Saturday, February 24, 2024

Fowlers confused as council subjects it to consultation

Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council recently launched a consultation to ask people what they want to see happen in the city’s next big regeneration area – between Temple Meads and Bedminster

Council chiefs have apologised to one of Bristol’s best-known businesses after questions over it future were raised in a big council consultation – without the council even telling them.

Bristol City Council recently launched a consultation to ask people what they want to see happen in the city’s next big regeneration area – between Temple Meads and Bedminster.

And one of the questions asked was about the future of Fowlers, the motorcycle dealership that stands in a prominent position on the corner of the Bath Road Bridges.

All the land along the south side of the river between Bath Road Bridge and the turn off to Totterdown and Victoria Park is currently the subject of a consultation from the city council, which wants to develop it with up to 1,500 new homes, in a project they’ve called ‘Mead Street regeneration’, after the street that serves the industrial units behind Fowlers.

Council chiefs said they had reassured staff at Fowlers there was no threat to their business being forced to move off their site, but then the consultation asked people what they thought about Fowlers staying or having to move.

The format of the consultation was of Bristol City Council setting out its ‘vision’ for the area between the river and the railway line beneath the Totterdown escarpment with the famous coloured houses on top. Then, at the end, people were invited to say whether they agreed or disagreed – and one of the questions asked people whether they agreed or disagreed that Fowlers should stay, which raised the possibility that the future of the dealership remained uncertain.

Fowlers is still a family-run firm and has been a Bristol institution since 1926. The firm tweeted its surprise, and said they didn’t know anything about this, describing it as ‘odd indeed’.

We hadn’t been informed that we would be subject to consultation. We very much do want to stay on the site, a spokesperson said, adding that they then sought professional advice on the question.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: Our objective for Fowlers is that they remain as part of the area, and we have expressed this to them on a number of occasions. However we are sorry that Fowlers were not made aware that mention of the business would be included in the consultation and that they found the question unsettling, and we will be speaking to them to reassure them that our aspiration has always been for them to remain on site for as long as they wish to do so.

The Mead Street consultation now live is all about helping to establish how planning applications for developments in the area are assessed in the future. The consultation refers to a document called the draft Mead Street Development Brief which has been informed by feedback from businesses, developers and local people over several years, the spokesperson said.

A number of questions in the consultation focus on the key objectives from the draft Development Brief, and one of these objectives is the aspiration to retain Fowlers. We do intend to continue to engage with Fowlers throughout the process, as well as the other important local businesses at Mead Street, and will consider all feedback to the consultation, he added.

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