Category Archives: Connectivity and Transport

Making Bristol’s transport network safer for all

Transport in Bristol is a challenge regardless of your mode of travel. Bristol is a historic city with many protected buildings with old, constrained roads, covering a small area for our rapidly growing population. Shorter-term issues, like the shortage of bus drivers at First Bus, are causing huge frustration for us now, but our transport network has even deeper flaws.

Bristol has had no mass transit system for decades and underinvestment in infrastructure for even longer. Compounding those problems was a post-war rebuilding of our city imagined at a time when the motorcar was king.

We continue to face these challenges while modernising our infrastructure, pedestrianising swathes of our city, and growing our economy inclusively and sustainably.

When dealing with transport planning, the single biggest flaw is to approach the challenge through a single prism and a single focus. Our challenge is to enable people’s movement while bringing people with us on a journey to sustainable, efficient, low carbon travel.

Many campaigns struggle: alienating and isolating people, building barriers to growing support for change.

More immediately, our cycling plans are published in our Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). Our driver for the LCWIP proposals have been the clear disparity of cycling journeys to work between wealthier and more deprived areas of the city. This plan contains routes to enable the growth of cycling amongst more disadvantaged communities.

In addition to the above all developments and infrastructure plans, we want to maximise the inclusion of safe cycling with segregation where possible. We’re also investing in a new £14 million Family Cycling Centre in Lawrence Weston, where cycle training will take place as part of a wider family cycling offer.

Active Travel England have set out standards that we aspire to where they are deliverable. We want to deliver infrastructure which enables growth of cycling amongst more disadvantaged communities.

As part of our work with the West of England Combined Authority we’ve been able to begin the project for a programme of cycle hangars in the city. We will use the funding which will be made available at the January committee to prioritise cycle hangars for council blocks. The project scored blocks against strategic criteria such as their links to strategic cycling network, levels of deprivation, and car ownership. This identified 168 cycle hangar spaces for sixteen sites, and we’ll begin installation next year.

Bristol has a clear transport hierarchy which prioritises pedestrians and then cyclists. Our work to bring e-scooters to Bristol and the huge take up they have seen has also driven alternative travel to cars, taking around 3 million car journeys off our roads and saving hundreds of thousands of kilos of CO2 emissions.

It is important to address issues with Bristol’s transport infrastructure in a way that benefits all residents and the different methods of travel.

Moving traffic offences make our roads unsafe for all road users and pedestrians. People with limited mobility and additional access requirements are especially vulnerable to people who ignore the rules of the road. These offences include driving through a ‘No Entry’ sign, going the wrong way in a one-way street, turning left or right where this is not permitted, and driving where and when motor vehicles are not allowed. In December’s Cabinet meeting we will consider a report that applies to the Secretary of State for Transport for new powers over moving traffic violations to Bristol. More details on the six enforcement sites are available here.

This is an example of a multi-issue, focused approach to improving Bristol’s transport network, that makes travel safer for cyclists, pedestrians, and all road users.

We are introducing a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to Bristol. While three-quarters of cars won’t be affected, high polluting cars will be charged for driving through a city centre zone. The CAZ will clean up the air that we all breathe, and our £42 million support fund is helping people and businesses to upgrade their vehicles. This is a holistic approach to improving how we can travel across our city. At the same time as reducing congestion and making travel easier, it will improve the health of cyclists, walkers, and residents traveling through Bristol.

Read my article with Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, in the New Statesman, highlighting the importance of cleaning up the air we breathe.  

Our mass transit plans have progressed and are ready to be completed by the next administration and the combined authority. This is the single most transformation approach to transport in our city for a century and will remove more car journeys than any other initiative, paving the way for far greater implementation of segregated cycling and active travel like other modern cities. 

Introducing a new journey sharing platform for Bristol commuters

Councillor Donald Alexander smiling on College Green, in front of City Hall. He has trees behind him.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Donald Alexander, Cabinet Member for Transport.

With Bristol’s Clean Air Zone starting next week, now is a good time for us all to continue considering how we can change the way we travel, to reduce our impact on the environment and make the city’s air cleaner.

To give commuters a helping hand, we’ve launched Join My Journey. This is a free to use online platform, which matches people up from the same workplace to share walking, cycling and car journeys.

It’s a great way to save money, reduce rush hour congestion and pollution, and connect with co-workers.

We’ve commissioned it, working alongside Travelwest and South Gloucestershire Council. We are now encouraging business leaders across Bristol and South Gloucestershire to sign up their companies and organisations so their staff can easily share journeys to work.

To get started all you need to do is register with the website and create a company hub. Once it’s been verified, you can then invite your colleagues to start using Join My Journey.

