Mixed opinions over scheme for flats

A property developer is planning to convert a large derelict house in Cotham into eight tiny apartments with one bedroom each. 

Locals are supporting the plans but Bristol City Council staff say they should be refused due to their size and appearance in a conservation area.

The four-storey Victorian house, on the corner of Eastfield Road and Cotham Brow, has been left empty since 2021 and is “in a poor state of repair”. FPC Build Ltd would also build an extension on the end-of-terrace house and let the council widen the adjacent narrow pavement.

Council planners were recommending that councillors on the development control committee refuse permission for the conversion on Wednesday, December 13. The developer was previously refused permission for a similar scheme, both by the council and on appeal too.

Writing to the council, Green Councillor Guy Poultney, representing Cotham, said: “The site is a derelict eyesore in need of substantial investment. The property’s boundary creates a dangerous pinch point where the pavement is unnecessarily narrow, risky for pedestrians and outright dangerous for anyone with mobility issues or pushing a buggy.

“The proposed scheme will both rejuvenate the site, to the relief of nearby residents, and allow people to travel down Cotham Brow safely. The developer has consulted with the community on numerous occasions and responded to every suggestion made, turning a welcome scheme into one that now enjoys significant popular support.”

A local resident added: “The design is very in-keeping with the existing terrace and compliments the original house. The pavement running along Cotham Brow is not only a cause of congestion, but in its current state adds to the eyesore of [the house]. Hopefully this design is accepted because at the moment the house is in a terrible state.”

One issue however is turning a family home into one-bed flats. The local area already has a high proportion of flats compared to houses. Generally planners try to reach a balance between family housing and smaller homes — but not always successfully.

Another problem for planners is the extension would be built on the house’s garden, and would change views of the Victorian terrace in the Cotham and Redland Conservation Area. Areas such as these, with historic architecture, face special protections from new buildings.

A planning officer report said: “The extent of the development is considered to be too large and prominent, detracting from the character and setting of the original property. This is considered to be out of character with the surrounding area, to the visual detriment of this part of the Cotham and Redland Conservation Area.”

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service