An update on the future vision for the area around the Cumberland Basin and initial responses to proposals have been revealed for the first time.
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees says the ambitious Western Harbour proposals are integral to wider plans to develop housing, promote active travel, improve public transport, manage flood risk and safeguard the city’s heritage “in a resilient and creative way”.
But radical transformation of the area, which incorporates parts of Hotwells, Spike Island and Bedminster, has already met with concern from some residents and local business owners, particularly around the impact on the environment, heritage and views, and fears that the plans are too “car-centric”.
A petition for Bristol City Council to publish the full feasibility report that led to the three options on the table has been signed by more than 3,800 people.
Now, maps detailing each of the original nine options have been made public for the first time, along with a lengthy report by engineering consultancy Arup and details of the feedback given by the 2,661 respondents during an engagement process that took place in August and September.
It has also emerged that Rees has appointed a Western Harbour Advisory Group made up of local businesses, community and resident organisations – but no local councillors – to help shape early plans for the major regeneration.
Speaking ahead of the cabinet meeting on November 5, the mayor said: “We have the opportunity to open up this part of Bristol to everyone and ensure it better serves people in the surrounding neighbourhoods too.
“We have no choice but to change the way we do things to react to challenges such as the climate emergency.
“This means rethinking how we develop housing, promote active travel and the growth of public transport, manage the increased risk of floods and safeguard our heritage in a resilient and creative way.
“As Western Harbour is only a few minutes’ bike ride and 25 minutes’ walk from the city centre, with the right development we could bring more living back into central areas, as part of revitalising our city centre.
“As we are still at the early stages of this exciting project, collaboration with everyone who uses this space is vital and the advisory group will help us develop a masterplan for Western Harbour.
“The group will also work closely with a wider reference group. We have already met with a number of local businesses to take their views into account and are listening to residents.”
The three final options consist of:
This would create a new road on the western bank of the River Avon between the Portishead rail line and the river. With a new bridge included, it would provide two lanes in each direction and would require works to the river bank.
The existing Plimsoll Swing Bridge and all elevated road structures in Hotwells and Spike Island would be demolished, along with the elevated bridges crossing the River Avon. Traffic travelling between the north and south of the River Avon would use this new road. Within Hotwells, there would be the opportunity to retain the existing one-way system or modify it to create two-way streets.
This would consolidate all the river crossings onto the eastern side of the Cumberland Basin. The existing Merchants Road Bridge would be replaced by a new four-lane bridge and a new bridge crossing over the Avon, near A Bond warehouse. A new junction would be created with the A370 Jessop Underpass and A3029 Brunel Way. The existing Plimsoll Swing Bridge and elevated road structures would be demolished, along with the elevated bridges crossing the River Avon.
Combines elements from the Western and Eastern approaches. It would create a new road, providing one lane in each direction on the western bank of the River Avon, accessed via a new bridge (south of the Suspension Bridge).
This road would only be used by vehicles travelling between the A4 Portway and Ashton Gate, Bedminster, Southville and Long Ashton, as well as the A370 or A38 (to the south). It also creates a new bridge crossing over the Avon (near A Bond), connecting Bedminster to Spike Island. The stretch of Merchants Road between Hotwell Road and Merchants Road Bridge would be made two-way. Merchants Road Bridge would be replaced. The existing Plimsoll Swing Bridge and elevated road structures would be demolished, along with the elevated bridges crossing the River Avon.
The report to cabinet notes that almost 78 per cent of responses to the engagement exercise came from the 50 per cent least-deprived areas of the city.
Among respondents, just under 25 per cent said they were opposed to any change in the area, 22 per cent said they wanted to hear more about changes for sustainable transport, rather than the car, while around 18 per cent were concerned about the environmental implications.
It was also noted that more information was needed on the proposals, and in particular the type of housing.
The council says that any new development would be mixed, incorporating affordable homes, and aim to “open up living, leisure and business space to everyone in Bristol, alongside improved, cleaner transport links”.
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Rees added: “It’s not about a road system – although looking at the existing network in a different way could help us create more viable, sustainable transport options such as water taxis.
“Our emerging vision for Western Harbour means looking ahead to ensure our communities have the opportunity to thrive by integrating new homes, jobs, shops and workspace in this area.”
Funding of up to £150,000 has been earmarked from council reserves for ‘scheme development costs’, including master planning, engagement and work with Historic England. It is anticipated that £100,000 will be spent in 2019/20 with the balance committed in 2020/21.