Tag Archives: Affordable housing

HENGROVE PARK LATEST

Labour housing czar, Paul “Wolfie” Smith’s efforts to “build communities not just houses” on Hengrove Park continue to go badly awry as his planning team persist in their attempt to dump 1,400 homes in a field in south Bristol and call it “planning”.

Some progress was made when Wolfie’s planners caught up with the rest of the sentient universe and agreed that a public road access to their development was REQUIRED from Hengrove Way, the only major arterial route to the site.

However, planners then decided that this route must STOP one third of the way into the development to prevent “rat-running” between Hengrove Way and Whitchurch Lane. However, this will also PREVENT vehicle access to two thirds of the proposed homes from the road with the best capacity to handle the traffic. Planners, when asked where they think they are preventing rat-runners going, deliver the BLANK LOOK of someone who’s spent about as much time in south Bristol as the average Japanese Puffer Fish.

Concern for rat running then DISPELS less than a mile away where an existing residential road and ‘rat-run’, Bamfield, will provide vehicle access for two thirds of the development. Is the plan to prioritise the quality of life in the NEW DEVELOPMENT by reducing traffic there at the expense of an EXISTING residential area already handling supermarket traffic for Asda, school run traffic for Perry Court Primary School and existing “rat-runners” going home to Hengrove and Whitchurch?

How Bamfield, a residential road, is supposed to cope with even more traffic is NOT EXPLAINED. While enquiries regarding how many vehicle movements the new development might generate go UNANSWERED by planners who are, apparently, near the end of their “masterplanning” with NO CLUE how much traffic their development might generate.

Throughout this process, planners have remained DEAF to concerns regarding traffic issues in the area. Instead, the council’s mantra is that the new housing is a major benefit that residents have been calling for. A view CONTRADICTED by the council’s own Quality of Life Survey, where concern over traffic and transport dwarfs housing issues by about four to one.

So far, planners’ only real response to impending TRAFFIC HELL, reduced air quality and increased pollution is to enthusiastically draw little blue lines all over their plans indicating where their cycle lanes will go. This is for an area where their own data shows ZERO PER CENT of people cycle to work and any new roads will be cycle-friendly 20mph anyway.

Another “benefit” planners are keen to highlight is the £10MILLION proposed spend on park facilities and landscaping for the open space they haven’t concreted over. Although the reality is that residents are losing huge amounts of open space to housing and roads while any benefit from more park facilities is QUESTIONABLE while the council is proposing to close the existing Hengrove Play Park on Mondays and Tuesdays.

It also appears that there will actually be £10million worth of landscaped PSEUDO PUBLIC SPACE as the land will be turned over to a dodgy Carillion-style private management firm, procured by a skint council, to run. The level of maintenance and upkeep of this space is therefore likely to be LOW with ZERO community or democratic oversight once the council signs our land away to the private sector to manage.

The latest highlight of this public-private pseudo public space LANDSCAPING BONANZA is an optimistically named “village green”, planned to be built over the popular Family Cycling Centre. However, any traditional sound of leather on willow may be a little subdued by the main road into the development running DIRECTLY THROUGH this village green.

It’s obvious that this development is being pursued at a RAMPANT PACE by Wolfie in order to chase numbers for a manifesto pledge on housing numbers. While it might – if we’re lucky – support the housing needs of the rest of the city, it provides little that’s much use to locals who’ll have to live with the predictably DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES of it all.

Wolfie needs to get back to the drawing board or accept responsibility as the architect of a new Hartcliffe (another public housing development full of bold promises where there was never any money for the services and facilities to fulfil them).

DEVELOPMENT NEWS

Another month and more greedy bastard builders are taking the piss out of our city by refusing to provide social and affordable homes on land owned by us and handed over to PRIVATE DEVELOPERS for housing by Bristol City Council who then grant them planning permission.

