An existing conservation area in Bristol city centre could be extended to protect an additional place of special architectural and historic interest.
Bristol City Council is proposing to extend the boundary of the St James Parade Conservation Area to include the area surrounding the old BRI building and the former eye hospital.
Conservation areas have a special character and appearance which the council has a duty to preserve or enhance through the planning process. This means that stricter planning controls apply to conservation areas compared to other places.
The council’s recommendation to extend the St James Parade Conservation Area follows the national listing of the Georgian chapel within the old BRI site by Historic England in September 2017, and recognises the combined value of these buildings and the presence nearby of the church and Priory of St James, a 12th century Benedictine priory.
Cllr Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning and City Design at Bristol City Council, said:
“In Bristol we have around 4,000 listed buildings, more than most other big cities in the UK, and because of that it’s crucial we take this history with us and incorporate heritage into our plans. We are a growing city with a housing shortage, but we want progress in the right way, where the weight of historic character is recognised and reflected in high quality developments.
“I want to shift perceptions from some developers that heritage is a hindrance to development. It should be seen as an asset to any scheme and central to future regeneration in Bristol. We are already seeing great examples in the city which do strike the right balance, such as the work at the Old Vic and the Blackberry Hill development which has just started on site.
“Conservation areas play an important role in ensuring developers give consideration to cultural and historic sensitivity, which is why we are exploring this extension, particularly in light of the listing of the chapel.”
The council keeps conservation boundaries under review and it was the listing of the chapel in September 2017 which marked a significant change in circumstances and prompted the need to consider extending the St James Parade Conservation Area. The area is currently focussed on the church and Priory of St James. It was first designated as a conservation area in 1982.
A 28-day public consultation on the proposed boundary extension, including an appraisal of the old BRI site, has now started and will run until 9 August 2018. Comments can be submitted via the council’s website.