Exciting news for Bristol: Branwhite Close development

Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured, smiling, out side City Hall, with College Green and trees in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery & Homes and Labour Councillor for Horfield Ward.

A development of much-needed new council homes in Lockleaze took a major step forward this weekend, as we secured ownership of the former pub on Gainsborough Square that needs to be demolished in order to allow work to begin.

In 2021/22, Bristol built 2,563 new homes – exceeding the Mayor’s ambitious manifesto target – and as the city continues tackling the housing crisis, we are looking to build 47 homes on disused land at Branwhite Close in Lockleaze. These will add to the 474 affordable homes built in Bristol in 2021/22.

In order to get the development site ready, we have been working hard to acquire two buildings: the former pub on Gainsborough Square and a privately owned home on Branwhite Close.

The pub on Gainsborough Square has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair for many years and the owner of the property was recently fined after failing to take care of the site, along with two other buildings in the city that they also own or manage. Following the second round of fines, some work was finally done to address some of the issues.

The derelict Gainsborough pub is pictured, with the perimeter boarded up to restrict access.

Several approaches were made to buy the pub at full market value. However, the owners were unwilling to sell, so to progress, the council made a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to acquire the property. The legal process is now complete, and we became official owners of the pub on August 27. The owner of the privately owned home has now relocated too and received a full compensation package.

Our housing teams have worked really hard to get this site ready for development, as we are committed to doing everything we can to tackle the housing shortage in the city.

The 47 homes that will be built on this site are part of the council’s New Build Housing Programme, regenerating brownfield sites to provide new high-quality homes across the city. To date 260 new homes have been completed.

The new build programme aims to deliver more than 1,750 new homes for the city over the next five years as part of a planned investment of over £1.8 billion in building new council homes. We are currently on site at six locations building 195 new homes, and we are also acquiring 300 new homes from developers including Goram Homes. We have a further 280 council homes on various developments due to start on site in the next twelve months.

An artist's impression of the Branwhite Close development is pictured, with cartoon people stood in front of new homes.

All these new homes will form part of our Project 1,000 plans, our ambition to see at least a thousand much needed new affordable homes built each year from 2024. Every property we build is important to the city, and we are exploring all options to accelerate our building programme further.

But it is not just about the number of new homes we build; we are committed to developing mixed and balanced communities, working hard to make sure any new homes are suitable for the surrounding local area. Lockleaze is going through a big transformation at the moment, and we are working hard to make sure all the developments complement each other, as well as developing community spaces and facilities for local residents to use.

The development will have a non-residential unit built facing onto Gainsborough Square. The exact use has not yet been decided, and we will be engaging with local community organisations and residents on potential options. We know that local people are keen to see the space used to benefit the community, which could include café or community space.

As well as enabling the housing development, the demolition of the pub will come as a relief to local people, as it has become an eye sore, and a target for fly tipping and graffiti in recent years.

Demolition is due to start on Branwhite Close later this year, and I look forward to finally being able to break ground on this site next Spring.

Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured, smiling, standing in front of the former pub on Gainsborough Square.