Restoring the River Malago in a revitalised Bedminster

Today’s blog is by Cllr Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Resilience & Floods

We’ve taken an exciting next step in the regeneration of Bedminster Green and have submitted a planning application to restore a section of the River Malago that will allow us to bring back wildlife and reduce the risk of flooding in the area.

Restoring the river is one of the many benefits the regeneration of Bedminster Green will bring to the area, along with building much needed homes in our growing city, making it easier to travel and heat homes more sustainably, and helping to revive the local high street, East Street.   

The planning application also outlines proposals to restore heritage features, create a seating area on the green that will overlook the newly emerged river, and install an accessible path and boardwalk to improve access to the edge of the Malago. The project will run between plots 1, 3 and 5 of the Bedminster Green regeneration area along Dalby Avenue/Malago Road, Hereford Street, Whitehouse Lane and Clarke Street.

We have declared climate and ecological emergencies, committing to do as much as we can to combat climate change and bring back lost wildlife in Bristol. A big part of the river restoration project is about enhancing the channel and banks of the Malago to a more natural condition to encourage biodiversity. This will include widening the river corridor, altering the flow speed to allow vegetation to grow, and removing and treating invasive non-native species to allow native species to thrive.

An artist's impression of Bedminster Green shows a restored River Malago in the foreground, with trees and green space visible before buildings in the background.

On top of being a wonderful new feature for the community to enjoy, restoring sections of the river will help to reduce flood risk in the local area. We’ll do this by lowering ground levels in the green, installing a grid across the entrance to where the river goes back underground under East Street to trap debris and prevent blockages, and making the channel narrower to improve the speed of flows to prevent stagnation.

Our proposals also deliver improvements to the heritage of the river and will facilitate the repair of historic river channel walls. The river restoration will restore the existing penstock structure, which is a metal sluice gate that’s part of Bedminster’s industrial heritage.

If the planning application is approved, construction work will take place in phases from 2023 and will be coordinated with the other Bedminster Green development works. When complete, it will help to restore the river and heritage features, reduce flood risk in the area, and create high quality green space for existing and future residents of the proposed homes in the surrounding Bedminster Green and Whitehouse Street developments to enjoy for years to come.

The planning application can be viewed on the council’s website using the reference number 23/00611/FB.