Bristol’s Western Harbour concepts unveiled

Three concepts designed to transform an iconic waterside gateway into Bristol will be unveiled next week.

From Monday 19 August, Bristol City Council is asking for feedback on changes to the ageing Cumberland Basin road system, which could unlock a new and enhanced ‘Western Harbour’ area with homes, shops and green space. To find out more and give your views, go to Please note the survey goes live on 19 August.

The road system, which links Hotwells and Spike Island and the A4 and the A370, features bridges and flyovers built in the 1960s which are now in need of significant investment.

Three new ideas are being considered to create a simpler, less intrusive road network. This could release space for a mixture of new homes, retail and leisure development, plus high quality public open space and new walking and cycling routes.

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. 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.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

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

Western – create a new road 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 (dual carriageway) 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.

Eastern – consolidate all the river crossings onto the eastern side of the Cumberland Basin. To create sufficient road capacity, the existing Merchants Road Bridge (lower bridge) would be replaced by a new four-lane bridge across the Basin 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.

Hybrid – 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 Hotwells Road and Merchants Road Bridge would be made two-way (currently one-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.

For full details and maps of the approaches, go to (the survey goes live on 19 August).

It’s estimated that at least £40m would be required to bring the ageing infrastructure up to standard and allow it to remain in use. It would need new bridge movement equipment, reinforcement of elevated structures, as well as general maintenance and condition surveys.

The council commissioned consultants Arup, Alec French and JLL to undertake an initial feasibility study in 2018 to consider ways to reconfigure traffic movements in the area. From the initial assessment looking at how to regenerate the area and consider traffic flows, these three proposed approaches have been explored in more detail.

After considering feedback captured in the survey, the council will seek approval from Cabinet later this year on the next steps involving a masterplan for the area and more detailed options which could be developed.

Drop-in sessions:

These sessions will be held to discuss the ideas developed so far and give the opportunity to ask questions.

Holy Trinity Church (Clifton Vale, Bristol, BS8 4ST)
Wednesday 21 August, 3pm-8pm
Saturday 31 August, 10.30am-3.30pm

Underfall Yard (Cumberland Road, Bristol, BS1 6XG)
Thursday 22 August, 3pm-8pm
Wednesday 28 August, 10.30am-3.30pm

The Snug in The Tobacco Factory (Raleigh Road, Bristol, BS3 1TF)
Wednesday 4 September, 10.30am-3.30pm
Thursday 5 September, 3pm-8pm

Broadmead Baptist Church (1 Whippington Court, Bristol, BS1 3HY)
Tuesday 10 September, 10.30am-3.30pm
Wednesday 11 September, 3pm-8pm

Press release by Bristol City Council.