Anyone who doesn’t have many people to commute with at their workplace, the site can link up smaller businesses through an area hub. This means you can share journeys to work with people who live nearby or on the same route, who are travelling to the same area.  

Not only will it have a positive impact on the environment, but you could save money if you and some of your colleagues take it in turns to drive one another to work by sharing fuel costs and cutting down on the wear and tear of your vehicle.

We also wanted to give people the option to buddy up when walking or cycling to work, which is especially handy as we head into winter as it gets dark so early. It’s a good way to connect with people, keep fit, and enjoy the journey.

Users of Join My Journey smile in front of a car and a bicycle, Southmead Hospital is in the background.
Join My Journey at Southmead Hospital.

To make the most out of the platform, we need as many users as possible to register and create journeys. Our advice is, if you don’t find a match for your journey straightaway, keep checking as the more businesses and individuals that register, the more likely you are to find a match.

We’ve been trialling Join My Journey with the University of the West of England and North Bristol NHS Trust. More than 100 people have signed up so far and the feedback has been positive, especially because all the matching up is done behind the scenes, so all they need to do is encourage their staff to sign up.

To use Join My Journey, simply register, create or join a hub, search for a journey, then join a journey or host one.

Safety features include only being visible to colleagues in the same workplace or agreed businesses nearby. 

Get started at joinmyjourney.org.uk today.

To discuss how your business could benefit from setting up a company hub, email travelwestbusiness@bristol.gov.uk.

The Join My Journey poster. A purple and white background has cartoons of bikes, cars and people. Gold and White text reads: joinmyjourney Share your journeys with others to save Money and the Environment - Register at joinmyjourney.org.uk.

Building a better Bristol

Bristol is a rapidly growing city. One of the fastest growing areas in England and Wales, our population has grown by 10% in the last decade. We need to work together to make sure that Bristol grows well, with local communities benefiting from the change happening on their doorstep. Regeneration will bring city-wide benefits so that everyone can thrive.

To ensure these changes are as positive as possible, we have a vision to create vibrant communities with sustainable, inclusive economic growth. Quality affordable homes and job opportunities will be in locations where we can have reliable, frequent public transport connections and be within walking and cycling routes.

As I shared at last month’s State of the City Address, we are elected to shape the city and the outcomes we want for it. The changes coming for Bristol cannot be left to the chances of a developer aligning with an out-of-date Local Plan and a quasi-judicial process. So, we work to push the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, affordability targets, mixed tenures, modern methods of construction, and active frontages. We want to make sure the changes happen as coherently as possible. It’s essential we work in partnership with landowners, developers, and local communities, to create development frameworks which will set out the principles that will guide and inform how change will take place in an area.  

A map of Bristol with highlighted areas showing regeneration projects across the city. Western Harbour is highlighted pink, Bedminster Green is highlighted green, Southmead is blue, City Centre is purple, Whitehouse Street is deep blue, Frome Gateway is orange and Temple Quarter is red.

Bristol’s transformation is already in progress. Our regeneration programme stretches from Bedminster to Temple Meads, St Judes’s to Broadmead, and includes Western Harbour, Hengrove, and Southmead. This can seem overwhelming, especially after decades of under-delivery by the Council, but we have to recognise the changes are a key part of delivering much needed housing, transport infrastructure, and low carbon energy systems. We have to work with existing communities to manage Bristol’s inevitable growth and plan for it.

We need to deliver thousands of new homes by 2036 to match continuing population growth. We also need to invest in transport networks and infrastructure so people can work and learn. We all need to have access to green spaces, and community spaces. What’s more, we need to do this in a way that will help us be a carbon neutral and climate resilient city by 2030 while also improving wildlife and ecology. We have ambitious plans to support these goals.

We’re developing the District Heat Network, connecting energy users across Bristol to a ready supply of affordable, low-carbon heating. The District Heat Network includes the installation of new energy centres at Whitehouse Street, Frome Gateway, and the City Centre. Our Heat Hierarchy will be adopted by every developer when new housing projects are confirmed, energy efficient homes will make residents use of heat more efficient, lowering the cost.

The rivers Frome, Avon, and Malago run through some of the regeneration areas, but in many parts the Frome and Malago are hidden or unloved. Working alongside developers and landowners we have the opportunity to recover and restore these precious habitats. In Bedminster Green, the River Malago will be ‘daylighted’, uncovered from underground tunnels and its natural features restored. Restoring the river brings great benefits; improved flood resilience and biodiversity throughout the river’s course and new green public spaces for people to enjoy. 

