The post-industrial landscape to the south-east of Bristol Temple Meads station is set for dramatic change in the coming years. Triggered by the University of Bristol's Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus planning consent granted in 2019, a new neighbourhood of residential-led development proposals has emerged.

In 2019, AWW was instructed by Watkin Jones Group and Merrion Group to develop a purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) proposal for a site off Gas Lane. Nestled amongst a variety of other PBSA proposals, and the early scheme for a second University of Bristol Campus, this site provided opportunities to respond to the existing and emerging built context.

The wealth of heritage assets still in place led the Council to designate the Silverthorne Lane Conservation Area, which encompasses our site. This, combined with an established spatial framework, gave a rich basis from which to start the design.

Two years after submitting the first planning application, the consented proposal for Gas Lane reflects the intense process of collaboration between the developer design team, Bristol City Council planning officers, local community groups, and statutory consultees including the Environment Agency and Historic England.

Celebrating the heritage assets in a contemporary way has been a fulfilling design challenge. In agreement with recommendations from the Design West review panels, we minimised the material palette to a single brick colour, with a Pennant sandstone plinth, in reference to the listed wall opposite. The use of shades of iron oxide in the metalwork also nods to the historical ironworks in the area. In response to Historic England comments, we have incorporated brick detailing that celebrates features of the nearby Feeder Canal wall, and the Bristol Byzantine style prevalent in the city.

In support of the ambitions of the Framework and the Conservation Area, we have set back the building along Gas Lane to open up the view of the Grade II* listed St Vincent's Works. We have also reinstated an historic north-south route between Gas Lane and a railway underpass leading to Dings Park to the north. These public realm enhancements will result in a more appealing pedestrian experience in the immediate area.

One consideration that affects every proposal in this area is that of flooding. Having established ground floor levels approximately two meters above the existing Gas Lane ground level, we explored how we might best use the resulting void space. The bike store has been located below the main reception area, accessed from Gas Lane, and in the south-east corner, the four meter high volume of space makes an ideal covered area for street food markets and other community-led activities.

The open railings fronting Gas Lane allow floodwater to enter the courtyard while maintaining security for the residents, and provide a strong visual reference to the historic metalwork within the Conservation Area. The courtyard will be the social focal point of the scheme and the landscaped rooftop terrace will provide some sensory relief to the hard materiality of Gas Lane and the surrounding area.

The scheme, recently granted planning consent with the unanimous support of the planning committee, is due on site next summer for completion in August 2025. This success follows on the back of the Secretary of State’s granting approval of the Silverthorne Lane development that we masterplanned for Square Bay.

We look forward to continuing working collaboratively in this area and with Watkin Jones Group and Merrion Group.

CGIs produced by Infinite 3D.