News / Cumberland Basin

Three options revealed for Western Harbour development

By martin booth, Wednesday Aug 14, 2019

A new road built on the Ashton Court side of the River Avon, new bridges over the river, and demolition of flyovers in Hotwells and Spike Island could all happen as part of multi-million pound plans to transform “an iconic waterside gateway into Bristol”.

The city council’s initial plans for the Western Harbour scheme include three options which mayor Marvin Rees promises will “unlock” a new area with homes, shops and green space.

Bristol24/7 understands that the cost of the three schemes range from £180m to £350m. It is estimated that at least £40m would be required to bring the current 1960s infrastructure up to standard and allow it to remain in use, but there is no option in the council’s upcoming consultation to keep these roads and bridges in place.

A consultation on the plans to radically change the area around the Cumberland Basin opens on Monday, August 19.

The Western Harbour covers an area including Bedminster, Spike Island and Hotwells – photo courtesy of Bristol City Council

Rees said: “We have a real opportunity to rethink the ageing infrastructure in the Western Harbour area and by doing so, create a new area for homes including much-needed affordable homes.

“It’s not just housing we want to unlock but new business, leisure facilities, open and green space too, while at the same time protecting the heritage assets in this historic area.

“At the very heart of our One City vision for Bristol is building sustainable, vibrant and inclusive neighbourhoods.”

A new road could be built through Ashton Meadows (to the right of this photo), with a new bridge over the River Avon to the Portway at roughly the location of the photo at the top of this page

Rees added: “To achieve this we must ensure everyone is well connected, with easy access to homes, employment and other essential services. For that reason we are constantly looking at opportunities to fulfil this vision and these early Western Harbour concepts are an exciting step forward.

“We have a lot more work to do before detailed options are designed, but this very early stage is the right moment to share where we have got to with the community and start a conversation about this opportunity with everyone in Bristol.

“We’d like to know what you think about these road systems, which are the first step in this major project.”

Plimsoll Swing Bridge would be demolished in all three of the proposed schemes

The Western Harbour approaches the council is asking for feedback on are:

A new road will be built on the western bank (Ashton Court side) 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.

Consolidate all the river crossings onto the eastern side of the Cumberland Basin. To create sufficient road capacity, the existing Merchants Road Bridge would be replaced by a new four-lane bridge across the Basin and a new bridge crossing over the River Avon, near the 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.

The A Bond warehouse behind houses on Ashton Avenue, which some local campaigners think could be threatened by the Western Harbour scheme

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 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.

Merchants Road Bridge between the Pump House and Nova Scotia could be replaced with a much larger structure

Drop-in sessions to discuss the ideas developed by the city council so far and give the opportunity to ask questions are taking place at:

Holy Trinity Church, Clifton Vale
Wednesday, August 21, 3pm-8pm
Saturday, August 31, 10.30am-3.30pm

Underfall Yard, Cumberland Road
Thursday, August 22, 3pm-8pm
Wednesday, August 28, 10.30am-3.30pm

Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Road
Wednesday, September 4, 10.30am-3.30pm
Thursday, September 5, 3pm-8pm

Broadmead Baptist Church, Whippington Court
Tuesday, September 10, 10.30am-3.30pm
Wednesday, September 11, 3pm-8pm

For more information, visit

The elevated roads in Spike Island and Hotwells could be demolished to make way for new homes

Read more: ‘The way the council has handled the Cumberland Basin project is insulting’

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