We’re focusing on keeping the roots and history of Bedminster and making sure the heritage of industrial space works in harmony with the need for housing, jobs, and our response to the climate emergency to create a modern, thriving neighbourhood. 

We are creating new communities and revitalising Hengrove, with 1,435 new homes being built at Hengrove Park, 50% of these will be affordable. This means more homes for households who cannot afford to pay market rents or buy homes at market value.

To revitalise the local economy and help businesses on East Street, we are making sure that 5,000 residents in new housing in Bedminster Green and Whitehouse Street have easy access to shops with new walking, cycling and public transport routes. A few minutes more travelling will bring residents to the city centre and beyond.

We’re to create a network of low-carbon transport routes, which will make car-free travel in Bedminster and the surrounding areas easier and excellent public transport links connecting people to Temple Quarter. In June, we secured £95 million to kickstart its first phase of delivery around Temple Meads station. 

Our ambition for the Frome Gateway area, located in St Jude’s to the east of the city centre, is for an exemplar neighbourhood. We want it to be recognised for its unique identity, ability to support healthy sustainable communities, and high-quality and sustainable design. Regeneration there, as across Bristol, must include our commitment to retaining a range of employment to help ensure a diverse and growing economy. 

We know the community is strong and but also faces some of the highest levels of socio-economic deprivation in the city. Regeneration will need to provide meaningful opportunities to improve quality of life for the local community and access to opportunity. St Jude’s is also more vulnerable than other parts of the city to flood risk and heat wave caused by climate change and responding to this is a key priority. Our Bristol Avon Flood Strategy, in cooperation with the Environment Agency and developers, will deliver flood defences that work for Bristol: better protecting homes and businesses near our city’s rivers.

Change at Frome Gateway is not driven solely by Bristol City Council. We have to work with the network of landowners, existing businesses, community groups and cultural facilities. We’ve also partnered with South Gloucestershire Council, Wessex Water, and the Environment Agency secure funding to deliver the River Frome restoration project. 

In a similar way, the Council’s city centre team is working with businesses and other stakeholder groups to revitalise the city centre through the City Centre Development and Delivery Plan’. They told us what was important to them now and in the future looking at the centre’s character, economy, housing, movement, streets, parks, green spaces, and climate change, and our design proposals will focus on this guided by the ‘Citizens Brief’.

By planning and co-ordinating development we’ll able to think strategically about how a city impacted by the pandemic can recover and thrive with a modern, vibrant, commercial centre everyone can access.

Bristol will always be changing and growing in different ways, and we have to adapt and seize the opportunities this will bring us. By having a clear vision of the future we want, with sustainable and inclusive growth at its heart, we can build it together.

Want to know more?

Details about all the regeneration projects can be found on their websites.  

All our regeneration work is in service of the Bristol Local Plan, which Cllr Nicola Beech, who has responsibility for Strategic Planning, Resilience and Floods, talked about recently

We will soon be asking what people think of draft Whitehouse Street framework when the consultation opens on 17th November.

If you would like to help us shape these projects, or receive regular updates on project developments and engagement opportunities, please take a look at the websites and sign up to our mailing lists: 

Bedminster Green

Whitehouse Street

Frome Gateway

City Centre

Temple Quarter

Western Harbour

Southmead 

Investing in floating harbour’s wildlife and boating community

The map shows the location where the Capricorn Quay pontoon will be. On the waterfront opposite SS Great Britain.

The Floating Harbour in the heart of Bristol is over 250 years old. Functioning as a commercial dock until the mid-1970s, the harbour is now a major tourist attraction with museums, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, whilst also maintaining a working shipyard. It annually plays host to the Harbour Festival, one of the country’s largest free festivals.

Significant investment is needed to keep the harbour running, and our plans for a new pontoon at Capricorn Quay are a step in the right direction. We are creating a large floating ecosystem combined with new moorings.

The increasing the number of moorings by 32 will provide additional income that will assist management of the harbour and its wider environment.

Combined with an integrated floating ecosystem, that connects nearby protected habitats, to improve homes for wildlife as well as overarching biodiversity value and climate resilience for the city. This is in line with the One City Ecological Emergency Strategy goal for 100% of Bristol’s waterways to have excellent water quality which supports healthy wildlife.

The project will provide a large area of floating habitat that will be both visually attractive and functional. It will transform this section of the harbour into a ‘living water park’, the subsurface forest of roots will provide shelter for fish and ideal feeding grounds, improving fish stocks.

The new reed beds will create approximately around 1,000 square metres of habitat that as an ecosystem will improve water quality, support stronger fish stocks and provide haven for birds. Residents and visitors will experience an enhanced waterfront, with visible greenery and more contact with nature.

