Friday, 3 July 2009

Blackberry Hill Hospital sold

It would appear that the Blackberry Hill Hospital site, adjacent to Grove Wood and overlooking a large part of the Frome valley has been sold off by the NHS. See the article below taken from a property related website:

The Homes and Communities Agency(HCA) and the North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) today announced that Blackberry Hill Hospital has been sold to the HCA, the government’s housing and regeneration agency.
Commenting on the purchase Colin Molton, Regional Director of the HCA in the South West said: “The Blackberry Hill hospital site provides an excellent opportunity to create a vibrant and sustainable new community in the heart of Bristol. We will ensure that the scheme delivers significant benefits not only to those who will come to live there but to the wider local community in terms of employment, community facilities and ripple effect it will have on other potential development sites in the area.”
The hospital, located in the Fishponds area of Bristol, has seen many changes over the last few years. With the majority of the hospital’s clinical services transferred to Frenchay and Southmead hospitals in 2005, and alternative community-based rehabilitation services provided by local PCTs, much of the 21 acre site was unused.
A proportion has now been released from NHS use. However the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust will continue to offer a range of health care services from its facility adjacent to the Blackberry site.
The HCA has identified the site as suitable for mixed-use development which when brought forward, may include shops, commercial space, community facilities and open space, as well as up to 350 new homes.
The HCA believes the development could bring significant benefits to the local community. The Fishponds area of Bristol has a need for more affordable housing and nearby Eastville has been identified as a Neighbourhood Renewal Area by Bristol City Council. It is anticipated that the Blackberry Hill development will act as a catalyst for further regeneration projects in and around the area.
As with all HCA projects, the development will include extensive consultation with local community and stakeholder groups, and will meet the HCA’s quality design and environmental standards.
In order to facilitate the smooth transfer of the remaining healthcare services on the site, the North Bristol NHS Trust will lease the site until the end of November 2009 when the Education and Training Department will transfer over to the new Learning & Research buildings at Southmead. The Trust will also continue to lease the premises for BRACE Charity for Alzheimer's research and the Regional Quality Control Laboratories until July 2010.
Sonia Mills, Chief Executive of North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “The sale of North Bristol NHS Trust’s land at the Blackberry Hill site is a significant step. The money raised from the sale will be used to help repay the historic debt and forms part of our agreed debt repayment plan.”

I would have to dispute the need for affordable housing in Fishponds as the area will be left with a glut of empty rented property when the hospital/faculty for social care closes. Fishponds doesn't suffer with a lack of such housing at the moment, with prices generally below other areas in the city. Also, surely the roads locally will be unable to handle a development of this size.
Will we find open spaces which are within the hospital boundary are also swallowed by the developers? What price the Laundry Field?


Unknown said...

This will need very careful watching. There is already a glut of 1 & 2 bedroom flats of the kind favoured by developers to maximise their profits. Traffic will be a serious problem - Manor Road is already jammed with traffic during peak times. A further 350+cars in the area will do nothing to help that. I feel a campaign coming on...

Martyn said...

The site already has a vibrant and sustainable community - students practicing for the health and social care professions, and mental health patients being cared for in the local community. Converting this property to private flats will radically alter the culture of the area. Presumably this includes the University of the West of England's (UWE) Glenside campus but their role in all this is unclear. Did they rent their site from the PCT or are they selling off their part to fund their development further out at Frenchay?

At present the campus is open to the public who can enjoy a pleasurable walk round the site. As well as the amazing pennant stone buildings, originally built to house French prisoners from the Napoleonic War, there are some amazing tree specimens. It is a beautiful space which should remain open to all because in an era of bland contemporary architecture it is good to be able to appreciate historic buildings such as these, especially of particular local historic value.

stevem said...

Was Laundry Field part of the sale? I think this is part of the landholding, so we could potentially see a mixed use development right across that field.

Unknown said...

