportunities will be in locations where we can have reliable, frequent public transport connections and be within walking and cycling routes.
The transformation of Southmead, including the provision of new homes, an improved town centre, and a healthy and inclusive local community will contribute to city-wide targets for housing and for developing economic and social opportunity and environmental sustainability.