Hartcliffe housing: Council to buy land for 350 homes

Bristol City Council will buy Hartcliffe Campus from City of Bristol College as part of a plan to build 350 new homes.

The project has been in the works since August 2017 but was finally approved by Cabinet on Tuesday.

Thirty per cent of the new homes will be affordable, but Cabinet minister for housing Paul Smith said he that hoped to raise this figure to 50%.

Speaking in a Cabinet meeting, he said he felt “emotional” about the purchase.

Bristol City Council Chamber
Bristol City Council’s Cabinet approved the motion to acquire Hartcliffe Campus on Tuesday

Housing association LiveWest will run the development with the council. It’s they who are deciding whether their finances can allow for 20% more affordable housing than planned.

What’s sure is that half of the rented affordable housing will go to locals – from both Hartcliffe and Withywood, and Hengrove and Whitchurch Park.

Smith said the feedback from locals has so far been positive. “I’m really hopeful… that we can move in families with children out of tower blocks and into housing with gardens.”

Hartcliffe Campus also adjoins the council-owned Hengrove Park, where another 1,500 homes are planned to be built.

However, some have questioned the decision to make only 30% of the new homes affordable.

Local resident Oliver Fortune wants to see LiveWest create 100% council housing.

Fortune made a statement in the Cabinet meeting saying he believed mass building of council housing would drive house prices down.

Like many, he sees market rates as out of the reach of most Bristolians.

However, he isn’t confident in getting 100% council housing. “I don’t think there’s the ambition politically for that to happen.”

“It will be nice if he could maybe reverse the equation and have it at 70% affordable and 30% market value, I think that would be a good compromise. And I think that is achievable.”

In response, Councillor Smith said he wanted to promote “mixed and balanced communities”, not dominated by either social or market housing.

He also said that “this isn’t the right place to have 100% council housing”.

Hartcliffe already has the highest concentration of council housing in the city, with just under 2,500 dwellings.

Meanwhile, the council are currently working on 11 new sites across the city for council housing – 9 of which will be 100% council housing.

This is part of Mayor Marvin Rees’ pledge to deliver 800 new affordable homes per year.

Aerial sketch of Hartcliffe Campus and Hengrove Park developments
Aerial sketch of Hartcliffe Campus and Hengrove Park developments (© Bristol City Council)

Hartcliffe Campus used to be the playing fields and tennis courts of Hartcliffe Secondary School.

Part of the site was later sold to the City of Bristol College to build on, and the rest is now overgrown.

Smith, who grew up in the area and went to the secondary school, said he was “building over my childhood”.

He plans to protect the natural value with public green spaces and a wildlife corridor running through the middle.

It is not yet known how much the council is paying for the land.

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