The micro-wilderness of submerged roots creates an ideal habitat for millions of microorganisms, which use algae, carbon and excess nutrients in the water as a food source, purifying the water.

Biomatrix floating ecosystems, showing how the ecosystem supports wildlife.

The project will enhance the success of five eco-spaces already created in the harbour, including Harbourside Reedbed at Hannover Quay, Millennium Promenade Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) and Bathurst Basin Reedbed.

The location for this and design is supported by evidence in the Biodiversity in Bristol’s Floating Harbour report (2022), the harbour Environmental DNA (eDNA) survey and Bristol ecological network mapping.

The construction uses materials carefully selected for recycled content and only non-toxic materials are used. Once grown, the system is typically 60% living biomass and 30% marine engineered materials. The proposed pontoon is steel framed, it uses polystyrene marine floats with a hardwood deck-board finish. The location on the water is shown on the image below and held in place with mooring cleats and sunken chains.

The pontoon will be connected to the existing bridgehead (formerly used by ferries), and accessible by a gated footway ramp to match the pontoons. There will be service pedestals and emergency cabinets (lifebuoy, fire extinguisher, etc) on the pontoon, and a floating washroom facility alongside the harbour wall.

Community involvement includes educational visits for local schools and citizen science projects using technology such as underwater cameras.

We are writing to local residents to make them aware of the planning submission and provide more information about the plans.

Temple Quarter regeneration project picks up steam

We are seeing really exciting progress on one of Bristol’s most important regeneration areas, with plans to bring the historic train station at its heart into the 21st century.

When I last wrote about the Temple Quarter regeneration project back in June, I said the £95m of government funding the project had received would “kickstart” it after nearly a decade of preparation and planning. Now work is been happening at pace to deliver the first phase of the project, including new entrances at Temple Meads station, infrastructure and public realm improvements around the station.

The new Eastern Entrance will open into the University of Bristol’s Enterprise Campus, making the station more accessible, and will include welcoming public spaces for everyone to make use of and enjoy.

Combined with improvements to Station Approach and the surrounding areas, the project will create a world-class gateway to the West of England, set against the backdrop of Brunel’s historic Grade 1 listed station.

The concept image is of the new North Entrance, with people walking in and out of the station. With trees and buildings in the background.
How the North Entrance might look

My cabinet meeting this week will formally enter a collaboration agreement with the three Temple Quarter partners – Homes England, Network Rail and the West of England Combined Authority. While we’ve already been working together for some time, this agreement will formalise the relationship for the next phase as each partner takes on responsibility for different elements of delivery, working collectively towards the transformation of 130 hectares of central Bristol. New agreements will be put in place, enabling the council and Network Rail to receive and spend the funding given to the project by government, working through WECA, in June.

While this funding is for regenerating the areas in and around the station, we are also planning for the longer-term changes. Part of the agreement, and another benefit of the collaborative partnership approach, is that any income from land sales will be reinvested by the partners into later stages of the project in St Philip’s Marsh.

Because of our population growth, we know that many parts of Bristol will see a lot of change over the years to come. St Philip’s marsh will see even more than most, so it is important that we manage this dramatic change to get the best outcomes for existing residents and businesses.

A concept drawing of Temple Meads Midlands Shed View. the image shows the future Midlands Shed View with people walking through the station waiting areas.
Temple Meads Midlands Shed View

Works are soon to begin on Temple Island too. To enable new development here, brought forward by L&G and including homes, commercial space, and a much-needed conference centre for central Bristol, the council and its partners are preparing the site for development. You might have already seen workers dangling off the historic river wall to check its condition this summer. You can expect more activity on Temple Island in the coming weeks and months as the exciting plans begin to take shape.

Temple Quarter is one of the UK’s largest regeneration schemes, there is a lot to take in. Some changes will feel incremental, while others will be transformational in their scale and scope. As I wrote in my June blog, the size of our ambition at Temple Quarter highlights the importance of working in partnership with other public sector organisations, as well as continuing to work with the community to manage this transformational period of change to the benefit of as many people as possible.

We’ve been meeting community groups, business representatives and individuals to tell them more about the project and hear their early views on what we’re proposing. Temple Quarter is going to be a long process, with many smaller milestones along the way. We’ll be out there throughout, meeting with you, hearing your ideas, hopes and concerns, and bringing you all the latest news. We know the easiest way to understand something is to see it first-hand. We’re soon to start regular walking tours of the Temple Quarter sites. These will be open to all and will help to give a better idea of what change is proposed and where.

Sound interesting? You can sign up to hear more on the Temple Quarter website.

