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Planning consents: Schemes aim to expand and improve

Will Jennings

Bigger and better is the theme in this week’s planning approvals, with urban and station improvements, expanded British Library facilities and more homes and commercial space

  • Credit: FCBS
  • Credit: FCBS
  • Credit: FCBS
  • Credit: FCBS
  • Credit: FCBS

St Mary le Port, Bristol

Total site area: 1.15 ha
Client: Development manager MEPC (Development Manager) and Federated Hermes (site owner)
Architect: Fielden Clegg Bradley
Landscape architect: Grant Associates
Planning authority: Bristol City Council
Planning ref: 21/03020/F

A prominent site acting as gateway between Temple Meads station and Bristol city centre is to be radically altered with this Fielden Clegg Bradley scheme which will see the demolition and replacement of three office blocks and repairs to the historic St Mary le Port Church tower and ruins. The site takes up the northeast corner of Castle Park – which contains not only the ruined church subject to this development but also the shell of St Peters Church, where artist Theaster Gates worked alongside AN-Architecture on his 2015 Inner Sanctum project.

Bombs destroyed almost the entire parish on 24 November 1940, leaving both churches ruined, but with this planning consent St Mary le Port will now sit at the heart of a new public space opening onto the park and alongside the three new blocks, each drawing its language and colour scheme from the wealth of architectural variety in the immediate vicinity.

Each block has substantial ground floor commercial provision of varied size units, with intent to create a new pedestrian-friendly quarter supported by independent retail. Above, the blocks offer over 30,000m² open plan office space. The ruined walls of the church will provide an intimate public space, now opened up so it can directly address St Peters, while its vaults will be repaired and fully integrated within the basements of the new blocks, some used for commercial purposes such as exhibitions or an atmospheric food and beverage offer.

  • Credit: JTP
  • Credit: JTP
  • Credit: JTP
  • Credit: JTP

Goldsworth Road, Woking

Total site area: 1.15 ha
Client: EcoWorld London
Architect: JTP
Landscape architect: Gillespies
Planning authority: Woking Borough Council
Planning ref: PLAN/2020/0568
Appeal ref: APP/A3655/W/21/3276474

Although refused planning permission in January 2021, a year later this scheme for 929 residential units alongside commercial units and a homeless shelter, all spread over five blocks between nine and 37 stories in height, has been approved by the Planning Inspectorate. Upholding the appeal by developer Ecoworld London, inspector John Braithwaite decided that counter to the council’s initial reasons for rejection, the scheme would not harm the character and appearance of the immediate area, or cause unacceptable reduction in daylight levels or reduction in privacy of nearby properties and residents. In his argument, Braithwaite stated that the near-1000 ‘much needed’ units on ‘an unconstrained and sustainable located site’ nonetheless offered considerable benefits to the town.

Woking is undergoing a number of high-density, tall developments. This scheme acknowledges that its future residents will primarily be young and skilled but unable to afford to live in central London and desirous of a short commute and enhanced quality of life. The JTP scheme seeks to make a community with landscaped streets, greened facades at lower levels, and a series of podium gardens set between the towers for resident access.

  • Credit: IDOM
  • Credit: IDOM
  • Credit: IDOM
  • Credit: IDOM

Oxford Station

Total building footprint: 985m²
Client: Network Rail Infrastructure Limited
Architect: IDOM with Network Rail
Planning authority: Oxford City Council
Planning ref: 21/02007/PA18

Oxford Station is near capacity, and with planned service increases starting from 2024, the existing station building is not sufficient to handle the increased footfall and number of train services. This new building is designed to provide a secondary entrance, a new platform and full-length canopy as well as associated services including waiting room, toilets, café and staffing facilities. It is also expected that the new entrance and building will act as instigator for broader redevelopment of the station site within an existing masterplan.

Visitors to Oxford might feel underwhelmed when stepping from the train. The existing buildings date from the 1970s-90s and do not provide the most architecturally stimulating entrance to the historic city. They will, however, remain in use after this western entrance is constructed, with future elements of the masterplan building on IDOM’s scheme to provide a new gateway to the city.

Architecturally, the new building and improved public realm will sit lower than the existing station, with a ground-level subway passing under the new terminus platform. A retaining wall of precast concrete panels will have a 3D articulation inspired by the city’s Gothic arches, with the new entrance building in front formed of a white concrete frame to set it apart from the wall behind. Stone pavement used for the public space externally will continue into the subway. The station roof, which will be visible to passengers arriving at the new platform, will be planted with sedum.

  • Credit: Carmody Groarke
  • Credit: Carmody Groarke
  • Credit: Carmody Groarke
  • Credit: Carmody Groarke
  • Credit: Carmody Groarke
  • Credit: Carmody Groarke

Boston Spa British Library

Total area: 17.8 ha
Client: The British Library
Architect: Carmody Groarke
Landscape architect: J&L Gibbons
Planning authority: Leeds City Council
Planning ref: 21/03766/FU

With a significant increase in government investment from last year’s budget, the British Library Boston Spa storage facilities are set to be increased by 220km of extra shelf space. Carmody Groarke is behind the new Automated Storage Building [ASB] which will include a new logistics hub, education space and viewing gallery to observe the towering robotic stacks.

The main ASB building is a super-airtight steel-frame shed, 93m tall internally, containing the collection within a low-oxygen environment to meet international archival standards. Alongside, the 1600m² logistics building – formed from CLT walls and roof supported by glulam beams and columns – has a sawtooth roof above a flexible workspace. Nearby, a new energy centre beneath a low-slung pitched metal roof is also set to be constructed from timber frame.

Alongside the new buildings, the existing ziggurat-like Urquhart Building, built in three phases across the 1970s by Brian Maud, will be overhauled. It will continue to be used for archival storage and staff facilities, but have additions including a public café, new reading rooms, new collection processing spaces and an entrance pavilion. Photovoltaics will spread across the entire roof, providing renewable energy to the whole site, while a ground source heat pump will provide local renewable heating and cooling.

The landscape is also set to be greatly improved and has a progressive ecological approach at its heart. Substrate for gravel paving and SuDS will be formed from rubble of to-be-demolished wartime structures, while facade panels removed from the Urquhart Building will be used for new paving within a scheme that seeks to use existing hardstanding where possible, de-paving and infilling the remainder of the site with a biodiverse mix of planting and 1000 new trees.


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