£50m office block planned for city centre
PLANS to build a £50-million office block in the centre of Bristol have been approved by officials at the city council.
If the scheme, to build the eight-storey building in Victoria Street, goes ahead it will be the biggest of the kind seen in the city in several years.
The commercial property market has ground to an almost complete standstill following the recession and there has been no new speculative developments since 2008.
Planning permission has been granted for the 258,000 square feet development following a city council planning meeting last week.
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The £50 million speculative building is named Aspire and if it goes ahead there will be enough room in the building for 2,000 office workers.
The site, next door to the KPMG south west headquarters, is occupied by an office block which will be demolished to make way for the new building.
Planners have given the go-ahead for the application even though there were objections from several organisations. Both Redcliffe Futures and Bristol Civic Society were opposed to the scheme. The Civic Society claimed the loss of the existing building would be a blow because "it is a positive contributor to the street scene".
A spokesman for the organisation added: "We are also particularly concerned that the proposal to replace it would considerably exceed the height of its neighbours and can see no justification for this. The proposed building would, in our view, contribute little to the overall appearance of the area."
A spokesman for Redcliffe Futures added: "Proposals were worked up for a considerable time before we were invited to comment.
"There was clearly no intention that plans might be altered as a result of community involvement. This flouting of established consultation practice should be condemned."
The spokesperson added: "Whilst the existing buildings provide a pleasant facade on this varied street, we accept that the life of the structures can no longer deliver reasonable standards of sustainable operation and should be replaced.
"However, the replacement must offer a facade of equivalent or better architectural quality."
The new glass-fronted building has been designed by Aukett Fitzroy Robinson architects in partnership with Buro Happold. The development will result in the layout of the road and street along Temple Street and Victoria Street redesigned.
Luke Schuberth, managing director at Aukett Fitzroy Robinson, said: "This scheme is an important landmark for Bristol and will make a significant contribution to the region's commercial offering. The unique flexibility of this design makes it truly stand out from its peer developments, I am not aware of another building like it in the UK."
Both English Heritage and the Environment Agency said they were not opposed to the scheme in principle.
The council approved the application on the basis that the developer pays a sum towards transport schemes under a so-called Section 106 agreement.