Bristol University: Student accommodation plan criticised

Artist's impression showing the proposed student flats next to Bristol Temple Meads Image copyright University of Bristol
Image caption The proposed student flats next to Bristol Temple Meads

Three new tower blocks will create an unsightly welcome for visitors arriving in Bristol by train, it has been claimed.

They are part of the University of Bristol's plan for a new £300m campus next to Temple Meads station.

Campaign groups and residents' associations have criticised the design of the scheme.

But an architectural organisation in the city says the plans are well designed and not intrusive.

Outline planning permission has already been given for the 953 student flats on the land, once called Arena Island when it was earmarked for a new 12,000-capacity concert venue. Conference facilities, housing, offices and shops are now planned in its place.

Councillors will decide on 16 October whether to give the development, which includes a gym, roof garden, picnic area and riverside walkway, the go-ahead.

The plans are recommended for approval despite claims the flats will be a blight on Bristol's skyline.

Image copyright University of Bristol
Image caption The proposed student flats as viewed from Avon Street

Campaign group Historic England said: "This is a very prominent site, and its location adjacent to the London-bound platforms at Temple Meads will be the first impression of Bristol to visitors arriving in the city.

"There is a danger that the proposed buildings may appear as sheer unrelieved monoliths with little sense of refinement in their detail."

Two residents' associations - the Totterdown Residents Environmental and Social Action and the Windmill Hill and Malago Planning Group - also oppose the plans.

But the Bristol Urban Design Forum, which is made up of architects, planners and design experts, said: "The height of the development, when seen from surrounding areas, does not appear intrusive.

"We support the design approach."

A spokesperson for the University of Bristol said the development would "regenerate a long-neglected central area of the city by creating a welcoming campus in Temple Quarter".

They added: "The colour and materials used for the facade were chosen to reflect and complement the station and the industrial heritage of the site."

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