‘Insensitive’ plans for site rejected

RESIDENTS face a wait to find out the future of the former St Christopher’s School site closde to the Downs.

Two years after proposals for a luxury retirement village were unveiled, councillors voted in August to reject the plans, which were  criticised as overdevelopment.

The developers, Fore Partnership, have six months to decide whether to appeal against the committee decision. Alternatively, they could put forward a revised version of the 116-home extra care development, consider a different use for the five-acre site in Westbury Park, or try to sell it to another developer.

Speaking to the Architects’ Journal, Fore Partnership managing partner Basil Demeroutis said: “We’ve worked hard on this scheme for two years and still believe in its core strengths, which were acknowledged by a number of the committee members.

“We are deeply disappointed that the full benefits of this much-needed development — which tackles the climate crisis head on, supports Bristol’s net zero targets and provides urgently needed housing for the city — were not fully recognised. While we do not believe that the refusal accurately reflects the true potential and merits of our proposal, we respect the process and will now take time as a team to consider our next steps.”

Jeff Bishop, from Westbury Park Community Association, which opposed the scale of the proposed development, told the Voice: “Let’s hope the developers have the common sense not to appeal, otherwise we’ll all be living with the uncertainty for at least another year.” 

St Christopher’s Action Network (SCAN), in a statement after the committee meeting, said: “We are delighted with the sensible decision to reject the insensitive plans for St Christopher’s. 

“The developers behind these plans were always interested in profit … not people. They never showed any real interest in discovering what the community thought, and they cared even less about the rudiments of good design and the importance of developing a landscape-led, sustainable solution for this wonderful site. Their oversized, overcrowded, and overbearing plans show this clearly. We know much better is possible!”

Until it closed in 2020, St Christopher’s was an independent school for children with special needs and disabilities (SEND) and SCAN wants to see the site used again for SEND provision, which is much needed in Bristol.