What's happening in 2023?

What has been happening at the Cumberland Piazza this year so far? Well, we've largely been letting the plants do their thing, and thanks to all the summer rain, we're delighted to say that they're flourishing! With the blooms come the bees and butterflies, and the spread of pollen across this urban nature corridor. It's now time for a bit of a tidy up at the piazza and members of the H&CCA management committee will be on site for community gardening, chats and cake on Wednesday 23rd August 3-6pm- we'd love you to join us!

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Summer 2021

Signs of Summer

As I write we are approaching the end of the wettest May I can remember, never mind what the official stats say, and summer feels like a distant, half remembered pleasure. But there are signs of summer emerging. Beneath rain soaked leaves strawberries are forming and soon the calendula will raise their yellow faces to the sun. The sedum are about to burst into colour and the irises are blooming blousily.

Activities will include fun taster sessions by popular local fitness guru Chris from Move More Fitness, play sessions by expert play facilitators from A & K’s Playground, community arts activities with resident artists Anna Haydock-Wilson, Amy Hutchings and Mhari Stuart, poetry, music, gardening and a skate spot launch in partnership with an amazing Bristol based events and media company, PYTCH.

How can you get involved? We welcome people who want to deliver well-being activities in the broadest sense to offer taster activities to festival go-ers. We’re also looking for volunteers to help with stewarding, first aid and children. Please contact [email protected] of you’re interested.

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Hotwells Piazza FAQs 2021

From the H&CCA community survey of 2020, and from conversations with people passing through, I’ve devised a set of answers that might help explain how the space is currently managed & funded. There are also some suggestions of how we might achieve some of the ideas and activities that people have told us they want, and reasons why some ideas can’t be realised.

Q: Who is responsible for the upkeep?

The piazza is officially managed by BCC Highways, as it is not a registered park space. They commission contractors to manage the green spaces and H&CCA has a ‘Certificate of Lawful Development’ which allows the community to paint and plant in certain areas as long as we are responsible for the maintenance of those areas. In affect that means we manage all the planters and the waste created by activities. Over the years we have established a good relationship with Bristol Waste and their Street Cleansing Team who manage the litter and empty the bins. They also have community litter pickers.

Q: What are the restrictions to activities and changes?

We are not allowed to permanently fix anything to the pillars or to the ground. If we want to create new planted areas we submit our ideas to the council with risk assessments and designs so that they can check we are sticking to the rules. We gained permissions to paint the pillars and tarmac the skate spot area and are allowed to paint when areas have been tagged.

Q: How does H&CCA decide its priorities?

We carried out several community consultation events over the years including surveys in 2014 and 2020. We analyse the surveys and come up with ideas that are achievable with the resources we have and share ideas back to the community. Taking on board people’s responses, we develop designs for projects in consultation with relevant experts such as architects, landscape designers and end users. We share these with relevant stakeholders in the council and progress the projects accordingly.

H&CCA has to also comply with our own vision and mission which is to work with local people and progress values of environmental sustainability and community cohesion.

Q: Who pays for the work that H&CCA does?

Over the years the Management Committee and other community volunteers have completed many funding applications for the changes we have delivered, such as the planters, the skate spot, the sedum beds and murals. The funding sources have included BCC City Arts, BCC Neighbourhood Partnerships, Department for Communities & Local Government and section 106/CIL (Monies paid by developers for community or infrastructure improvements). Our funding currently comes from legacy money from former chairman and long term H&CCA MC member, Ray Smith. We take spending of public money and donated money very seriously all our spending is fully accountable and transparent.

Q: What do local people prioritise for the Piazza?

In both the surveys mentioned above, people were most keen to have more green areas and more facilities for young people. Other aspirations are seating, signage, artworks and community events and activities.

Q: What about the air quality and pollution?

There are concerns about the levels of pollution for people here. This is part of the reason we are always planting more carbon absorbers, but it would be really useful to do a study and find out whether there are dangerous levels of emissions, and what the solutions might be.

Q: Why waste public money on improvements if it’s all going to be knocked down?

There’s nothing yet that says it’s all going to be knocked down. In the meantime, the improvements we make are very ‘light touch’ and not so expensive. You can find more information here https://www.hotwellscliftonwood.org.uk/cumberland_basin_western_harbour_plans_history_and_timeline or https://www.bristol.gov.uk/planning-and-building-regulations/western-harbour

Q: Can we have a market or a community event?

In order to have commercial activity we would need to apply for licenses. Vehicle access to the site is limited, so solutions for transporting goods need to be explored. For community events we need licenses for non acoustic music. There is currently no power supply. But we can explore all possibilities.

Q: What ideas do you have to fulfil local aspirations?

