Developer Crest Nicholson has appointed a masterplanner more in tune with local feelings on its troubled Canon’s Marsh development in Bristol.
Edward Cullinan Architects has been appointed following the involvement of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. The selection process, which followed the city council’s rejection of two earlier schemes, was headed by Les Sparks, chair of a CABE regional panel, and involved community groups.
The rejected schemes by Arup Associates were, said community groups, insensitive to the historic site. The groups also objected to the council acting as planning authority while it owned the freehold.
Following the rejection of the two schemes, local firm Ferguson Mann Architects came up with a masterplan. This won planning approval earlier this year, but will not be built because of Edward Cullinan’s appointment. However, partner George Ferguson said he was delighted that a new masterplanner had been appointed. He said: “I hope the process will now be led by the architect-masterplanner, with the commercial agents taking a back seat.
“If they can create a very special famous place, then it will add value for the developer. The last scheme could have been anywhere.”
Crest Nicholson has promised to continue talks with local groups and to draw up a brief for the masterplanner. It has also promised to invite local architects to submit proposals for individual buildings.
Ferguson said one stumbling block was still posed by the land purchase contract between the council and the developer. He said: “There is a danger that it pre-empts a solution in which leisure, offices and residential are developed separately. This precludes the vitality of a mix of uses.”
Crest Nicholson has been criticised for failing to involve local firms. After Arup Associates’ designs were rejected, it drew up a shortlist of London-based architects, including Terry Farrell & Partners, Burrell Foley Fischer, Rick Mather and MacCormac Jamieson Prichard.