First, over to Speedwell where Crossman Homes, a chiselling shower of shit from Bath, are will be DEMOLISHING our amazing art deco swimming pool building and replace it with a HIDEOUS cell block of flats.

Out of the 31 flats being built on our land, Crossman Homes are providing only FOUR “affordable” – whatever that means – homes. Just 14 per cent of the total. Way below the council’s target of 40 per cent or around 12 of these homes.

Not surprisingly the Speedwell community is up in arms about this. Not only are they losing a popular and locally listed community building, they won’t even get any housing anyone in their community will be able to AFFORD. Another win for Bristol City Council?

Locally listed baths: will be demolished for flats

Meanwhile, over at REDCLIFF WHARF, council-owned and the last undeveloped site on the docks, another affordable homes FIASCO unfolds on this prime development land.

A special purpose vehicle – Complex Development Projects Ltd – quickly set up last December by businessmen from HERTFORDSHIRE in search of a fast, unaccountable buck are applying for planning permission to build a wanky mixed use development there. There’s lots of waffle (and cost) with this one about the need for a “HIGH QUALITY PUBLIC REALM” to appease Redcliff’s posh folk who want a poncy development that befits their status.

This means that, while over a MILLION QUID is poured into “public realm” improvements, granite suppliers and the provision of one tree, there’s sod all money left for affordable housing. In fact the dodgy developers are proposing NONE whatsoever!

Our brave council planners have rejected this LUDICROUS PROPOSAL out of hand, however, and told the developers that they must provide THREE one bed flats as affordable housing. Or about ONE FIFTH of the affordable housing requirement for the site.
Sod that. The council must take our land back from these dodgy developers and snooty wankers  immediately and use the site for 100 PER CENT SOCIAL HOUSING.

And, if the posh fuckers of Redcliff don’t like more council housing on their doorstep they can always fuck off to the Cotswolds.

PLANNING NEWS

A retrospective planning application for 14 homes on Bridgwater Road, Bedminster Down may have hit the jackpot for STUPID DEVELOPMENT in the city. Originally granted permission in 2014, with no affordable housing, developers UKS Group Ltd, a heating firm, have set about about breaking the original planning conditions with considerable panache.

Chief among these is their RANDOM CHANGES in the design of the development; a FAILURE to properly decontaminate the land creating a potential health hazard and an INCREASE in parking spaces above legal levels.

Meanwhile a closer look by planning officers at the viability assessment for the development than they managed the first time around suggests it’s riddled with MISLEADING errors, which mean the company could still turn a generous profit and provide affordable housing.

Errors discovered in the viability assessment included: the use of LOWER property values than those provided by independent valuars with no explanation; a CLAIM the scheme contained 1,649 square metres of floor space when it was actually 1,761 square metres, meaning that the build costs were overly inflated, and a CLAIM of costs of £110,000 for parking spaces when the tender document put the costs at £21,700.38.

A council planning committee has now REJECTED the retrospective application citing the lack of affordable housing. Will the developer appeal?

Watch this space.

NO AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLEASE, WE’RE CHRISTIANS

Another day, another development before a planning committee of councillors in Bristol with absolutely NO affordable housing.

We’ve learned our dear old friends, the PG Group, the local multi-million property empire of dubious priest, Friar Gregory “Satan” Grant, have acquired a listed building, the EMPIRE SPORTS CLUB and its unlisted car park on Newfoundland Road, St Pauls. And, in a neat sleight of hand, they’ve put in two planning applications.

One for TEN HOUSES on the car park and another for 22 APARTMENTS in the listed building. All very convenient because the development on the car park falls below the minimum requirement for affordable housing while the listed Empire Sports building apparently qualifies for Vacant Building Credit (VBC) and is exempt from any affordable housing requirement.

So that’s a requirement for thirteen affordable units reduced to ZERO by the millionaire man of God. The only question now is whether councillors will let Friar Satan get away with this bullshit.

Watch this space.

