Saturday Feb. 27, 1010.

The Westmoreland House Public Inquiry started at 10am on Thursday 25th Feb.
After two days of sitting, it will recommence on Tuesday at 9.30am, when the views of the local Community will be heard.


What it is about:
Opecprime Development Ltd. are a company which is one of a raft of companies which include Comer Homes, that are owned by self-made multi-millionaire property developers, Brian and Luke Comer. They are probably best known for the attempted take over of Aston Villa Football Club in 2005. They appear to specialise in high-rise luxury flats, and have owned the Carriageworks/Westmoreland House site since 1988, a period of 22 years. Opecprime Development have been attempting  to gain planning permission to build an intensive development of over 150 primarily 1-bedroom luxury apartments on the site, which would be a gated community right  in the heart of Stokes Croft. The development would, if successful, involve the demolition of  Grade II listed no. 4 Ashley road, and extensive re-working of Godwin’s Grade II* Carriageworks, so that the carriage works would no longer exist in any meaningful form as a historic building, other than as a facade.

Despite being in the middle of what is a  Conservation Area, Opecprime  propose  to replace the tower of Westmoreland House with another tower of similar bulk.

Bristol City Council have refused Opecprime Development planning permission for their proposed development and so, Opecprime appealed against the decision. so, the case goes to Public Inquiry.

Public Inquiry: What it means

Bristol City Council and Opecprime have been unable to agree a way forward. So, a Planning Inspector, in this case, Mrs. Elizabeth Fieldhouse, is appointed. Over a period of five days, she will hear the arguments from both sides, and some representations from local interest groups. at the end of the five day inquiry, she will make a tour of Stokes Croft, and will then deliver her verdict, after a period of six weeks. Her decision, and hers alone, will determine whether Stokes Croft will have a gated community of  predominantly one bedroom luxury flats in the heart of Stokes Croft.

Mrs. Elizabeth Fieldhouse listens to the arguments of the appelant’s counsel.

Opecprime’s Counsel, Mr. Robert Lewis, and Barrie Stanley (Architect) in discission.

Opecprime development team are:

Mr. Robert Lewis – Counsel
Tony Collins – Planning
Barrie Stanley – Architect
Dr. John Robinson – Listed Buildings
David Baber – Highways
Philip Browne – Finance

Bristol City Council Team include:

Peter Towler – Counsel
Jayne Harding – Planning
Guy Bentham-Hill – Conservation
Robin Smyth – Conservation

In the opinion of this reporter, the outcome of this inquiry is of much greater significance to the future of Stokes Croft than whether or not Tesco obtains a foothold here. This inquiry is that important.