News - Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association

Community Response to Harbour Hopes Vision Consultation

This is an edited response. To see the full document submitted please click here. This response has been collated by H&CCA from the views of many local people through emails and face-to-face conversations.

A city centre neighbourhood, our community has experienced many changes over the years, some good, some bad. While the harbourside has undergone some regeneration this has coincided with a loss of community spaces, increased traffic and pollution and a loss of local shops on Hotwell Road, despite the increase in residential population.

We ask that the Council respects and engages with our local knowledge and networks as Bristol, and local people look towards the opportunities and challenges of this next stage of regeneration.

Headline Responses

Name - The historical and commonly used name for the area from Hotwells to Riverside is Cumberland Basin and all proposals should reflect this. We do not recognise “Western Harbour” as the name of the area under discussion.

Community Engagement - Ensure that the Western Harbour Advisory Group (please rename), and any other consultation initiatives invite HCCA and other local partners. To date many neighbourhood stakeholders have felt disenfranchised from the process.

Detailed Responses 

HCCA makes the following more detailed and not necessarily exhaustive comments;

The Vision

Many local people are struggling to MAKE SENSE of the vision, what the Council plans to do next. Some welcome the breadth of recognising the historic harbour context, the confluence of the river and harbour, the strategic links, the cherished green infrastructure and the threat of climate change: which will all influence how this project develops.

We welcome the reference to culture, but we want to see how this relates to community arts that enable our local ambitions to thrive. We have asked the council to work with us to ensure that future development includes such a hub for current and future residents.

Local people have a number of concerns that need to be heard and understood so that we can engage better with long-term ideas.

The Project area boundaries

HCCA is concerned that the area described and indicated in the Bristol Local Plan and the Harbours Hopes documentation has changed. This affects residents and businesses within the boundary and just beyond. We assume the policy area is that set out in the Local Plan Review Document, the Council has also talked of actions beyond the project boundary, including new housing sites which would presumably count towards the total number included in Western Harbour.

Bridge Repair

We understand that the Plimsoll Bridge needs to be repaired and we support the repair of the existing bridge. We do not support any other bridge/road schemes which bring traffic further into Hotwells or extend road systems further into the gorge. Such schemes risk raising air pollution and noise for existing and future residents.

Through traffic - the WECA Subregional Transport Plan, and BCC’s City Transport Plan are both silent on the significant increase in through traffic that Hotwells has experienced since the south Bristol link road connected via the Long Ashton roundabout to the A4 Portway route out of the City.

Whilst, the Joint Local Transport Plan - Combined Authority ( sections on the strategic road network and connectivity acknowledge (p46) the increased impact on Portway there are no suggested mitigations or plans to take traffic away from this area.

Both the Council’s Local Transport Plan and the WECA Transport Delivery Plan place great emphasis on a modal shift to public transport, walking and cycling and the planned Low Emission Zones. These policies and planned projects are welcome but they do not deal with the through traffic issues.

Flooding and mitigation

Local people have long memories of water over spilling the river banks and Cumberland Basin, especially when a storm surge combines with high spring tides. This is happening more frequently, and we doubt the long term viability of extensive development.

However, we are concerned that the Bristol and Avon Flood Strategy 2020 favours hard surface public space over blue/green adaptive climate mitigations and we would like to work with the Council and relevant authorities to find effective and adaptive solutions that create an environment which in which both people and nature thrive. Existing residents deserve to be part of the conversations leading to flood mitigation as they are the people who will suffer if the area floods.

Climate change – HCCA support the comments in the Vision re carbon zero and responding positively to the climate emergency. However, there is a disconnect between the high risk of flooding and potentially unsustainable growth. We support a fully sustainable 20-minute neighbourhood,  passive house development, use of embodied carbon, district heating schemes, etc. these are details which should go into a clear overall climate change mitigation plan and be applied appropriately to both the repair and the development of infrastructure. 

Green Infrastructure

Cumberland Basin is at the key intersection of the city harbour and the River Avon, it is where the open space of Ashton Park and the Avon Gorge meet the city. The cycle routes, footpaths and leisure spaces, including the skateboard areas and the pump track are vital to the creative and community spirit of the area. The quality of biodiversity is enormous, the recent sighting of buzzards and the kestrels living in A Bond are a sign that this area has precious and diverse ecosystems that should be protected for the long term.

