Plans for old Bristol College met with disappointment

Site of the former City of Bristol College
Image caption Community groups currently offer anything from martial arts to massage and meditation at the site

The decision to set up a school on an old college site has been met with disappointment from a group with plans to create a self-build community there.

The Bedminster campus of the former City of Bristol College is used by a number of community groups which will have to move out by February next year.

Bedminster College Community Company said it was "a huge frustration".

The landowner said plans for the school came in after the tendering process to regenerate the land had started.

Building work on a new council-run primary school for more than 400 children is due to start in February with an opening date of September 2014.

David Parkes, director of Bedminster College Community Company, had plans for self-build housing, a health centre, a Steiner school, and a range of community, art and recreation facilities.

'Education shortfall'

He said: "We were told there were insufficient other bids to take this forward, which is a huge frustration.

"It's like Team GB entering a team into the rowing competition and being disqualified because the opposition hasn't turned up."

The land is owned jointly by Bristol City Council, Knightstone Housing Association, and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

David Warburton, the HCA's head of area, said they had initially jointly agreed a vision for new homes, retail units, employment space and community facilities, and opened the tender process in March to find a developer.

"Since then, however, the nature of the tender has been changed significantly by proposals for a new primary school on part of the site following identification of a shortfall of education provision in the area," Mr Warburton said.

"We have therefore stopped the tender process to allow the landowning partners time to bring added certainty and clarity to the project."

In the three years since the college left the site, community groups offering anything from martial arts to massage and meditation have moved in.

Alex Harvest from Artspace Lifespace, which co-ordinates the schedule of workshops and entertainment, said: "We've got a two-pronged strategy, one of which is to seek out new space so we can start making the transition over for some of the activities.

"The second is to get as much media and press in on what we're doing so people can see what an amazing thing has happened here."

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