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone: two month countdown

There’s only two months to go until Bristol’s Clean Air Zone launches on 28 November.

The image has a blue background, a green van with a question mark sits in the bottom left of the picture. On the right of the image a calendar with text reads November, Monday 28. White text at the top of the image reads Two months to go... Are you ready for Bristol's Clean Air Zone? Bottom right of the image text reads Clean Air for Bristol. With the Bristol City Council logo.

This is an important step on our journey to cleaner air and creating a healthier future for everyone in Bristol. We need to reduce harmful pollution in the city and reach the legal limits set by government in the shortest time possible, but we also want to give those who need it, a bit more time to prepare. That could mean upgrading or changing a vehicle or trying out different and more sustainable ways to travel instead.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that today the online application portal for temporary exemptions is open.

It’s estimated that over 71% of vehicles on our roads are already compliant, so many of you will NOT need to make an application for a temporary exemption. Anyone who is still unsure if they will be affected should visit the government’s online vehicle checker in the first instance, to check if they will be charged to drive in the zone.

If you find your vehicle doesn’t meet the emissions standards, then you may be able to apply for a temporary exemption if:

  • you live within the Clean Air Zone
  • you work within the Zone and earn less than £26,000 per year
  • you meet one of the exemption criteria
  • and you need some extra time to replace or upgrade your vehicle

All the information, including the full list of exemption criteria, is available on the council’s website. These exemptions are being offered on a temporary basis, to give people a bit more time to prepare for the Clean Air Zone. I urge people to check the individual exemption pages on our website for information on when they end. If you need further support or have questions about your individual circumstance, please email cazsupport@bristol.gov.uk

If you run a business that operates more than one vehicle and are planning ahead to the launch of the Clean Air Zone, you might also want to check out the Business Accounts Feature which is now open. This allows you to set up a Bristol-specific Direct Debit to help you manage payment for vehicles entering and exiting the Zone. For more information, visit the Government website.

The photo shows Bristol's clean air zone signs. The grey sign has a circle emblem at the top, with a half green half white cloud with the letter D. Red text boxes below read Bristol Clean Air Zone, Coming soon, charges will apply. CleanAirForBristol.org, underneath is a white sign showing there are cameras nearby.

As well as offering temporary exemptions to give people more time to transition to cleaner vehicles, we have also secured over £5.9 million to help people to make their journeys more sustainable. Active travel not only helps to keep our air clean, but it can also help us to feel good and improve our mental wellbeing.

Our free active travel offer scheme offers people:

  • bike and e-bike trials for up to one month
  • adult cycle training to help build your confidence 
  • VOI eScooter credit 
  • train vouchers
  • taster bus tickets
  • enterprise car club credit
  • a free travel planning session to help you explore all your options for your regular journeys

We’ve already given out over 2,000 active travel offers to people in Bristol, and you can read about people’s experiences on our Clean Air For Bristol blog. It’s really great to see people already embracing new ways of travelling around our beautiful city and helping us to create a healthier city with cleaner air for all.

I know that the launch date is fast approaching, but I also want everyone to know that there’s still plenty of time to prepare and seek out extra support if you need it.

Bristol’s Clean Air Zone launches in 3 months

The photo shows Bristol's clean air zone signs. The grey sign has a circle emblem at the top, with a half green half white cloud with the letter D. Red text boxes below read Bristol Clean Air Zone, Coming soon, charges will apply. CleanAirForBristol.org, underneath is a white sign showing there are cameras nearby.

This week we have reached an important milestone: three months to go until the launch of Bristol’s Clean Air Zone on 28 November. Its introduction will be another big step forward on our journey to creating a healthier city with cleaner air for all.

We’ve sought to introduce Bristol’s Clean Air Zone in a way that protects the most deprived households in our city as well as our trades and businesses. That is why we’ve secured over £42 million to support the switch to cleaner vehicles, alongside wider support with the national cost of living crisis.

I also know that many people will need more time to prepare for the zone which is why we’re offering temporary exemptions to help make this change easier. I’m pleased to announce that the government have agreed to our request to extend the temporary exemption period until the end of March 2023. Applications for exemptions will open in late September.

We’re helping Bristol’s businesses and residents prepare for the zone with our financial support schemes. Almost three-quarters of drivers won’t be charged because their vehicles already meet emissions standards, and many businesses have already upgraded their fleets to cleaner vehicles.

Grants and interest free loans are currently on offer to help you upgrade to a vehicle that won’t be charged in the zone. This doesn’t have to be a brand new or electric vehicle – it can be second hand as long as it meets the zone’s emissions standards.

