Projects

tHE VASSALL CENTRE

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The Vassall Centre

Bristol Charities is developing proposals to transform the Vassall Centre in Fishponds into a vibrant new neighbourhood centre for multigenerational living and working.

Outline ideas have been published and are available here and are on display at the Vassall Centre. Local residents, tenants and stakeholders are invited to share their views – see details and a link to an online survey below.

Bristol Charities purchased the site in spring this year and have been working with Bristol architects, AWW, to develop ideas to deliver much-needed, affordable, high-quality homes for older people and families, along with accessible, contemporary workspace for businesses and charities and a range of new community facilities.

The Vassall Centre was built in 1945 as a base for American soldiers and currently offers affordable, accessible workspace and conference facilities for businesses, charities and not-for-profit organisations. The buildings are now at the end of their practical lifespan and offer very low levels of energy efficiency and sustainability.

The proposed new centre will be made up of three areas, offering contemporary homes for older people at one end of the site, affordable homes for families at the other, and workspace, community facilities and shared, public outside space in the middle. Its modern, high-quality design will significantly improve the visual appeal of the centre and will include landscaped, outdoor space for the use of tenants and residents whilst also reducing barriers and increasing public access throughout the site. Biodiversity will also be significantly increased including new trees, planting and space for wildlife.

Potential community facilities include a nursery, café, and a landscaped courtyard, with a view to encouraging interaction between older people and children and staff in the nursery.

Bristol Charities is committed to the site for the long-term and plans to own and manage the housing for older people, community facilities and workspace. Brighter Places, a highly experienced charitable housing association based in Bristol, has been selected to develop and manage the affordable housing.

Bristol Charities will also continue to offer accessible workspace for charities and businesses. It is proposed that construction will take place in two phases, so that tenants can continue to operate from the site whilst work is underway. The newly built, upgraded workspace will be of much higher quality than the current offices, highly sustainable and built to last.

Anne Anketell, chief executive officer at Bristol Charities says:

“We are really excited to be able to share our outline ideas for the Vassall Centre with people already working here and our local neighbours. We are hoping to deliver much-needed new housing for older people and families and build a really connected and supported community for everyone living and working here. The views of local residents and tenants are hugely important to us so we’re asking people to join us for brief consultation events either in person or online, or simply to visit our website to view the details and share their views and ideas.”

Richard Gore, chair of trustees at Bristol Charities added:

“We believe these proposed new facilities will breathe new life into the site, opening it up to people living in the area, making much better use of the space and increasing public and community facilities, green space and biodiversity. We are looking forward to hearing the views and ideas of our neighbours and tenants in order to create a high quality, sustainable and attractive new centre that is built to last.”

Anna Klimczak, chief executive officer at Brighter Places added:

“We are delighted to be working with Bristol Charities as a trusted partner to develop and manage high-quality, affordable homes for this transformative multi-generational redevelopment. Brighter Places’ strength is in collaborative partnerships and providing sustainable living now and for the future. We look forward to working with partners involved in the Vassall Centre, and to listening and responding to the community needs to deliver high-quality, energy efficient homes with low environmental impact.”

Commenting on the proposals, Tom Renhard, Bristol City Council cabinet member for housing delivery and homes, said:

“I welcome these proposals to deliver a really forward-thinking, mixed use, intergenerational scheme on this site and am excited to hear more about the proposals as Bristol Charities shares its early ideas with residents and neighbours, and those based at the Vassall Centre.
It’s great to see such a strong focus on integrating supported homes for older people with affordable housing for families. I would encourage members of the local community to take part and share their views and ideas through the consultation events later this month – in person or online.”

Outline Proposals and Feedback

The views of local residents and tenants are hugely important to us. Please see our outline proposals below.

You can share your views by clicking the button below and completing our online survey:

Alternative accessible formats of the consultation material and survey are available on request. Please contact: [email protected] or call 0117 977 2002.

We have held a series of meetings with tenants and the local community to present our initial ideas and hear people’s views. These views and comments will be taken into account as we develop our proposals.
Further meetings and discussions will then be held in the new year to outline and hear views on the next stage of proposals ahead of submitting a formal planning application.

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ1. What is Bristol Charities?

A. Bristol Charities is a registered UK charity and our mission is to provide opportunities and support for people and communities to improve lives through grants, housing and charitable projects.
The charity has transformed and enhanced the lives of those in need in Bristol for over six hundred years.

FAQ2. What does Bristol Charities plan to do with Vassall Centre?

A. Bristol Charities’ vision for the Vassall Centre site is to create a vibrant new neighbourhood centre for multigenerational living and working. This will include new, high quality, affordable homes and accessible, contemporary workspace for businesses and charities, along with community facilities.

FAQ3. Where will the new homes and workspace be built?

A. The new centre will be made up of three areas, offering contemporary homes for older people at one end of the site, affordable homes for families at the other, and workspace, community facilities and communal outside space in the middle.

Current designs include better use of existing empty areas of the site and the large, private car park. Construction will take place in two phases. We are working with all tenants on plans for on onsite, temporary accommodation during construction and relocation into the new centre, once complete.

FAQ4. Who will the new homes be for?

A. Bristol Charities supports a wide range of people and communities in Bristol and South Wales. The new homes for older people would be for people from the local community and wider Bristol who are in need of housing. The vast majority of people Bristol Charities supports are on lowest incomes or housing benefit. The affordable homes for families will be delivered in second phase of construction and developed and managed by Brighter Places, a highly experienced charitable housing association based in Bristol.

FAQ5. Who will own and manage the affordable homes for families?
The affordable homes for families will be delivered in the second phase of construction and developed and managed by Brighter Places, a highly experienced charitable housing association based in Bristol.

Brighter Places was established in 2021 through the merger of United Communities and Solon South West. It manages 3,300 homes for Bristol and surrounding areas and aims to build brighter futures by delivering 1,000 new homes by 2027.

FAQ6. What will happen to charities and organisations who are currently based at the Vassall Centre?
A. Construction will take place in two phases. We are working with all tenants on plans for on onsite, temporary accommodation during construction and relocation into the new centre, once complete.

The newly built, upgraded workspace will be of much higher quality than the current offices, highly sustainable and built to last. We are holding discussions with all tenants to understand their individual requirements and to help inform plans and designs for the new facility

FAQ7. What are the timescales for the plans?

A. Ideas and designs for the site and new housing facilities are still in development. We are in touch with tenants, local residents and community groups and representatives to discuss our ideas and seek feedback in order to inform our proposals. We hope to submit a formal planning application in the spring.

FAQ8. What will happen to the on-site parking?

A. There is currently a large and unrestricted parking area in front of the Vassall Centre. The majority of leases do not include any details about parking provision and allocation. The designs have been developed to make the best use of the space and deliver much-needed affordable, new homes for older people and families. We will liaise with all tenants and regular centre users to understand their requirements. We do not anticipate any changes to the current parking arrangements in the short term.

FAQ9. How can people comment or share views on the proposals?

The views of local residents and tenants are hugely important to us. Outline proposals are available on this page and a link to our online survey where people can share their views and ideas.

We have held a series of meetings with tenants and the local community to present our initial ideas and hear people’s views. These views and comments will be taken into account as we develop our proposals. Further meetings and discussions will then be held in the new year to outline and hear views on the next stage of proposals ahead of submitting a formal planning application.

If you have any questions, or require information in alternative formats, please contact [email protected] or call 0117 977 2002 .

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