Student housing plans for former Fishponds pub

A DEVELOPER has submitted plans to convert a historic Fishponds pub into student flats.

Christian Grant Properties Ltd wants to turn the Old Tavern on Blackberry Hill into flats for 33 students.

The plans involve demolishing part of the Grade II-listed building, which closed in 2018 and had been used as a pub since at least the 19th century, and converting it into a 12-bedroom student house.

They also include a new accommodation block on land at the rear, which would have 16 more bedrooms, with a further five in the pub’s old brewery building.

Objections to the scheme have already been made by several nearby residents and Eastville ward city councillor Lorraine Francis.

Pub support group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is urging locals to get in touch to discuss ways to save the landmark pub, which stands at a bottleneck on the road, close to UWE’s Glenside campus.

In a design statement supporting the application, Bristol architects Angus Meek said: “The development would safeguard the future use of the heritage asset whilst improving the street scene within the Conservation Area and increasing the legibility of the Listed Building.

“The proposed student use is appropriate in this location and will help to relieve pressure on local housing stock while providing an attractive and convenient accommodation for future student tenants.”

How the developer says the new buildings will look

The agents describe the buildings that would be demolished as “dilapidated extensions”

The architects and developers have already converted several other historic Bristol buildings, including city centre pub The Pineapple.

The plans have been posted twice on the city council’s planning website, with 12 objections on one page and 11 on the other.

Objections range from overlooking neighbouring gardens, noise and a lack of car parking to the loss of the area’s “one remaining community facility”.

One neighbour said: “There is already a large student accommodation presence in the Fishponds area, which negatively impacts any decisions to build affordable homes or social housing instead.”

But another neighbour said: “This is a golden opportunity to demolish the pub and widen the road. The narrowness of the road at that point causes congestion and increased air pollution.”

Cllr Francis said the area already suffered from “saturation and overpopulation of student accommodation”, with a “mimimum of 80” nearby houses already converted.

Even before the application was published, CAMRA was calling on neighbours to get in touch to discuss ways of reopening the pub.

Group member Ian Beckey said: “We believe that the Old Tavern still has a sustainable long term future after a suitable makeover.  A new landlord could quite easily build up the pub’s customer base.” 

The application can be found on the city council planning website.

CAMRA can be reached at

Main picture of the Old Tavern by Ian Beckey