Investing in Bristol’s high streets and city centre

Cllr Craig Cheney is pictured, smiling, in a dark suit against a white background.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor for City Economy, Finance, and Performance and Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

The city centre and variety of high streets are central parts of Bristol’s character and the reason so many of us choose to live, work or study here.

To help Bristol’s high streets and the city centre to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched the City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme in July 2021 having secured £4.725 million of funding.

The aim of the programme is to help increase the number of people visiting and using these places by filling vacant premises, diversifying what’s on offer, improving their appearance, and supporting the culture and events sector to put on events and activities.

The money has been used to support the recovery of the city centre and forty seven high streets throughout Bristol, with a specific focus on nine priority high streets including: Brislington (Brislington Hill and Bristol Hill), Church Road (St George), East Street (Bedminster), Filton Avenue, Filwood Broadway, Shirehampton High Street, Stapleton Road, Stockwood (Hollway Road and Stockwood Road) and Two Mile Hill.

By encouraging people to visit and use these places, our activity continues to support businesses, helping them to survive and thrive.

Working closely with businesses, residents, community groups, the creative and events sector and other stakeholders, we have focussed on making sure that activity and improvements match the challenges facing each individual high street.

To date, we have:

  • Delivered 45 events with 116 free activity days through the culture and events programme. Analysis of 21 completed events shows over 130,000 people have attended an event to date, generating £2.08 million of additional spend in Bristol’s businesses, and we have supported 380 paid jobs in culture and events, all from an investment to date of £498,000.
  • Supported over 100 new and expanding small businesses, charities and social enterprises through the Vacant Commercial Property Grant, allocating £872,000 in grants to open new shops and premises.
  • Promoted over 400 businesses through the Where’s it to? Bristol campaign, celebrating the breadth and diversity of independent businesses that Bristol is renowned for.
  • Engaged over 1000 businesses, providing tailored support to 457 businesses and made 93 referrals to partner organisations or services.

The next phase of activity currently underway includes street scene and greening improvements across the priority high streets. Under the City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme, the focus is on improving the look and feel of our high streets by adding greenery, planting trees, improving bins and recycling facilities to reduce rubbish, and encouraging people to stay with new seating for shoppers or passers-by.

Following engagement with local residents and businesses and other interested stakeholders, plans have been drawn up for each area.

For those wanting to view and discuss the plans in more detail, we are running a series of face-to-face drop-in events and online sessions. These begin on Wednesday 15 November and run through until 1 December 2023. Details of the events and plans are available on the High Street Improvements page of our website.

Plans for Filwood Broadway are already in full swing with funding being used to support improvement to the existing children’s play area, and a pocket park has been completed on Stockwood Road, to the side of the library, adding greenery and a seating area.

The newly installed pocket park in Stockwood is pictured.

In addition to the feedback gathered from our engagement work, the plans are guided by the amount of funding available and the physical constraints of each area.

To maximise what we are able to achieve, we are working with our partners across the city to make sure our proposals integrate with other programmes of support and regeneration.

Plans for East Street, Stockwood and the city centre are still in development and will be shared at a later date.

If you are unable to join us for the face-to-face or online session to discuss the plans, comments can be sent to by Sunday 10 December 2023.

Once details of the plans have been shared, we will start work to deliver these improvements, with the aim of completion by mid-2024.