HANDOUTS FOR THE RICH UPDATE

Posh fella needs public handout

Launched in a blaze of gushing publicity in the autumn of 2015, snooty TV celeb, Kevin McCloud’s HAB building company’s development on the site of Dunmail Primary School in Southmead was touted as the sustainable HOUSING OF THE FUTURE.

A major PR effort back in 2015 with public schoolboy Mayor No-more Ferguson front, back and centre alongside the Cambridge educated TV presenter waffled a lot about “partnership” and “sustainability”. So it was only a matter of time before the scheme would need a PUBLIC HANDOUT wasn’t it?

Fast forward to May 2017, eight months after master builder McCloud should have began work, and we find the shyster TV presenter has failed to “roll up his sleeves” and get a shovel in the ground in Southmead as promised. Instead, he’s working hard alongside accountants in his office and is now DEMANDING we – the council tax payer – UNDERWRITE his fancypants state-of-the-art development!

Just weeks before Kevin was finally threatening to get those shovels out, he discovered that the private rental element of the state-of-the-art mixed scheme of social housing, affordable housing, private rental and private purchase housing he promised was too much of a RISK!

So we, the council tax payer, will now act as guarantor for the scheme after the Rev Rees’s cabinet agreed to a last minute BAILOUT of £500k to get this private sector scheme off the ground.

Welcome to the future of housing development in Bristol where the private sector and well-heeled TV celebs pocket the profit and get the PR gush and the public takes all the risks …

WHAT SHOULD THE BRISTOL HOMES BOARD BE LIKE THEN?

The first thing to do with leeches is to CUT THEM OFF from their blood supply. However, the leeches are everywhere, even in the brain of the host, in this case the Bristol Homes Board (BHB). So here’s some steps to make sure we get decent social housing without getting ripped off.

1. Stop talking about affordable housing. FUCK IT OFF. It’s vague nonsense manipulated by private companies. To solve the housing crisis, WE WANT SOCIAL HOUSING at rents set by the council, not housing associations, not charities, not ‘property guardian companies’, not housing activists or Green Councillor Landlords in ACORN. Our money comes back to us, not into the pockets of private companies, NGOs or so-called charities.

2. No representatives or consultants from building companies, property speculators, letting agencies or landlords anywhere near the BHB. They are NOT FIT to sit at our public table or even communicate with us. Their interests are different to ours. When (and if) we want them, we’ll ask them to tender on OUR TERMS, begging at our table for contracts like the hungry dogs they are.

3. All tendering processes rigorously monitored by NON-PARTISAN legal and construction experts who are vetted with full disclosure of any business/financial interests. If they have conflicts of interest, consultancies, dodgy connections, blah blah, kick ‘em out. The role of these ‘chosen ones’, pure as the driven snow, is to protect the people from corruption and robbery. Give ‘em a big stick.

4. All proposed public projects and bids costed by these experts. As part of the tendering process conditions and rates of exploitation of workers in participating companies MUST be declared, along with PROFIT MARGINS.

5. Anyone or company discovered doing anything DODGY before, during or after the tendering process is immediately BANNED from any future tenders and legal action must follow. Thieves who take public money, whether corporate or individuals, must be PUNISHED SEVERELY to teach all the leeches to behave.

6. Housing quality, safety and longevity is central to social housing projects. Find building experts you TRUST; give experienced leftist brickies, roofers, electricians etc. the job of monitoring quality and all on-site activities. Employ POLITICALLY MOTIVATED surveyors, engineers and architects with no private consultancies who’ll take a job to serve the public for life. FUCK OFF ANYONE ELSE. Set up training schemes so the numbers of trustworthy people increases. Create a culture of serving the public rather than leeching.

7. Make the BHB, transparent and democratically accountable (sorry Marvin). LISTEN to people who already experience social housing, tenants associations etc. FIND OUT the problems. BE CLEAR about what you will deliver from your discussions with them. Invite them to observe meetings of the BHB. INVOLVE trade unions and fuck off any company that tries to impede union organisation.

