Flats blocking famous Totterdown view approved by Bristol City Council

The apartment blocks have been approved Credit: POD Architects

Plans have been approved for hundreds of flats blocking the famous view of Totterdown's coloured houses.

Donard developers now have permission to build 221 apartments between York Street and Mead Street, on the former site of Bart Spices warehouses, spread over three blocks.

But there are fire safety concerns as one block only has a single escape route - prompting calls for major design changes.

The other two blocks would reach 11 storeys in height, obstructing the view of the colourful houses on top of the Totterdown escarpment.

Another issue is many flats would only have windows on one side, with limited natural light.

Local residents and council planning officers urged Bristol City Council to refuse permission, but councillors said the need for housing outweighed the issues with the designs.

Bristol is famous for its coloured houses Credit: PA Images

Gael Alen, a local resident, said: “The view of the Totterdown escarpment is an important part of the topography of Bristol.

"The coloured houses of Totterdown are often used to promote Bristol. If you build high-rise buildings in front of this view, it would take away the charm and soul of the area.

"Please help save the view and refuse this planning application.”

The Health and Safety Executive said changes were needed to the designs of the building, due to fire safety concerns and a lack of safe emergency escape routes.

Block C would only have one escape staircase, which goes against fire safety standards.

But the new apartments could have their designs changed without a new planning application being made to address these fire safety issues.

The apartments would also need signing off by building control to check their safety, before any future residents were allowed to move in.

Defending the buildings’ design, Jonathan Bethel, from POD Architects, said: “We have designed the scheme from the outset to ensure there are still views to the escarpment.

"However the simple fact is you can’t build much in this particular location without impacting on those views.”

Councillors said that the scheme had many benefits, including building new housing on a derelict industrial site, with good walking, cycling and public transport links.

30% of the flats would also be classed as affordable housing, with the rest priced as “discount to market rent”.

Cllr John Geater said: “My concern is if we refuse this, what will happen is we’ll get a reduced height in a planning application that comes back, so that it gets around all the design rules and the places will be bigger.

"But there’ll be 10% affordable housing because they’ll knock off all the affordable housing in order to make it compliant and a lovely design.”

Not all councillors were in favour of granting planning permission. Cllr Ed Plowden said: “I really worry about the quality of accommodation for people who will be living here. This has been rushed through and there are loose ends about whether it’s safe to live in.”

The York Street apartments form one part of the wider Mead Street redevelopment, which will eventually see about 1,500 new houses built in the area stretching along York Road from Bath Road to St Luke’s Road.

Credit: Local Democracy Reporter Service/ Alex Seabrook