Community Response to 'Harbour Hopes Vision' Consultation
This response has been collated by HCCA from the views of many local people through emails and face-to-face conversations. This is an edited response. To see the full document submitted please click here.
As 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 in Bristol, and as local people, we look towards the opportunities and challenges of this next stage of regeneration.
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.
HCCA makes the following more detailed, and not necessarily exhaustive comments:
Many local people are struggling to MAKE SENSE of the vision and what the City 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 City 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 'Harbour 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 City 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/Cumberland Basin project.
Plimsoll Bridge Repair
We understand that 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.
The WECA Sub-regional 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 (westofengland-ca.gov.uk) sections on the strategic road network and connectivity acknowledge (p46) the increased impact on the 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. We we would like to work with the City 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.
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.
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' Warehouse are a sign that this area has precious and diverse ecosystems that should be protected for the long term.
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, 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, but it is unclear how these new homes could be created without negatively impacting 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.
Cumberland Basin has relatively few community resources, and 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 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 centre's 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 City 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 City Council has long promised support to replace what the community of Hotwells and Cliftonwood lost at the Hope Centre. It is time to do this and regain community trust.
Business growth, and investment
The main commercial area is along Hotwell Road, and 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.
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