Choice of developer for Harbourside site 'flawed'
BRISTOL City Council has denied claims that the process to appoint a developer to revamp a neglected part of the Harbourside was flawed.
The council is due to rubber-stamp a decision today to appoint a developer for a major scheme at the historic Redcliffe Wharf.
The Liberal Democrat-run cabinet is expected to agree to appoint a preferred developer for the site, which was used several years ago for a city beach, at a meeting this week.
London-based Complex Development Projects Ltd, which specialises in regeneration schemes, working alongside Government agencies, local authorities and charities, is being recommended for the scheme.
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The firm wants to use the site for a 30,000sq ft office building, together with 14 homes, two large restaurants and a mix of small cafes, shop and workshop-office buildings. The developer also wants to create public open spaces and reopen pedestrian links to the Quaker burial ground, which is hidden away on the corner of the busy St Mary Redcliffe roundabout.
But one group representing local traders and residents is claiming it was stopped from taking part in the process, leaving it fatally flawed.
The council has been working on a scheme to redevelop the area for more than seven years and one developer – London-based Westmark – was appointed, only to then pull out.
Keith Hallett from community group Redcliffe Futures has claimed that the organisation was excluded from the selection process.
He said: "The whole process was seriously flawed from the moment we were excluded from having a say.
"What we wanted was a scheme that represented the history and heritage of Bristol docks.
"The docks are what made this city great and people wanted to see a representation of that. Instead what we will get is a continuation of the kind of bland redevelopment that has already blighted most of the Harbourside.
"There are plenty of people with views about what should be happening at what, after all, is one of the most important sites in Bristol but they have just been ignored."
An independent report into the bidding process was carried out after concerns were raised. The findings, which mostly exonerated the council, were made public at a scrutiny committee last week.
A spokesman for the city council said: "Following concerns about the preferred developer bidding process for Redcliffe Wharf, the chief executive commissioned the council's independent auditors, Grant Thornton, to look at the matter.
"Their report essentially shows that the council has followed the appropriate process.
"However, they do make recommendations for how we can make improvements to ensure greater clarity and transparency, and we shall be acting on these."
The report found that there was no evidence that the council acted other than in good faith to secure a suitable developer for the site.
However, it added that "there are lessons to be learnt and improvements made in relation to both governance and communication of future processes".