Heritage group says proposal will wreck views of city centre

Historic England has written to Bristol city council formally objecting to a seven-storey office block by AHMM being planned for a well-known harbourside site in the city.

The heritage advisor said if the development at historic Floating Harbour went ahead it will “harm the setting of the grade I listed Bristol Cathedral” and block important views of the city centre.

The AHMM team was appointed at the beginning of last year after the city council held an open competition for the site which is being masterminded by developer Bell Hammer and funder, the Railways Pension Scheme.

ahmm 1

A decision on the scheme is due next month

But Ross Simmonds, acting regional director for Historic England in the South West, said it was unimpressed by what AHMM had come up with: “We are concerned about how this scheme would impact the character and people’s appreciation of this historic part of the city centre.

“It would have a detrimental effect on views from the Floating Harbour up to the cathedral and cityscape beyond.”

He added Historic England was not opposed to development but said “this scheme is not good enough to justify the damage it would cause to the City Docks conservation area”.

The pension fund applied for full planning permission for a mixed-use development of offices, food and alcohol outlets at the site, which is largely undeveloped. The harbour was created in 1823 and overlooks the meeting point of the river Frome and the Avon.

Simon Hickman, development advice team leader at Historic England, said: “We recognise the potential of the Waterfront site. The right scheme in this location could make a positive contribution to Bristol, but any proposal for this site must equal in quality the outstanding surrounding cityscape.”

The news comes after Historic England objected to proposals for St Mary le Port in the centre of Bristol, the site of a ruined parish church, saying the scale and massing of the proposed replacement buildings “would not respond to the historic character of Bristol’s Old City”.

Waterfront Place site 2021 Historic England (Simon Hickman) 3

How the Waterfront Place site currently looks with views to the cathedral in the distance

Others working on the scheme include project manager Gardiner & Theobald and cost consultant Currie & Brown. M&E engineer is Hoare Lea while structural and civil engineer is AKS Ward.

The council is expected to make a decision on the application by 14 January next year.

AHMM and Bell Hammer are working together on another site in Bristol called Assembly, a mixed-use scheme in the middle of the city which is also being developed by Axa Real Estate.

The £50m Building A was completed by Galliford Try earlier this year and has been let to telecoms firm BT with the firm beginning work on Buildings B and C over the summer.