The Bristol region has all the key ingredients that make a place great; top class universities, fantastic employers and a vibrant and diverse local culture.
It’s because of these factors that we’re on many people’s shopping list – students, investors, innovators, creatives and professionals alike. Bristol is a magnet for growth, which is nothing short of a miracle if we compare the Bristol of today with the city’s fortunes 30 years ago.
We have managed to reverse the decline and buck the trend, becoming the most successful local economy outside of London. As a result of this, the city’s population and economy are expanding rapidly. But this isn’t without its challenges if Bristol is to continue on its growth trajectory.
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Current estimates indicate that Bristol’s population will top half a million by 2027. This represents a net increase of 72,000 people since 2011. What’s more, we are becoming a more youthful city – with people in the 20-34 age bracket accounting for around of a third of the total population living here.
These factors, among many others, pose a significant challenge in terms of jobs, transportation and housing. There can be little debate about the need to build more quality housing, yet the question of how many, their affordability and where to build them is something planners are grappling with.
Rapid population growth strengthens the case for a mass public transportation system, but what disruption will it cause and at what cost? In light of the climate emergency, how do we ensure this is fit for the future?
The employment rate (77.6 per cent) for Bristol remains the highest of the British Core Cities and is above the national average. We have a number of burgeoning growth sectors, including creative, tech and digital, education and professional services, but are the benefits of this growth shared equally amongst the population across the whole of the city?
What’s more, how do we unlock future growth potential? What are the opportunities and jobs of the future and is Bristol in pole position to capture them?
These are just some of the big questions that require bold solutions in our city. And to solve them, we need the public and private sector to join together and unite behind a long-term plan to manage the growing pains and a build a better Bristol fit for the future.
James Durie is the chief executive of Bristol Chamber & Initiative at Business West
Main photo thanks to IMDb