At the moment, everything is dependent on things we can do that are Covid safe, so ideas will be considered on what value they bring to minimise feelings of isolation, while making sure we aren’t taking any risks with infection. We’re thinking about:

  • Workshop sessions with skaters to build new structures from wood we have in storage
  • Festivals or events that can be delivered when restrictions are lifted- hopefully in the summer.
  • Increasing tree, shrub and pollinator planting
  • Measuring air pollution
  • Talking with city wide networks, such as Liveable Neighbourhoods, Bristol Civic Society, Brunel’s Other Bridge, BCC City Arts Team, BCC Growth and Regeneration Team, BCC Tree Planting team, Neighbourhood Forums and other community groups

Q: Can we turn it into a car park or a coach park? (not frequently asked these days, but it has been raised over the years)

No we definitely cannot. This would be a major traffic management challenge and does not fit with majority desires to increase green space or activities for young people. It would and could only come from the City Council and then would be subject to consultation.


Anna Haydock-Wilson Piazza Project Manager for H&CCA 5th January 2021

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Kids Summer Art Activities

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is kids-in-pocket-park.jpgAs the school summer holidays draw to a close and the rainfall & XR focus our attention on climate change, let's celebrate our local young people. This summer, led by local artist and teaching assistant, Mhairi Stuart, nearly 30 kids have adorned the piazza with their pavement art.

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Community Gardening Guidelines

We would love some help on the Piazza with weeding and watering, particularly through the summer months

On our notice board opposite the Rose of Denmark pub we have put up guidelines on how you can help. Here they are in this blog post

There are a few weeds that are particularly invasive and you can pull these up wherever you see them. Other self-seeding or wild-flower plants are great to leave as they attract bees and butterflies. If in doubt it's best to leave them.


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Community Gardening- Physically Distant, Socially Close

MAY 31, 2020

The Piazza is a big space and, although the planters are largely self maintaining, there is a bit of weeding, digging and watering that we’d love your help with. Throughout most of the year we have no need to water the plants, and when we do the rain butt is usually full. However, occasionally weeks can go by with no significant rain- like July 2018 and May 2020!

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Adapting to a Changing World

Remember just before COVID-19 struck our shores? The climate crisis was finally beginning to ride a media wave and Greta came to Bristol. Now we can be grateful to have seen traffic drop to 1950s levels and images of clear skies in Delhi and Bejing, but cars will return and the skies will thicken again as people want to return to 'normal' life.


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Hotwells Voices and 2019 Piazza changes

Since 2010 we have been asking local people what they want to see happen in this space and the three top priorities have been greening, art and facilities and activities for kids, families and especially teenagers.

Our programme has continued in 2019 with legacy funding from Ray Smith, who instigated changes to the piazza in partnership with his daughter, Zoe, a landscape designer and artist Anna Haydock-Wilson, who manages the piazza projects.

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Painting Days - 13th and 14th March

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Summer is here!

We are delighted to have a beautiful new painting by artist and founder of Collaborative Painting UK, Luke Palmer, aka Acerone. Funded by Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association, Luke painted this stunner in less than two days. Martin Booth, a journalist for Bristol 24/7 happened along while Luke was painting and wrote this article.

For up-to-date information and events check our Facebook page has changed to Friends of Hotwells Piazza & Art under the Flyover. We're really keen to get more people involved in helping make the piazza more of a community space and while Hotwells' largest open public space is officially called Cumberland Piazza, not many locals relate to that name. It's lovely the way people passing by appreciate all the work we've been doing, but it would be even more lovely to have a bit of help. Our next Community Gardening Day is Monday 15th July 2-6pm only a couple of days before we get judged by the Royal Horticultural Society South West in Bloom team. If you have ideas or expertise to share, it's a great opportunity to have your say!

HCCA has also commissioned Bristol Wood Recycling Project to build some new planters co-designed with Anna Haydock-Wilson which locals helped us fill in our last community gardening day on May 19th and Alex from LiveGraft has been back on site to help us with some more greening of the Piazza.

Sadly, in early May, weed-killer was sprayed all over the Piazza, destroying nearly £2000 worth of plants and labour. The sedum beds and chinese poppies were about to burst into flower but were almost completely destroyed along with several hebes, ferns, heuchera and others. We have had to put energy and resources into restoring the beds and we have once again requested that the council does not use weed killer on the Piazza. With climate change causing ever extreme weather around the globe we need as much carbon absorption and as many pollinators as possible.

On that note, we're in for a prolonged spell without rain and we were unable to expand out rain water harvesting capacity during an extremely wet June as someone had dumped a motorbike in front of the water butt and store-room. Can you help? Waste water is welcome- it can be as little as encouraging kids to water the planters using their water bottle on the way home from school or a more regular offer. Contact Anna by email if you're able to bring water to site in times of low rainfall.


7/8th September- Brunel's Other Bridge group are hosting activities in the Cumberland Basin to demonstrate our local heritage and amazing engineering. Over that weekend we'll provide some arts activities on the Piazza for everyone to join in

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