If you are impacted, there is still time to apply for financial support. I would urge anyone affected to get in touch with our team today to find out how we can help you. You can find out more about financial support on our website.

As well as transitioning to cleaner vehicles, we want to encourage Bristol residents to switch to more sustainable modes of travel. We’ve secured over £5.9 million of support to help make this a reality.

Our free travel offers include bike and e-bike trials, cycle training, VOI e-Scooter credit, bus tickets, and planning sessions with travel experts to help people explore all their options for their regular journeys. These offers are a great opportunity for people in Bristol to try out new ways of travelling that are better for their health, wellbeing, and the environment too. Anyone who lives or works in Bristol is eligible to receive the free offers and can apply on our website now.

If you haven’t already, check whether your vehicle will be charged and visit the council website to find out how we can help you upgrade your vehicle or try a different way of travelling.

We know that Clean Air Zones are successful at tackling air pollution. One year after launching their zone, our neighbours in Bath have seen nitrogen dioxide concentrations reduced by 21 per cent inside the zone and a 22 per cent reduction in the urban area outside the zone. Bristol is introducing the same class of Clean Air Zone as Birmingham. In one year, nitrogen dioxide levels within their zone have dropped by an average of 13% compared to pre-covid levels.

Marvin Rees, the elected Mayor of Bristol, standing on College Green, Bristol.

Mass transit: Bristol’s underground studies

The mass transit plan, including going underground, is Bristol and our wider region’s only real option for a future transport system that works. Bristol has been left behind on transport while all other big British cities have built and modernised mass transit: our city has delivered nothing in recent decades. 

Those of us old enough can remember the endless announcements for tram lines, the announcements of transport systems of the future, and political promises that offered 21st century travel options. The reality is nothing was delivered and Bristol commuters continue to crawl. 

We have made real progress since first announcing our aspirational plans, and remain unapologetic about our ambition for Bristol. There is no time to fail and no time to delay.

Today, ahead of the Strategic Outline Business Case and a West of England Combined Authority consultation on options, we’re publishing the executive summaries of two major studies into the potential of mass transit for our city and region. The next stop on our journey to mass transit follows on from us securing further funding in February for more studies to continue building the detailed case for mass transit in Bristol.

The first study, by CH2M and Steer Davies Gleave, agreed that the idea was worth pursuing. It said that an underground system moving around 3,000 passengers per hour per direction would be deliverable. For a growing city of 472,000 people, with 1 million people here during the work and school day, this is not at all a big ask. We should rise to the scale of the challenges we face, not limit ourselves with the failed thinking of previous administrations.

The second study, by Jacobs and Steer, said that an underground is a reasonable prospect, which could deliver value for money and “transformational” economic benefits for the city and region. It emphasised that an underground, unlike un-deliverable above-ground trams which councillors forewent in the early 2000s, would avoid the disruption and destruction of having to knock down one side of buildings along key yet narrow arterial routes like Church Road or Gloucester Road.

These expert studies demonstrate that delivering an underground transport system for Bristol isn’t some grand design. It’s us punching at, not above, our weight, in line with Newcastle, Liverpool, and Glasgow. We’re a core city, and a global city, not a village. We need a modern, low carbon transport system, yesterday.

159 years after London opened the world’s first underground, they’re still expanding its network through the £19 billion Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) across the capital. It’s more than time for Bristol and the West to get our fair share too.

We are part of the combined authority and are working with Metro Mayor Dan Norris and his team, as well as the leaders of South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset to deliver a genuine transformation of our transport.

We must keep this project on the rails and finally transform the way we travel in and around our city.

Mead Street development brief endorsed by Cabinet

It’s an exciting time for the Temple Quarter regeneration project. In June, the project received nearly £95 million to kickstart the first phase of delivery in the areas around Temple Meads station. As I wrote at the time, the proposed transformation of the area represents a new phase for Brunel’s historic station and its surrounds and is the culmination of years of hard work from the council and our partners Homes England, Network Rail and the West of England Combined Authority.

Since then, we’ve continued to engage with the community, businesses and stakeholders. We’ve also hosted visits from Bristol’s MPs, as well as civil servants from the Department for Levelling Up and the Treasury, reflecting the importance of the project in delivering new homes and jobs for the city region in the eyes of government.

From 20 May to 4 July, we ran a consultation on a development brief for Mead Street that set out guiding principles for change in the area. Mead Street is one of the six distinct areas that make up the Temple Quarter and St Philip’s Marsh regeneration area, located just south of the Bath Bridges roundabout between St Luke’s Road and the Bath Road. This week, I’m pleased to say that my Cabinet colleagues endorsed the document, and it will now help to guide the process of considering planning applications in the area.