Glenside is separate from Blackberry Hill Hospital which occupies the site on Manor Road - formerly known as Manor Park Hospital. The name is totally misleading. As quite a few of the Blackberry Hill buildings are remnants of the Napoleonic wars they may be listed.
UWE owns (as far as I know) the part of Glenside which it currently occupies and is definitely moving both Glenside and St Matts campuses up to Frenchay, selling off the sites, both of which are full of listed buildings and so possibly of less interest to developers. The timescale for these moves is within 2 years for St Matts and slightly longer for Glenside, but UEW will definitely be vacating both site as soon as it possibly can to escape the massive costs of maintaining the listed buildings. The combined effects of these changes could have huge implications for the whole area. Laundry Field for a town green, perhaps?

Unknown said...

Also, the secure unit, Fromeside, is at the back of the site, which is quite recently constructed, and is adjacent to Laundry Field, in fact they used a chunk of the field to build it. Presumably they won't be building cheek by jowl to a secure unit?

stevem said...

So who owns Laundry Field then - the UWE or the hospital. We need to know this quite urgently, so that we can make sure this area does not become concreted over as so much of Bristol is about to be.

Unknown said...

Laundry Field must belong to the NHS, UWE's land is not adjacent to it at all.

Steve Comer said...

I think there is some hope in the fact that the sale is to the Homes and Communitiies Agency. Their Chief Executive Bob Kerslake has made it very clear in a number of interviews I've seen that he does see the role of the new agency as building stable communities not just units of housing.

Development will always be difficult, but despite the economic situation there is a demand for housing, and we can't go on letting developers build more 'Bradley Stokes' in the green belt around Bristol.

Whilst Fishponds does have more flats than it did, there is a big shortage of social housing for rent, and I see most weeks how difficult it is to get people re-housed in this area.

Mogz said...

Certainly it would make sense for the existing buildings to be converted to flats in their existing formats. There is no need to shoehorn 350 more houses onto the site.
Likewise in my opinion every new development of appreciable size should come with a selection of cheap to rent lock up shop units to encourage local independant traders to service these communities (certainly no more faceless chains). But the over-riding problem here is traffic and access. I fear there's certainly no easy way around that one!
As an additional point, what will be the impact on the increased sewerage and drainage issues on Grove Wood?

Martyn said...

I think stable communities should develop themselves, organically over time via different influences, and not dictated by our nation's mindset of obsession with property. This is a top-down approach to developing communities - rather than bottom-up - and one which the profiteers will always argue some benefit for society, as just happened with the Chocolate Factory at Greenbank.

Why can't Bristol's abundant empty offices be developed into residential spaces, instead of changing Bristol's historic architecture and green space?

stevem said...

I think Mogz's comment about the impact of development on Grove Wood is of greatest concern to Snuff Mills Action Group. If new sewers were needed the authorities would have the right to churn up whatever part of the woodland they liked as it is counted as statuory works.

I'm also worried about the future of Laundry Field. It makes a useful link between Fishponds and Snuff Mills for people and wildlife and while developers (whether they are commercial or government backed) would argue we have plenty of greenspace around here, I personally would not like to see it sacrificed.

markL said...

careful watching of this is essential and I look at the HCA website on a regular basis to see if any news is forthcoming - so far none. However her is a link (you may have to cut and paste) to the press release from the North Bristol NHS.

I shall over the next few days be writing to the HCA to ask to be included in any discussions regarding development of the site and as such will hope to keep people updated.

Martyn said...

Signage was erected today to restrict public access to Laundry Field. They state - "Private Land: Access prohibited except for the use of the public footpath, please keep to the footpath and keep dogs on a lead"

Photos here:

stevem said...

So much for a sustainable development that is only within the footprint of the existing site.

Such a sign is put up to prevent people claiming use as of right, so the clock is now ticking and we need to organise a meeting and get someone to organise a town green registration as for Grove Wood.

Anonymous said...

The idea of keeping to a footpath in Laundry Field is ridiculous. The has been open space and people have roamed across Laundry Field for years and who knows where the footpaths are anyway.

It's very heavy handed and has been done before any plan has been submitted or public consultation has taken place. Time to make a real fuss about this latest saga.