Housing need

Given the fragile tidal environment as outline above, we consider that the Council’s targets for housing in this area are too ambitious and should be reviewed. The scale and massing necessary to achieve the local plan targets feel out of line with 20-minute neighbourhood ideas, post pandemic living and post BREXIT housing needs and construction industry problems.

The Local Plan states 2500 new homes. Planning approval for Clanage Road, the existing caravan site and other recent smaller schemes such as the conversion of local pubs count towards this number. Local people recognise there may be the opportunity to create some new houses in the area, to address the housing shortage in the City it is unclear how these new homes could be created without impacting negatively on the area. HCCA would like to understand better the potential mix of housing proposed. Local people would support additional affordable housing, particularly for social rent.

Community Infrastructure

Cumberland Basin has relatively few community resources, there are opportunities and capacity in the community to grow these. The biggest potential resource is the Council’s CREATE Centre: this is a much valued local resource but it is closed at weekends, is not shared with the community and includes much underused spaces.  We would like to open a conversation with the Council about shared community space in the CREATE Centre and the establishment of a weekend market in the car park.

The Cumberland Piazza is our biggest outdoor public space designed by Sylvia Crowe as part of the Cumberland Basin Gyratory. At its heyday the piazza included a vibrant café and important social meeting space. This is a potential site or meanwhile for longer term social and community space.

We would equally, like to talk to the Council about a good-sized meanwhile project, a community hub, a performance space, a place for toddlers to play and for some outreach GP services to be set up.

The Council has long promised support to replace what the community of Hotwells and Cliftonwood lost at Hope Centre. It is time to do this and regain community trust.

Business growth and investment

The main commercial area is along Hotwell Road, sadly this has declined in recent times and there are few local shops. There are some local businesses and we know that there is scope for more.

Future engagement

HCCA, as a voice of local people and businesses, is a key stakeholder in the development and future of Cumberland Basin (aka Western Harbour) We wish to see a ‘commonplace’ type digital platform set up that would enable everyone to share data, information and comments about the project as it develops. We wish to ensure that more local businesses and residents are aware of this project, and how they can contribute to the development of the area where they live and work. We want to use our community links to support this.

Article posted on 3rd May 2022

Cumberland Basin/Western Harbour

On 10th March 2022, Bristol City Council published the 'Harbour Hopes Community Engagement Report' that was prepared by their consultants 'Turner Works'.  The Engagement Report is the result of the work done in Summer and Autumn 2021.

Importantly, Bristol City Council has now published their draft 'Vision for Western Harbour'. The Council advises that their hope is, 'that this vision reflects the hopes and aspirations of people from across Bristol'.

Bristol City Council are inviting the public to comment on the draft vision. The consultation on the draft vision lasts runs between 10th March until 22nd April 2022 and we encourage everyone to respond.

To comment on the draft vision you can either follow the links on the Harbour Hopes website or participate on Bristol City Council's website.

We think it is very important that as many people as possible participate in this consultation. We would expect the Council to listen to your responses and amend the vision accordingly, hopefully for the better. 

Following the consultation, we expect Bristol City Council to publish their final (and presumably revised) 'Vision for Western Harbour' in June 2022.

Following this publication, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet will consider the vision on 7th June 2022.

Assuming the vision is approved by Cabinet, the commitments within the final version will guide detailed master-planning for the area, starting later in 2022. This master-planning will set out in detail where new homes, jobs and infrastructure are proposed to go. More consultations should then follow; however, this is your chance now to influence the Vision.

Bristol City Council has published a programme for the development of the Western Harbour, from master-planning to planning applications in 2025 and development starting in 2026.


HCCA's Response to the draft Vision

HCCA are formulating a response to the draft Vision for Western Harbour. We would value your overall thoughts on this consultation to help inform our response. We would really like to understand your views and, if you would like to share them with us, please can you email us at [email protected] . You can write as much or as little as you feel and let us know whether or not you are happy for us to quote your remarks.

Please send us your comments by 10th April.


March 2022 Newsletter

For community news from Hotwells, Cliftonwood, Spike Island and wider Bristol view our latest newsletter here.