The BHB should be building QUALITY SOCIAL HOUSING for the city. Then the cardboard shit that companies build for private sale becomes a joke and hopefully a thing of the past compared to the brilliant new social housing. The BHB should consist of non-compromised experts we can trust, our political representatives, bodies representing existing social housing tenants and trade unions.

And if the leeches start squealing because it’s getting too hot for them … it’s better they burn and not us.

The Committee for Public Safety

Charlie (Bolton) and the Chocolate Factory: THAT GREEN PARTY AFFORDABLE HOUSING POLICY IN FULL

that-green-affordable-housing-policy-in-full“So for a planning application to come forward – and it is not the first – with zero affordable housing is quite unacceptable. It goes against everything we believe in. It is quite simply an attack on the poorest in the city.”

Bristol Post 30 November 2016, Bristol Green Party Leader, CHARLIE BOLTON slamming news that the Chocolate Factory development at Greenbank by the Generator Group will have ZERO affordable housing

“Bristol South’s Dawn Primarolo, ward member CHARLIE BOLTON, Green party Parliamentary candidate Tony Dyer and the chair of BS3 Planning Group have all stated support.”

Bristol Post, 27 August 2014 reporting on the proposed 16-storey St Catherine’s Place development by Urbis in Bedminster with ZERO affordable housing.

STOP PRESS: The Green Party are putting forward a motion at tomorrow’s full council meeting demanding that developers deliver more affordable housing in the city! Apparently “we need strong leadership from our city leaders to call for change” (except from the Greens in the case of Urbis?)

THE TOWERING CONTRADICTION: the Labour Party and affordable housing

Redcliffe's cash cow carbuncle: not for the poor!

Redcliffe’s cash cow carbuncle: not for the poor!

A CONVENIENT LEAK from the Rev Rees’s planning department of the viability assessment for the small Chocolate Factory development of 135 flats at Greenbank just days before a planning committee meeting yesterday was enough to get the plans temporarily KNOCKED BACK by grandstanding councillors.

The leaked confidential document, the direct responsibility of council planning bosses, revealed that the developers, The Generator Group, might be able to afford more than the FIVE per cent or SIX units of affordable housing that they finally offered at the site.

This was AGGRESSIVELY seized upon by Labour councillors at the planning committee meeting, who followed the Rev’s lead in the morning’s media and loudly demanded – in front of the gathered press – that the developers meet the Rev Rees’s target of 40 per cent affordable housing, which would be around 50 flats.

This fighting talk over affordable housing at Greenbank contrasted with a relative silence by Labour politicians over affordable housing at one of the Rev Rees’s pet projects, a horrendous 82 metre high concrete cash cow TOWER BLOCK for Redcliffe discussed at the same meeting.

Despite the lack of affordable homes – only 12 per cent or around 32 units against a requirement of 40 per cent or 110 units – the application for this development was WAVED THROUGH. One Labour councillor on the planning committee even said, “while there aren’t enough affordable homes, at least the developers tried”.

So that’s OK then. Although surely FURTHER PRESSURE applied on the developer, Redcliff MCC LLP – a limited liability partnership front for a complex web of companies centring around Christopher Mitchell Solicitors Ltd in Westbury-on-Trym – might have yielded considerably more units of affordable housing than are available at Greenbank? Especially as a tower block on a prime city centre location should be highly ‘viable’?

Of course any claim that the Chocolate Factory planning episode was a CAREFULLY STAGED public relations exercise is ridiculous. Presenting the Rev Rees and his Labour councillors as champions of the people fighting for affordable housing while a favoured and extremely lucrative city centre development fails to get anywhere near those same affordable housing targets without any criticism from Labour’s affordable housing champions is NO CONTRADICTION whatsoever.

Although we do have to wonder why, according to our sources in the planning department, not even a cursory effort is being made to discover how a CONFIDENTIAL planning document got so helpfully leaked ahead of a meeting.

