It’s been talked about for 30 years but the first phase of a huge project to build a new suburb of South Bristol is about to get underway, after detailed plans were finally given planning approval.

The first phase of the Hengrove Park development will see work starting on 209 new homes in the next few months – and eventually 1,435 new homes will be built in total.

Half the new homes will be ‘affordable’ – mostly at social rent levels – and all the new homes will get their heating and hot water from a new community district heating network.

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The Hengrove Park development will cover an area around the size of 30 football pitches, and take up much of the park between Hartcliffe, Hengrove, Whitchurch and Knowle West that was formed after the closure of the Whitchurch Airport in 1957. A lot of the park will remain as parkland, with homes built in different phases over the next few years, starting close to the South Bristol Hospital.

The first phase of 209 homes will be one- and two-bed apartments and three- and four-bedroom homes. A total of 60 homes in the first phase will be built for social rent or shared ownership, and more than 700 of the overall total of 1,435 new homes will eventually be classed as ‘affordable’, for people on the housing waiting list.

Hengrove Park will be the largest development project in Bristol this decade, and is the biggest project being brought forward by the council’s own housing company, Goram Homes.

“Hengrove Park is a brilliant example of Goram Homes transforming council land into high quality, energy-efficient homes, with council housing in the numbers we really need,” said Cllr Barry Parsons (Green, Easton ), who is the chair of Bristol City Council ’s new Homes and Housing Delivery Committee.

An artist's impression of the new Hengrove Park development - this shows the planned energy centre
An artist’s impression of the new Hengrove Park development – this shows the planned energy centre (Image: Goram Homes)

“A third of the UK’s carbon emissions come from heating, which is why we must build sustainable homes to tackle the climate emergency. This is a long-term project that’s building the right homes, in the right place, and it will be a significant moment when diggers start on site later this year,” he added.

The boss of Goram Homes, Stephen Baker, said that feedback from the community in a series of consultation programmes, helped ‘inform the design for this phase’. That saw the height of the blocks of flats reduced from five storeys to four, added more pedestrian crossing points on the roads, and chose the best areas of paths and seats.

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“Thank you to everyone who helped us shape our plans,” Mr Baker said. “We know how important this site is to local people, so we’ll continue to work alongside neighbours, community groups and those passionate about making Hengrove Park a thriving new neighbourhood.

“We’re not only building much needed new homes here, we’re also creating new facilities and public spaces for the whole Hengrove and Whitchurch community to enjoy. So please continue to get involved as we develop our plans for further phases,” he added.

An artist's impression of the new Hengrove Park development
An artist’s impression of the new Hengrove Park development (Image: Goram Homes)

Goram Homes don’t physically build the homes – the council-owned housing developer goes into partnership with housebuilding companies. This phase of Hengrove Park is being built by Vistry Bristol. Its boss Susan Scholfield said they will get started later this year.

“Hengrove Park is a once-in-a-generation development opportunity for Bristol and we’re very excited that detailed plans for the first 209 homes have been approved,” she said. “Working in partnership with Goram Homes, we are set to transform this brownfield site into a thriving new neighbourhood, providing mixed-tenure homes at scale and a wide range of housing choices for the local community,” she added.