New high quality homes for Hengrove

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

We live in a rapidly growing city. We need to make sure that Bristol grows well, with local people benefiting from the change happening in their communities.

On Thursday, we confirmed that in the last year Bristol built 1,599 new homes, 309 of which were affordable, with more than 86% of these homes built on previously developed ‘brownfield’ land. In addition, 3,040 new homes are currently under construction as of 1 April 2023. This administration has got Bristol building, with 12,534 new homes built in the city since 2016, exceeding that of previous administrations.

We have set an ambitious target for building 1,000 affordable homes a year, with over 3,000 homes planned by the city’s council-owned housing delivery company, Goram Homes, and some 1,750 new council homes over the next five years as part of a total investment of £1.8 billion in building new council homes.

Our landmark Hengrove Park development on the site of the former Whitchurch Airfield in South Bristol will create add 1,435 high-quality new homes – making it the single largest housing development in Bristol.

Half of these homes will be council owned ‘affordable housing’ – a mix of social rented properties that will be available at around 50% of current market rent levels for people in the greatest housing need and shared-ownership homes providing an affordable route to home ownership. This means we are making more genuinely affordable housing available for people who cannot afford to pay market rents or would otherwise be unable to buy their own homes in Bristol’s current expensive housing market. 

Mayor Marvin Rees is pictured on the left of Councillor Tom Renhard, with red number balloons reading 12,534.

The new homes at Hengrove Park will be highly energy efficient, helping reduce energy bills for residents. An on-site Energy Centre will connect to a district heating network, providing low carbon heating and hot water to the new homes and local businesses.

At the centre of the new neighbourhood will be a high-quality new public park. We will be retaining and improving around 22 hectares of parkland and eco-friendly space, equivalent to the size of around 30 football pitches, linking to other local habitats like the Hengrove Mounds by a network of walking and cycling routes.

The council’s masterplan for the development also includes new community space, sports pavilion, new playing fields, and commercial or office space. 

Our housing company Goram Homes is leading the redevelopment of Hengrove Park and will bring forward the new homes in a number of phases over the next five to ten years.

Work is now underway

Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured second from the right alongside colleagues from Goram Homes. They are holding spades with a digger in the background.

The first phase is known as the ‘Bookends’ plot, and work on one of the buildings has already started. This is a key site at the heart of the development where Goram Homes and Hill Partnerships are building a 6-storey apartment building delivering 53 high-quality new council homes, a mix of social rent and shared ownership apartments, with space for shops, and potentially a cafe or community uses on the ground floor. We have been on site for four months now, carrying out infrastructure work, and we expect to start laying the foundations later this month.

This early phase also includes upgrading and enhancing the landscaping and public realm on Hengrove Boulevard, to help create a more vibrant centre at the heart of the emerging new neighbourhood. 

In June, Goram Homes selected Countryside Partnerships as their preferred development partner for the overall masterplan and submitted a planning application for the next major phase of development. 

This next phase, on land north of the boundary with The Bottle Yard Studios, will deliver a further 209 new homes (50% affordable council-owned homes and 50% for market sale). The new homes will range from one-bedroom apartments to four bed family homes, designed to make the most of the parkland and other green space at the centre of the development.

Goram Homes’ planning application also includes the design for the first phase of the new enhanced public park. With sociable spaces and picnic areas, a network of walking and cycling routes, new sports facilities, plus nearby play facilities for young people in the existing Hengrove Adventure Playground, we want the new public park to bring the community together.

Enabling projects

As part of our commitment to enhance the area, council teams are also working on other ‘enabling projects’ to help accelerate the delivery programme and improve community facilities and infrastructure in the area.

We have secured almost £20 million of Development Infrastructure Funding (DIF) from the West of England Combined Authority to support and accelerate the redevelopment of Hengrove Park by delivering some key infrastructure. This includes upgrading three major highways junctions locally to provide increased capacity for vehicles and deliver improved walking and cycling routes. One of these upgraded junctions, at Bamfield Road, has already been completed, with work currently underway at the other two junctions on Hengrove Way/ Airport Road and Creswicke Road.

Other funding, secured by the council, is also contributing to providing new, enhanced facilities for two important local sports and community groups so that they can continue and thrive in the local area.  We are working with St Bernadette’s Old Boys Rugby Club to construct new rugby facilities, including three new pitches, a clubhouse and changing rooms, on a previously derelict site at Fulford Road in Hartcliffe. We will also shortly be submitting a planning application to construct a new Scout Hut for the Hengrove and Whitchurch Park Scout Group which will replace their current building.  We will also shortly confirm a timetable for another key enabling project, the demolition of the former Whitchurch Sports Centre. 

As part of the masterplan for the area we have been very keen to make sure we are not just building new housing, but making sure that community facilities are developed, retained and enhanced. We understand that we need to invest in transport networks and infrastructure so people can work and learn. In addition, we all need to have access to eco-friendly spaces, and community spaces. We have done a great deal of engagement with the local community in Hengrove and Whitchurch Park and will continue to do so as further phases of the development progress. 

Moving forward, Goram Homes aims to partner with the City of Bristol College, creating opportunities for students to gain valuable experience in the construction of the major new development taking shape on the college’s doorstep. Other financial contributions secured as part of the council’s outline planning consent are contributing an additional £90,000 to the NHS to expand local GP services.

There are exciting times ahead for Hengrove, and I am looking forward to supporting the development continue to take shape over the next few years.