Bristol’s Western Harbor plan promises to save the Riverside Garden Center

A draft vision to transform the area around Cumberland Basin in Bristol has been released, proposing that half of all new housing there be designated as ‘affordable’.

Plans for Western Harbor also include converting a bonded warehouse into a mixed-use cultural center serving the entire city. Bristol City Council has also confirmed that the Riverside Garden Centre, which feared Western Harbor could force its closure, will be considered in the amended plan.

Community feedback inspired the vision to build on the region’s heritage and will guide the master planning process later in 2022, according to the council. The garden center and pump track will be incorporated into the plan.

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This new vision comes after initial proposals set out plans to close or even demolish the Southville Garden Center due to proposed new road alignments – two of the three initial ideas were meant to show a new main road being built through the car from the park center.

Although they were included in initial meetings to discuss plans, Bristol Live reported in 2019 that those running Riverside – a social enterprise – said they were not told of any further developments until many of their employees, who lived locally, received letters across the door about the consultation.

The council have since gone back to the drawing board and started the consultation process from scratch last autumn, spending £150,000 to do so. The council announced that a firm would come to spend six months organizing an ‘inclusive, city-wide engagement with Bristol’s citizens and stakeholders’ to get opinions on what the council and Mayor Marvin Rees were already calling ‘Western Harbour’.

At the time it was also reported that the scheme could see up to 3,000 new homes built at the western end of Bristol’s floating harbour, in and around Cumberland Basin and on the south side of the River Avon New Cut at Ashton Meadows and the end of Coronation Road.

The council and mayor’s vision was to radically change the road network with new river and port crossings, remove the 1960s ramps and open up the area to build a new port suburb of Bristol in the remaining space.

Until April 22, Bristol City Council says Bristolians who visit, work and travel through Western Harbor – and those who don’t yet – can share their views on the commitments identified in the draft vision.

The new consultation documents acknowledge that in previous consultations, respondents said they did not want high-rise apartments in the area, despite this being a cornerstone of the city’s housing policy. mayor to build the housing Bristol needs and make it affordable.

The report states, “What people don’t want: high-rise housing as a sign of greed for the good of the community. While the general sentiment towards affordable housing is positive, despite the daring height of bonded warehouses, there is a strong sense of estrangement from the high-rise buildings, the gentrification they represent and the perception of a subsequent loss of community.”

The council says it has “deliberately taken a long-term, step-by-step approach to the regeneration of the area, recognizing its importance to the people of Bristol and the need to ensure that all plans reflect what Bristolians want it to be”.

It also states that “connecting the area to the River Avon would be central to any new development, providing access to nature and recreation, tranquil spaces and strengthening the river as a wildlife corridor”.

A spokesperson said: “Additional public consultation and feedback on the project will help refine a final vision. These commitments will then help – subject to Cabinet approval – to guide and shape the master plan from later in 2022, which will set out in detail where the new housing, jobs and infrastructure that Bristol needs could go.”



Young Bristolians take part in a Shape My City session in partnership with Design West as part of the ‘Western Harbour’ consultation project for the Cumberland Basin

However, just last week, Bristol Live reported how councilors expecting to consider new proposals to revamp the Cumberland Basin were presented with “nothing to consider” but “kid’s drawings”.

At a council meeting on Monday February 28, they were summary and projected report 15 slides, mostly containing photographs from the series of “viewing days” held in the fall, when the municipality went back to the drawing board after losing residents’ confidence in its intentions.

The slideshow also included a “vision” for the future Western Harbor comprising four guiding “principles” but no details and a few sentences “distilled” from feedback at events called Listening Labs and Creative Workshops, which involved actors and activities including plasticine modeling. . Councilors expressed concern that the consultation was a meaningless “tick-box exercise”.

In total, between September and December 2021, the engagement program took place over a total of:

  • 10 in-person creative workshops

  • 2 Creative Workshops online

  • 7 online listening labs

  • 2 in-person sessions at Riverside Garden Center and Docks Heritage Weekend

  • 2 Walk and chat

  • 2 days of viewing

  • 1 month of exposure

And, online, the council received 599 comments on the Harbor Hopes map and 81 online “principles of place” (ideas or guides to follow when making changes to Western Harbour).

Of this latest draft, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: “This vision gives us a clear understanding of the kind of place Bristolians want Western Harbor to be. The ideas and principles set out in the vision are ambitious and far-reaching.

“We are committed to making Western Harbor an example of how transformative and positive change can come about that supports community life, while addressing the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and changes in the way people live. we live, work and play in our cities.

“We know how important this area is for the local population and for the city at large. To ensure that the vision reflects the hopes and aspirations of the community, we spent months engaging with and listening to the community to come to this. These conversations shaped the preliminary vision for Western Harbour, and now we want more public input first. more detailed decisions about the future are made.

Writing in a blog post, he said: “Clearly there are some things you want us to prioritize: the future role of bonded warehouses, housing the much-loved Riverside Garden Center and the Pump Track; l importance of public space, and ensuring that new housing includes a high proportion of affordable housing for the city.”

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