Perhaps such an investigation might prove embarrassing to the Rev Rees and his Labour Party?

FLY ON THE WALL: MARVIN AND HOUSING

fly_on_the_wall_by_kenjis9965-d2z3ogsThis Saturday (April 30), THE FLY was buzzing around College Green in the aftermath of the ‘Homes For All’ march to College Green by homeless support groups.

With only a week to go, many candidates for Bristol Mayor were there and even the Tory had come along to “show his support”, but THE FLY’S compound eyes focused in on an interview being given by Marvin ‘Luther’ Rees to a team of documentary film makers.

THE FLY hovered in and waited for any particularly tasty morsels of Bullshit that might be in the offing. It turned out that the interviewer was asking Marvin what he intended to do for Bristol’s homeless upon taking office.

Marv gave the usual CLAPTRAP about “deals over affordable housing” but whenever the interviewer asked for specifics he became twitchy and stated: “Look if we were in a boxing match, then I’d hardly tell you I was about to land you a right hook, now would I?” (ignoring the fact that neither were in a boxing match. Ed.)

Then the interviewer mentioned the huge and disproportionate salaries that council executives were being paid and whether THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE intended to cut them as mayor.

Marv was seen to visibly recoil in horror. “No no,” he protested, “Be reasonable, I can’t do that! The next day I’d have to face a fleet of lawyers and their unions* would go on strike!”(Presumably the UFCPP Union of Fat Cats on the Public Payroll? Ed.)

When the interviewer remonstrated that other candidates were considering this very move, Marv guffawed and spat out, “Well they aren’t going to be elected, are they? To be elected mayor, you have to be seen to act responsibly…”

At this point THE FLY decided to depart and land on one of the (by now many) smoking, wet turds roundabout. Lapping up the heavenly moisture with its proboscis.

SELL-OFF!

SELL OFF webThe only people who don’t seem to have noticed there’s a MAJOR HOUSING CRISIS in Bristol are the bosses at the council’s wretched Housing Department and our city councillors.

44 RICHMOND TERRACE in Avonmouth has been a council house for years. Or at least it was until about six months ago when the family occupying this tidy little terraced home were MOVED OUT by the council and builders sent in to renovate it.

The work on the house – at council taxpayers expense – is now complete and so a family in need of council house can move back in, right?

Wrong! The council has now put the property ON THE MARKET for sale by auction because they’ve decided – in the middle of a council housing shortage – it’s SURPLUS TO REQUIREMENTS!

44 Richmond Terrace is just one of 15 COUNCIL HOMES we know about that’s recently been renovated at OUR EXPENSE and which will be sold on to property developers or someone wealthy at an auction later this month.

Because it’s unlikely anyone other than property developers or investors will get a look-in as properties sold at auction require FULL PAYMENT within a month, a process that massively favours cash buyers.

This all raises two questions. First, why are the council selling homes they could use to house local families in DESPERATE NEED? Second, if they intend to sell the houses, why have they FORKED OUT OUR MONEY to renovate them first? Couldn’t they just flog them as is?

Why the hell are large numbers of Bristol City Council properties that could have housed the poor and the vulnerable being sold off to the wealthy? Who agreed to this?

 

HOW HOYTY GOT A HOME

Cuddly GusYou may recall the council ran a similar house selling scam at COBOURG ROAD in Montpelier in 2013 when the local Green Councillor, SIR GUS HOYTY TOYTY, bagged himself a cheap council home, conveniently situated next door to where he was already living!

On that occasion the Housing Department contacted the local councillor, Sir Gus, to inform him of the sale, which he could have OPPOSED. However, he allegedly FAILED TO READ the email telling him about the sell-off and went on to claim he had been unaware the house was a former council property until he had put in a successful bid for it!

Do the local councillors know about this latest round of council house sell-offs and have they done nothing? And who’ll be the lucky recipients of the cheap housing this time around?