Building homes for everyone in Bristol

Councillor Tom Renhard, smiling with trees on College Green in the background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard,
Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery & Homes
and Labour Councillor for the Horfield Ward.

We’re building a Bristol where everyone has access to a safe, secure, and warm home, but this isn’t simple to achieve. Housing has become increasingly unaffordable, with renting and purchasing a house out of reach for many.

We continue to utilise brownfield sites, while ensuring we meet our ambitious housing targets, deliver on our climate objectives, and secure investment in social infrastructure. We want people to be able to access green spaces, local shops, health services and schools near their homes. The redevelopment of Whitehouse Street is an example of us moving forward with this work for Bristol, building much needed homes for our communities.

Cabinet recently approved Goram Homes’ new development pipeline, including 15 brownfield sites that will be transformed into new homes. The use of these sites is an example of our commitment to affordable housing across the city. This will only add to the 2,563 new homes Bristol built in 2021/22. 90% of these were on previously developed land; 474 affordable homes were built, the highest number in over a decade.

The full pipeline of sites which cabinet has approved is now 15 strong. It includes One Lockleaze (Formerly Romney House) and Baltic Wharf that were both approved in 2018. Castle Park, Dovercourt Depot, New Fosseway Road in Hengrove, Novers Hill in Filwood, St Ursula’s in Westbury Park, Portwall Lane Car Park, SS Great Britain Carpark, Spring Street, A & B Bond were all added in 2021. In 2022 we transferred Hengrove – which now has a consultation on detailed plans. And now, with this paper, we’ll add the Grove & Prince Street Car Park, as well as exploring the full potential of Western Harbour Masterplan area.

To start tackling the national housing crisis, we need to keep using brownfield sites effectively. Global estate consultants, Knight Frank, have released a report which states that over 2,000 homes could be built on government-owned car parks in Bristol and, while they won’t all be possible, this is a clear indicator that building more affordable homes is possible, if we look in the right places. Just look to Hope Rise, our award-winning project pioneering this concept in Bristol that many other areas of the country are now adopting.  

Our Whitehouse Street regeneration is another excellent example of brownfield land use, creating much needed housing and providing communities with amenities and work opportunities within the development. Since 2021, Bristol City Council has been working in partnership with The Hill Group, Galliard Apsley, Goram Homes, and the local community to develop a plan for Whitehouse Street in Bedminster which will inform the future transformation of the area into a genuinely mixed-use community of new homes, employment, and community spaces.

The photo is an Arial shot of the area for the Whitehouse Street regeneration.

For local people, the Whitehouse Street plans will deliver:

  • Around 2,000 new homes
  • Up to 15,000m2 of employment space and the potential for jobs growth
  • Employment opportunities that will complement the existing businesses on East Street and Bedminster Parade
  • Increased footfall to support the high street
  • New and improved public space incorporating pedestrian public spaces
  • Planting of new street trees
  • Sustainable urban drainage
  • Active travel routes connecting Bedminster to Temple Meads and the city centre
  • Improvements to Victoria Park
A sketch of the Whitehouse Street regeneration, this image represents the new look St. Luke's Road.

The Whitehouse Street area was historically a dense and active neighbourhood that combined homes and industry. The vision for the future is to create a new vibrant and sustainable neighbourhood which incorporates a mix of uses including homes, employment space and community space, new active travel routes along with improved public realm. 

The potential for new homes and the provision of high-quality workspace as part of this development means the Bedminster area will grow as a mixed-use development and inclusive community. This is possible due to a diversity of land uses providing opportunities for living, working, and for leisure. There will also be a temporary secondary school on land at Spring Street, whilst the new secondary school at Silverthorne Lane is built, demonstrating our commitment to building more than just homes.

A sketch of the Whitehouse Street regeneration, this image represents the Plaza View.

Our work on Whitehouse Street sits alongside our Bedminster Green/River Malago work, which sees new and inventive ways to heat homes, utilise the space available, and work with the local community to develop the area for their needs. This regeneration includes work on the River Malago, including creation of natural habitats, building new public and green spaces and restoring the existing character of the area, while reducing flood risk.

Our development pipeline includes plans across the city to use previously developed land and utilise the space to build new homes. We’re building in the majority of wards, including Portwall and Grove car parks and Baltic Wharf.

We will continue to work with local community groups, the combined authority and businesses, to improve bus links and metro bus links into South Bristol, alongside building affordable homes, supporting the provision of space to allow for the growing health infrastructure needs and green spaces. 

We are on a journey, with an ambitious vision for Bristol’s future. We will continue to work together with residents to build a better Bristol, so we can all share in the city’s future prosperity.