In June 2014, Alder King was appointed by BAE Systems to act as development manager and intelligent client to secure the sale of the former Filton Airfield site in North Bristol. This 350 acre (142 hectare) brownfield site is strategically important for South Gloucestershire and the South West region.
Alder King began looking for a suitable buyer in spring 2015 quoting £70 million. In July 2015 South Gloucestershire Council resolved to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of the site to create 2,675 homes and 62 acres of office and industrial employment use. This culminated in the sale of the site in December 2015 to the UK property subsidiary of the Malaysian-based YTL Corporation Berhad.
Alder King led the project on behalf of BAE Systems providing strategy, planning, development consultancy and disposal advice, leading to one of the largest brownfield land disposals ever agreed in the region.
Having sold the site to YTL, Alder King was retained by YTL to advise in relation to important spatial changes to the masterplan and parameter plans to secure an outline consent that would deliver YTL’s vision for a new community in the North Fringe of Bristol.
Following a lengthy period of consultation to arrive at a package both YTL and South Gloucestershire Council were satisfied could deliver all the policy requirements of the site, alongside an exciting new vision for the land, a revised proposal was submitted in March 2017. Whilst the original application remained valid and did not require a fresh submission, in reality the only element that remained unchanged was the description of development. A new resolution to grant planning permission was secured in October 2017 before planning permission was finally achieved in March 2018.
A site of this scale has numerous planning hurdles to overcome but some are unique to the site. Despite its scale the Airfield forms part of the Cribbs/Patchway New Neighbourhood that comprises 5,700 homes in total. In order to achieve comprehensive development a ‘Framework Agreement’ was required between the three principal landowners to establish a roof tax to secure necessary contributions to an Infrastructure Delivery Plan and appropriate/viable levels of affordable housing across the three sites. The process was in its infancy when Alder King’s planning team got involved and, with expertise and input from property sector colleagues, Alder King was able to offer meaningful input into all parts of an extremely complex process.
Having built excellent working relationships with Council officers through the first incarnation of the application, Alder King was uniquely placed to influence both client and officers alike in reaching satisfactory consensus on the revisions to the application. This necessitated a complete resubmission including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to test a new suite of parameter plans. The parameter plans are distinctly flexible in nature that will enable changing market circumstances to influence design over the lifetime of the project without the need for continual amendments to the consent. The structure of the condition wording is vital in that regard and has set a precedent for how all strategic sites in South Gloucestershire are likely to be handled in the future.
Alongside the planning application process, the site was prepared for sale in line with a commitment to BAE Systems to deliver a full value receipt from the sale of the site during the 2016 financial reporting period.
Several sub-projects were also dealt with as part of the instruction, including relocation of the Great Western Air Ambulance and Police Helicopters to a new base at Almondsbury and documenting the terms of an agreed charitable donation in the form of land to the Bristol Aero Collection Trust, housing Concorde.