Bedminster Green – Alternatives

Bedminster Green in south Bristol is currently the object of intense and heated development bids rich in expensive housing and (mostly) student towers. Despite solid and thoughtful work by local residents the developers’ proposed planning framework for the area was agreed by Bristol City Council, against almost universal local opposition.

Since then two of the schemes have been refused at committee for reasons which included overshadowing, design, and lack of consideration for access maintenance and potential flooding from the Malago river running through the site. Two other schemes are still in the pipeline, however it is known that the proposals overall – if they go ahead in some form – will leave the actual “green” effectively smaller and hemmed in by tall and dense development with only a small number of truly affordable homes This is an attempt to look at alternatives.


I am aware that the term “high rise” means different things in different places. Chinese and US cities are full of 50-storey plus residential buildings, and I have stayed in a few. Nevertheless the experience of post-war housing in the UK shows that height from the ground does impact on quality of life if you believe – as I do – that creating sustainable communities is valuable. This is mainly to do with distance from the street and communal facilities.

Added to this is a reasonable respect for context. Yes Bedminster has some areas which would seeme suitable for higher buildings. However we are miles behind the US (for example) when it comes to ensuring design allows sunlight and daylight to adjoining buildings, and doesn’t create wind vortexes.

So for all the above reasons the smaller blocks – the maisonettes and the one by Little Paradise car park – are generally 4 storeys, with some 2 storey additions at roof level to the maisonettes (eg on Dalby Avenue), while the taller blocks fronting the green or away from existing residential areas are between 7 and 10 storeys (“Dalby 1” and “Dalby 2” have a recessed 10th storey, others are limited to 9 in the current scheme)

I’ve had a closer look at “plot 1” – appearing here as “Malago Gardens” and “Big Bird” – which you can find as a separate project.

It’s a work in progress, and I would welcome comments and alternative ideas which I could show on this page or on the Bedminster Green Campaign facebook page.


The building shown in the lower photos is The Green House, designed by Architype, following the Walter Segal timber frame principles. Built in 1997 the wildflower meadow roof has gone over 20 years trouble-free without maintenance, and the gardens have become rich in native plants and an additional haven for wildlife. The development proposals seek to dismantle this building and erect it in Victoria Park nearby. There doesn’t seem to have been any consultation about this, and the park is not that large.

The Green House is currently the headquarters of Social Farms & Gardens. In the proposals set out as Option A we retain the building and its immediate gardens, sitting within an expanded Green. If SFG want to move premises for any reason it could be used as a community building, for teaching, meetings, and social functions.

2 thoughts on “Bedminster Green – Alternatives

  1. Hi Wolfgang,
    Really good to see your detailed ideas – reflects many of the principle in WHaM’s original vision document, but….
    Q1. All the A38 traffic into Bristol has to now go via Dalby Ave, East St, and Bedminster Parade. Perhaps just less of it…???
    The real obstacle to proper planning of this site has always seemed to me that it is cut in half by a major trunk road into the city. If the A38 stayed next to the railway, anything is possible… but it’s probably just not poss to reroute.
    Q2. Devil’s advocate – BCC will argue for max number of “units” – and numbers do matter, just not numbers alone. You provide what I see as good numbers, but also green open space and a balanced community, esp in option1 – real liveability. BUT how do your numbers – people, not “units” – compare to the Framework of the developers?
    Keep up the good work,
    Gareth Jones. (Local resident)

    1. Thanks Gareth. Good point about the A38 – it does look as though the original idea when the streets here were realigned was to zone industry to the south of Malago Road, ie use it as a barrier. The only real hope as you suggest is have less traffic generally (bit more train noise perhaps)

      Re the number of “units” my homes are a mix of sizes but a good proportion of 2 bed flats and maisonettes, with a smaller proportion of 3 and 4 bed similar, but also a few street houses. Without taking it up a level of detail that suggests about 1500 people could live here (not much more than 10% of Bristol’s housing waiting list..) The developers actual schemes aren’t easily comparable because they have so many student rooms in them. I need to look at their “framework” again too. But the flats tend to be smaller and either private sale or “PRS” ie high rent to wealthier people.

      Thanks again for taking an interest, and commenting.

      Best wishes


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