Historic nuclear bunker to be focal point of new housing development

People are being invited to have their say on plans to redevelop the eight-acre government buildings complex in Brislington, which includes Bristol’s Cold War nuclear bunker and the driving test centre

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) based at Flowers Hill will be relocating to various sites at the end of March. The test centre will close next month.

The site is allocated by Bristol City Council in its adopted Local Plan for housing and business development.

London-based Telereal Trillium, one of the UK’s largest property companies, is proposing to regenerate the site to create around 160 homes including the “sensitive incorporation” of the Grade II listed Bristol War Room which is at the southern end of the government estate.

Bristol War Room

The building was completed in 1953 and was one of 12 purpose-built war rooms in the country designed to withstand an atomic bomb, co-ordinate civil defence in the event of an attack, and protect regional government.

Historic England calls it “a rare survival of a purpose-built war room, built to the two-storey semi-sunken design”. The structure is said to be remarkably intact and has been little altered since built.

The only other remaining site of its kind is the Reading War Room, which is also Grade II listed.

Bristol War Room has been abandoned for a number of years and was most recently in use as a document storage building for the former Avon County Council. Various options for a new use are currently being explored and Telereal Trillium says it will be a focal point within the development.

Sam Rosenkranz, asset manager at Telereal Trillium, said: “Earmarked by Bristol City Council, this site is ideally located to secure future growth and housing delivery for Brislington. Our plans will look to provide a range of starter homes, family homes and affordable homes to help meet the varied needs of the Bristol community, whilst providing an economic boost as the city looks to recover from the current crisis.” 

The developer is working towards submitting an outline planning application to the city council and the supporting project team are currently consulting on proposals for how the site could be developed.

The proposed development is laid out along a central boulevard running north-south through the site. The design will predominantly comprise two-storey family houses with a mixture of semi-detached and terrace units along with a smaller number of detached properties.

A pair of four-storey apartment blocks are planned to the northern end of the site which will provide a gateway feature when arriving from Flowers Hill. A further three-storey apartment building is proposed at the eastern side of the site.

A large area of open space is located to the southern end, including a play area, with three smaller play areas shown around the site.

To find out more visit the project website where there is a short questionnaire which people are asked to complete by Wednesday 20th January.

The developer will review feedback and an outline planning application will then be finalised ahead of its submission to the city council early this year.

Subject to planning permission being granted, a detailed planning stage would follow, with work starting in 2022/23.

Candidates advised of alternative test centres

The website of the Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says they have been served notice to leave the Flowers Hill site and the last day that driving tests will be held there is 19th February.

“We are working hard to maintain the current testing provision in the area. Candidates can book tests at alternative nearby test centres.”

The test centres listed are Kingswood, Avonmouth, Chippenham and Trowbridge.

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