Builders say City landmarks must not be left to rack and ruin
21 July 2017 by Emma Forster
The sale of surplus hospitals and police stations across the West is providing much needed building sites – reducing the need for further incursion into the region’s Green Belt.
And while compact urban sites cannot contribute enough new homes by themselves, every effort must be made to maximise the use of surplus or derelict inner city sites.
That’s the view of Bristol builders Helm Construction, who have welcomed recently announced plans to redevelop the old Blackberry Hill Hospital as well former police stations at Bishopsworth, Ilminster and Weston-super-Mare for either residential or commercial use.
Contracts Director Jon Ticehurst said: “Many people may regret the loss of these landmark buildings, but we believe we should strive to keep them in use rather than left vacant for years.
“Local authorities can no longer allow surplus sites to become abandoned, abandoned sites to become derelict and derelict sites to become public eyesores.
“Working on around a dozen sites across the city, the people we speak to would rather have a good quality development rather than see sites go to rack and ruin.
“Regeneration schemes such as the ones about to be launched on our redundant hospital sites and closed-down police stations may not be the whole answer, but they will be delivering affordable homes in good urban locations when we need them - right now.”
Jon Ticehurst said a recent Council for the Protection of Rural England report into the Government’s housing plans had highlighting the majority of homes built in rural areas would be out of reach of first time buyers.
“As well as being considerably more expensive than the majority of urban locations, putting people out in the countryside requires significant improvements to infrastructure to enable them to commute into the city.
“One thing needs to happen - we need to speed up our planning system processes and procedures with an aim to encourage construction to meet growing demand.”
He went on: “Helm Construction has regenerated derelict factory premises, abandoned commercial buildings and surplus retail premises to bring forward hundreds of homes and apartments where they are needed – within walking distance of the City Centre.
“Whether it’s a police station an old pub or even a once treasured community asset such as Blackberry Hill Hospital, we need new homes coming forward now in order to keep the housing market ticking over.
“We believe viable Brownfield sites have been and are crucial to increase the housing supply and reduce the demand on our green spaces, which will become increasingly vulnerable if we cannot make some kind of impact on the housing waiting lists.”