Western Harbour gateway scheme takes shape with three schemes going under spotlight

August 16, 2019

Three alternative schemes to transform Bristol’s Cumberland Basin into one of the city’s largest mixed-use development sites will be unveiled for public consultation next week.

The area, to be renamed as Western Harbour, has up to 20 hectares of developable land with the potential for 3,500 homes along with commercial, leisure and high-quality public open space as well as new walking and cycling routes. 

According to Bristol City Council, which is staging the consultation, the residential elements of the scheme alone have a development value of more than £1bn.

The council owns 75% of the land and has said it intends to buy the remainder of the site.

According to the council, the three concepts are designed to transform “an iconic waterside gateway into Bristol”.

The idea of redeveloping the Cumberland Basin was first mooted by previous Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson but his successor Marvin Rees has taken the idea further.

He has already been promoted the scheme internationally to global property development and finance firms as one of the city’s prime investment projects, putting it on a par with the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone and its mooted metro system.

This is against a backdrop that the area’s road system, which links Hotwells and Spike Island with the A4 and the A370 and includes bridges and flyovers built in the 1960s, is now in need of significant investment.

The three schemes are:

Western. This would create a new road on the Ashton Court side of the River Avon between the Portishead railway 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 dual carriageway 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. 

Eastern. This would 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. This 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.

Mayor Rees, pictured, 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. 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.”

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


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