Bristol City Council has approved plans for a private developer to build a new ground-breaking design in the St George area of the city. It will include a stilt-constructed modular building over Chalks Road car park which will house eleven apartment flats. Bristol City Council will grant ‘air rights’ over the car park at no charge to developers over a 30-year lease. This first building is expected to be a catalyst for many more which it is hoped will help ease mounting housing problems in Bristol.
In Bristol, the low carbon ZEDpods homes will be housed above ground level using a steel deck over the car park. The homes will be a mixture of one and two bedroom flats, and will house a mixed community comprising young people in temporary accommodation who may be at risk of homelessness, or key workers or single people needing affordable accommodation in a central location. House prices in Bristol now cost nine times the average salary – a leap from just three and a half times the average salary twenty years ago.
Bristol is following a five year programme called the Bristol Housing Festival which aims to build affordable homes across the city. Consultation meetings are being carried out for the public to give their feedback.
A second proposal in another car park in Fishponds, Bristol, will be built for nearby university students who cannot afford homes in the more pricey areas but need accommodation for their studies. Although they will be affordable, they will be high quality, modern looking homes that are energy efficient.
About the designer
The British company behind the concept, ZEDfactory, (Zero (Fossil) Energy Developments) was launched in 1999 and has won a raft of eco and sustainability awards for its buildings. Its first scheme, BedZED, was completed in 2002, and became the UK’s first large-scale, mixed-use sustainable development. The scheme comprises 100 homes, office spaces and community facilities and interested parties can buy tickets to tour the development.
The pros and cons of ‘car park housing’?
When developers look at building more homes they must consider how many properties to build and where to build them, along with the type of property and the availability of plots. These are all important factors, but build too many (oversupply), too quickly and house prices can quickly fall, resulting in new buyers being trapped in negative equity. However, if too few are built then a housing shortfall can result, with only the rich being able to buy a home.
The car park idea means that land already in use can be utilised in more ways, without losing important resources and limiting urban sprawl. Not only that, car parks are usually located close to local facilities, such as shops and supermarkets, and near places of employment. The downside is that you’re unlikely to get a private garden or outdoor space, and you might find the area is busy at certain times of the day – and, of course, fumes from vehicles may be considered an issue.
If you’re thinking of buying an unusual property, it is always advisable for a Chartered Surveyor to carry out a Building Survey.