We produced the Mead Street development brief ahead of a wider development framework for the whole of Temple Quarter because most of the land at Mead Street is owned by private landowners who have brought forward proposals for new development. By creating an overarching document that sets out principles for change, our aim is to ensure that change in Mead St happens coherently, creating a vibrant new community with good, joined-up infrastructure and public spaces, rather than as a series of disconnected development sites.

Concept Masterplan of the Mead Street development. On the right of centre of the image is a map of the Temple Quarter regeneration area with keys and shading to display the 6 distinct areas that make up Temple Quarter and St Philips Marsh. On the left of the image text read, The opportunities and concepts were brought together with special requirements to create a concept masterplan which summarises the key strategies including, routes, development plots, heights, land uses and public real. Underneath is a key explaining the plans for the area, number one indicative location of central public open green space, two indicative location of children's play space, three proposed Southern Gateway, four Safeguarding public transport routes, five proposed pedestrian and cycle route connecting to Whitehouse street Regeneration area, 6 new pedestrian connection, seven Ecological corridor along railway, 8 fowlers of Bristol (to be retained) included in case of future redevelopment), nine potential community space (Indicative location only).
Concept masterplan of Temple Quarter and St Philip’s Marsh regeneration area

Overall, the principles in the brief were welcomed by respondents to the consultation, with over 50% of people either strongly agreeing or agreeing to the four principles set out. Drilling down into the data, some of the highest levels of support were for the creation of new community space (84%), safe and inclusive streets (86%), integrating green space (89%) and creating a new public open space at the heart of the neighbourhood (87%).  It’s great to see positive reaction to these proposals, which reflect our commitment to safeguarding space for sustainable travel and public spaces as we plan for the homes we need to tackle Bristol’s housing crisis.

We also know how important employment space is at Mead Street, and the area is currently home to a mix of successful businesses. The survey results show us that Bristolians agree – 70% of respondents strongly agreed/agreed that existing tenants should be retained and re-provided for where possible and compatible with the regeneration of the area. 80% strongly agreed/agreed with the aim to mix homes and jobs to create a genuinely mixed neighbourhood. Finding this balance is important, and we’re committed to working with partners to ensure employment space of the kind already in the area is protected, as our work with the C40 Cities initiative nearby at Whitehouse Street demonstrates.

We did receive comments about the potential height and density of any new buildings in the area. The height of any new buildings will be determined through the planning process by whichever independent, cross-party development committee the decision falls to. However, geographically, Bristol isn’t getting any bigger, but its population is growing at speed. We have to deliver new homes, but we also need to protect greenspaces around the city and meet our commitments to the climate and ecological emergencies. That means building new homes in the right places more densely than we have done before.

Mead Street is an ideal location for new homes, potentially as many as 1500. It is previously developed land, close to the city region’s major train station and within walking or cycling distance of the city centre and local amenities. To create that number of homes, alongside the improvements to infrastructure and public spaces the consultation respondents want, means that, yes, new buildings at Mead Street are likely to be taller and denser than what is currently there.

Bristol Temple Quatre tweet about Cabinet’s endorsement

I have reflected previously on the competing demands we face as a city if we are to deliver the new homes we need. As I said then, cities are complicated and demand constructive debate. We will continue to engage with local people as plans for Mead Street, and the wider Temple Quarter area, progress as we work to deliver the new homes, jobs and public spaces that our city deserves.

You can read more about the Temple Quarter project and find the Mead Street development brief at BristolTempleQuarter.com.

£95 million for Temple Meads & Temple Quarter

Bristol Temple Meads station main entrance is pictured in black and white, against a light blue background. White texts sits to its left, reading: “£95m for Temple Meads & Temple Quarter”, with the Mayor of Bristol’s logo below.

Waiting for your train to arrive is something all too familiar to many of us. Waiting for the money to reinvigorate Bristol Temple Meads and Temple Quarter, and kickstart the development of the surrounding area, is something all of Bristol has been eagerly waiting on for more than a decade.

I remember the first Temple Quarter Strategic Board meeting way back in September 2017, where I, along with colleagues from Network Rail, Bristol University, the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) and the West of England Combined Authority met to outline our vision for Bristol, its relationship with Temple Meads and the potential to create a world class gateway to the city and region.

