Baltic Wharf Development Will See Major Tree Loss On Harbourside

  • Around 74 trees could be lost if plans are passed
  • Social housing properties will be segregated from private and shared ownership homes

A large number of trees on the Harbourside in Bristol are under threat by a proposed development in Baltic Wharf.

A Full Planning Application has gone in from Goram Homes and developers Hill, to build 166 homes and commercial opportunities – such as a café – at the Caravan Club Site on Cumberland Road.

View of the Baltic Wharf Caravan Club with its many trees from the opposite side of the Harbour

The current tenants on the site, Baltic Wharf Caravan Club, have been served notice by Bristol City Council. The club has been operating from the site for several years on a short term lease, which has been extended until September 2021. They are currently taking bookings up to and including Sunday 19 September.

Goram Homes is a subsidiary of Bristol Holding Ltd, which is owned by Bristol City Council. The Local Authority also owns the land of the proposed development to which the planning application will go for approval.

Developers state that of the 166 planned homes, just 50 will be available for social rent – social housing. These have been been marked out as 30 one-bed properties, 16 two-bed properties and 4 three-bed properties. The majority of 99 homes will be sold privately on the open market and are not located in the same blocks as those marked out for social housing

There are four blocks of homes. Block A will feature 35 private homes. Block B, 34 private homes. Block C, 22 social housing homes. Block D, 16 shared ownership homes and 2 private homes. Block E, 28 social housing homes and Block F, 29 private homes.

There are only 78 car parking spaces to go with the development.

The developers believe that both the site and location is most suited to 1 and 2 bedroom homes because the build will be a ‘city centre high density development.’

They also claim that family homes are not ‘always suited’ to these blocks of flats saying there is only ‘limited demand’ for 3 bedroom properties in this location. They say ‘this is as demonstrated by the findings of the Homechoice register,’ although users of Bristol Homechoice claim otherwise.

Goram Homes and Hill promotional material submitted with the application acknowledges that ‘some’ of the trees will need to be removed to raise ground levels due to flood risk as well as enable ‘usable amenity spaces around the buildings.’ It describes the loss of trees as ‘unfortunate.’

But Bristol Tree Forum has hit back at the lack of transparency around the number of trees due for the chop.

In an objection, the organisation said: ‘The applicant’s proposal will result in a loss of the ecoservices, habitat and tree canopy provided by the 74 trees it plans to remove, rather different to the “some existing trees” described in the Goram Homes promotional material. Little if any justification is given for the removal of these trees; neither has sufficient mitigation been proposed to compensate for their removal if there is no other option but to remove them.’

Bristol Tree Forum believes that under the Bristol Tree Replacement Standard (BTRS) a total of 210 new trees would need to be planted to replace the ones removed. But, the application states that there are only plans to plant 31 replacement trees on site meaning 179 replacement trees would need to be planted elsewhere.

Former Councillor for Hotwells and Harbourside, Mark Wright also objected to the proposals. Mentioning the trees he stated: ‘There are a number of very nice trees on the caravan park site that residents are already calling for saving. If done skilfully and at an early enough stage, many of the best trees could be embraced into the development in a way that greatly increases the value of the retail flats. If done too late or not at all, it’s likely that getting planning permission will become a battle over trees, which isn’t what anyone really wants.’

He also took a swipe at the way issues surrounding the development and residents were dealt with, saying: ‘What I find so regrettable here is that the Council/Goram’s lack of transparency and public involvement has been if anything worse than we usually see from private developers. Despite 2 years of lobbying from groups on trees and height, before the pre-app plans were released, there was no engagement at all until the plans were dropped from out of nowhere last year…pretty much the same as they are now. In other words, public engagement has had precisely zero impact on these plans, as far as I can tell. It’s unfortunately a fairly damning indictment of the Council’s own housing developer.’

So far, 226 objections have been raised to the proposals.

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