We are always looking for contributions to the Newsletter and would love to see more input from the community, such as local stories or matters of interest. If you would like to contribute pictures, comments, stories please email [email protected]



HCCA Annual General Meeting 2021

We held our 2021 AGM in November 2021. Further details are available here.


Cumberland Basin/Western Harbour

Our timeline on the process is available here.


Further details are available on the following websites:


Hotwells Festival 2021

This festival was a celebration of words in all their forms, along with comedy, music, song and dance, and took place in and around Hotwells historic dockside over the weekend of Fri 15th, Sat 16th & Sun 17th Oct. A festival marquee was set up on the quayside outside the iconic Nova Scotia pub overlooking the historic dockside. Events took place in iconic pubs including The Nova Scotia, Merchants Arms, Underfall Café (formerly Pickle Café), and ‘up the hill’ at Eldon House in Clifton.

The festival was organised on a shoestring by a team of local friends and volunteers and was a way of bringing new audiences, live performance and much-needed trade back into local pubs. Some events were pass-the-hat-round and some ticketed – please see individual events for details. 

Details about the events during the festival can be found on their website:






The Town Green, Clifton Wood

The Town Green, Clifton Wood, otherwise known as Ambra Vale East Community Garden is a small area of land which was first claimed for the community in 1980 and registered as a Town Green in 2004. Now restrictions are easing, we have been able to resume work on the garden. More information is available here.



Liveable Neighbourhoods

For more information on our Liveable Neighbourhoods page please click here

There are Liveable Neighbourhood groups springing up all over Bristol and some wonderful examples nationally that you can see here

Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association hosted the inaugural meetings of the Hotwells & Harbourside Liveable Neighbourhoods Group to discuss how we could update our community traffic strategy, introduce low traffic streets and generally campaign for a more 'liveable neighbourhood'. 

For further information about past community ideas and aspirations, please see:



Community Survey

Thank you to all of you who completed the survey. There is plenty for the Management Committee to think about in the responses. First we thought it appropriate for you to be able to see a summary of those responses and you can find those here. In the New Year the committee will look in more detail to decide what we can do, what we might do and what we can't do and we aim then to produce a plan of action which we will share with you.



Coronavirus and our community

We are very aware that lives for everyone in our Community has been severely affected in one way or another by the Covid-19 pandemic. We want to wish everyone in our community the very best of health in these difficult times. We would be pleased to help anyone in our community if we can. So if you, or someone you know, needs help in any way please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to assist.

You can contact us by phoning 0117 929 1883 or send an email to [email protected]

We are deliberately not providing advice on Coronavirus as this changes almost daily, and advice can be found at or or

Neighbourhood help groups have been established to assist those most in need, and just to support each other. It is our belief that help is most easily provided by those closest to each other, whether that is geographical, or as members of related families. We hope there is a help group within your reach.

You might also find one of these Facebook pages useful.

To sign up for our e-bulletin/newsletter (if you are not already receiving these) please click here.

If you are part of a neighbour help group, and would like the HCCA to assist in advertising your group, then please get in touch and we can place information in our bulletin and/or on relevant noticeboards. Also if you think of things the HCCA could do to help people or groups in our community please do get in touch.

Stay Safe. Keep Healthy.



Church Lane/Mardyke steps

Many of you will know that these steps have been closed for over a year now, due to a partial collapse of some of the wall on the upper South side of the steps. Unfortunately during the period of closure, the damage has got worse, perhaps influenced by the quantity of water which comes down Church Lane.

The difficulty in securing a quick solution relates to ownership, and at present the Council’s determination to try and identify ownership and obtain an agreement re-costs of repair, which (not unnaturally) the Council does not wish to bear alone. Also, it has to be understood that in order to make this path as safe as reasonably possible it will be necessary to access the owner's land to build it back up again. The expense will be considerable and will be beyond any funds available in the community pot through the Area 1 Committee.

We are in contact with Councillor Paula O’Rourke who is leading on trying to get this up the agenda and get the Council to consider repairing first and claiming after. Those of you who have lived in this area for some time will know how problematic the issue of walls and ownership is.

We will keep pressing to try and secure an early solution.

The Mardyke Steps can be seen on Google here.