Plans outline the key projects for the transformation of the Temple Meads gateway. Marked, clockwise: The Friary – new bus interchange area and enhanced streetscape; Midland Shed and Northern Entrances – improved passenger facilities including shops; Friary North – mixed use development incorporating public space and cycling facilities; Temple Meads – investment in railway station including increased capacity and enhanced platform access, making Temple Meads the hub of MetroWest and regional mass transit; Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus – University of Bristol campus due for completion in 2023/24; Temple Island – residential, business and commercial development plus hotel and conference centre; Eastern Entrance – proposed new railway station entrance; Southern Gateway – new station entrance with cycle hub and level access to platforms (subject to funding); Station Square – significant public space framing the historic clock tower and main railway station entrance; Mead Street – residential development including new public open space and cycle link; Temple Gate – residential, business and commercial development; Goods yard – new public space with retail and hospitality

It’s thanks to the success of this partnership and the hard work of all those involved from the beginning, who have represented Bristol at the highest level and presented a clear vision for the city and Temple Quarter, that we are now at this exciting moment where I am delighted to say that the long-anticipated £94.7 million investment from government in Bristol has arrived, as announced today by Neil O’Brien MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, on his visit to Bristol.

This will represent a new phase for Brunel’s historic station. Opened in 1840, and expanded in the 1870s and 1930s, Bristol Temple Meads is set to double its capacity to 22 million passengers per year. It will support three new or significantly improved station entrances planned to the north, south, and east of Temple Meads and crucially, a new public transport interchange on the Friary on the northern side of the station, becoming a new transport hub with easy connections for pedestrians, cycling and the bus network.

Plans show Temple Meads' new northern entrance, left, with passengers in the centre, and trees to the right.
Plans for Temple Meads’ new northern entrance

Although we are improving suburban rail in Bristol, with the first new station in almost a century, we know that these other public transport connections are essential to link everyone with the jobs and homes at this transport interchange. This will improve connectivity for people across the city region and reduce carbon emissions, particularly as we bring forward the mass transit system Bristol needs to manage this growth in the most sustainable way.

Importantly, it will further unlock the area around Bristol Temple Meads as a new residential quarter, with up to 22,000 new jobs and 10,000 new homes in 130 hectares (equivalent to about 182 football pitches) in a sustainable location. The first phase alone looks to build 2,500 homes and provide at least two thousand jobs. This combines with the investment the University of Bristol are making in the area, with its Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus programme, and the council’s plans with Legal & General to invest in the mixed-use site at Temple Island, with a conference centre, new affordable homes, and retail space. 

Plans are already underway in Temple Quarter, with a development brief for Mead St, part of Temple Quarter which could provide 1500 new homes and 500 jobs, out to public consultation. You can read the proposals for Mead St and complete the survey online by 4 July.

The Government’s own Levelling Up agenda emphasises that “Mayors have already shown how strong local leadership can enhance economic and other opportunities in urban areas”. By unlocking homes and public service infrastructure, Temple Quarter exemplifies this vision, transforming a vast area of Bristol into a thriving, new urban quarter which will contribute an estimate £1.6 billion annual boost to the local economy.

This long-awaited green light can help support our recovery from the pandemic and lay the foundations for Bristol for the next century; a city which has a world class transport network, quality, affordable homes and accessible jobs at the heart of the city. We will continue to work with partners, businesses and communities already in the area to manage this huge change in a way that will benefit as many people as possible. It is great to finally get this development in train.

Plans show the elements of Bristol's transformation plan for the Temple Meads gateway. The column of images to the right are captioned as follows (top to bottom). Northern Entrance illustration before development of the Friary and Goods Yard (1); Midland Shed pedestrian concourse (3); Southern Gateway (6); Goods Yard public space (12). Captions beneath the main image read as follows. Station and station access: 1. Northern Entrances | Enhanced entrances including new public route through Midland Shed; 2. Eastern Entrance | New entrance; 3. Midland Shed  New retail and ticket office facilities; 4. Proposed access | New access to platforms; 5. Temple Meads Roof | Renovation of historic structure has commenced, funded by Network Rail settlement and Station remodelling | increase rail and platform capacity. Transport interchanges: 6. Southern Gateway | New multi-storey car park, pick-up drop off area, disabled parking, taxi access and step free route to station entrance; 7. Eastern Gateway | New pick-up drop off area and cycle access; 8. The Friary | New bus interchange area and traffic free cycle route; 9. Cycle Hub | New enclosed cycle parking; 10. Station Approach | Reconfigured vehicle access, taxi rank cabs, and blue badge parking. Improved public spaces: 11. Station Square | New public square framing the station’s historic clock tower; 12. Goods Yard and Friary North | New pedestrian spaces enhancing routes into the station; 13. Enterprise Campus public space | Created as part of University of Bristol development; 14. Brunel Mile | Extension of route that connects to Bristol centre. A key indicates sites marked in pink are proposed development sites, and that a number of these projects are subject to funding approval.
Wider plans for the area around Temple Meads