The ambition is to turn the harbour and the surrounding areas into a model for modern city centre living and quality open spaces, integrating new sustainable transport links to help retailers and businesses thrive alongside new housing.
The plans have taken a major step forward with the creation of the Western Harbour Advisory Group by the Mayor of Bristol, which brings together local businesses along with community and resident organisations, to influence early plans.
A full update on progress will be shared at a meeting of Bristol City Council’s Cabinet on 5 November.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mayor Marvin Rees said the group will help bring together interested parties to ensure the regeneration has wide-ranging benefits for the entire city and manages development in a way that supports the climate emergency.
He 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.”
With much of the land in this part of the city under public ownership, the council is considering ways to integrate a new sustainable neighbourhood whilst protecting the area’s unique waterside character. Any new development would be mixed, incorporating affordable homes, aiming to open up living, leisure and business space to everyone in Bristol, alongside improved, cleaner transport links.
Marvin 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.”
In August and September the council sought feedback on early ideas to redevelop the Western Harbour and new transport approaches it could incorporate. Responses showed that heritage, the views of the gorge, open space and reduced pollution are important to people.
As part of the engagement report, a study by engineering consultancy Arup has been published. This initially assessed nine different transport options for Western Harbour. Another option, the Hybrid, was added, bringing it to 10 assessed approaches. The study looked at different ways to replace the ageing road network around Cumberland Basin with new routes across the River Avon.
The Western, Eastern and Hybrid approaches scored the highest against criteria including cost, sustainability, impact on highway capacity and other modes of travel and the quality of development and homes that could be built for each option. The highways detail in the report was necessary for modelling work, but this does not reflect what the area would look like. Significant additional work would be required to develop these options into realistic proposals.
To read more about the latest Western Harbour update, the Arup study and engagement report, go to the Cabinet papers for November on the council’s website.