Category Archives: Economy

Your Holiday Hub reopens for winter

Young people and parents attend a pond, with an allotment in the background. This is at Your Holiday Hub's activities club.

Lots of children and young people look forward to this time of year, two weeks off school, Christmas decorations, presents and festive food. However, the winter holidays can also be a very challenging time for many families in Bristol. This year is especially difficult due to the added financial pressures that come with the current cost of living crisis. Our children and young people are often the most affected when it comes to crises such as this.

I am invested in supporting and inspiring young people in ways that helps relieve some of these added pressures. Now, well into its second year the Your Holiday Hub programme, funded by the UK Government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, will be returning to offer eligible children and young people access to free holiday activities and food this winter holiday.

Children and young people aged 4 to 16 years old, who are eligible, and in-receipt of free school meals will be able to access free holiday activities and food during the school holiday (19 December to 30 December). Activities this winter range from festive arts and crafts, cooking workshops and Ninja Warrior. During the sessions, young people are encouraged to learn new skills, forge new friendships and have fun in the meantime.

A young girl, smiling, holding a paint brush. This is at Your Holiday Hub's activities club.

At the heart of the Your Holiday Hub programme is food. Food should be a source of connection, and comfort. However, for many families who are struggling to afford to pay the bills, food can become a source of stress. Bristol has been working towards child equality over the school holidays since 2019 with the Bristol partnership The Healthy Holidays programme, led by Feeding Bristol and FareShare, which sought to create a city where no child goes hungry during the school holidays. As part of the Your Holiday Hub offering, with each four-hour activity, children and young people will receive a hot meal as well as learn about food, nutrition and healthy living through interactive workshops and classes.

Eligible families will also receive free school meal vouchers for the full winter holiday. These vouchers will be distributed through the schools.

Huge thanks go out to all the wonderful organisations across Bristol who organise holiday activities and food delivery for the Your Holiday Hub programme.

A full list of organisations and activities is available on the Your Holiday Hub website.  

We want your thoughts on the Council’s budget

Councillor Craig Cheney stands, smiling, with the trees of College Green behind him.
Today’s blog is from Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy
Mayor for Finance, Governance, and Performance

Like many organisations, Bristol City Council has a cost of operating crisis, which will affect our ability to carry out all the activities we want to and may affect our ability to provide the services we want.

Over the next five years we must find a mix of additional income and cost savings between £37.5 million and £87.6 million, which equates to 9% to 20% of the council’s core budget. As part of our consultation on the annual budget which launches tomorrow (Friday 11 November), we’ll set our proposals for reducing costs and generating further income that amount to £46 million over the coming five years. With still some way to go to balance the worst-case five-year budget gap, further difficult decisions may be required in February 2023 and beyond to bridge the estimated £41 million gap remaining.

We’re not alone. The Local Government Association have estimated £3.4 billion in additional costs for councils in 2023/24, rising to £4.5 billion in 2024/25. Nine in ten councils nationally expect budget shortfalls next year and we’re no different.

How did we get here? This is a crisis that’s been over a decade in the making, with many years of austerity slashing council funding, with government support failing to keep pace with increasing costs and demand. In February this year, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities approved its plans for funding local government for the following three years. It was a plan that meant councils would get an upfront amount of money to fund themselves for the period of the plan, based on the financial circumstances of the time. This was a plan that local government leaders agreed would result in real terms cuts for services and would result in financial difficulties for councils in years two and three.

Since the council passed its current budget and five-year outlook in March 2022, there have been significant changes on a national and global stage that are having a direct impact on the authority’s financial forecasts. Inflation in the UK has risen sharply in recent months, climbing above 10% in September this year, pushing up the price of goods, services and energy for everyone in the country. Global events, such as the invasion of Ukraine, are also having an effect on international markets which impact directly on the cost of living. These current issues add pressure onto a local government system that is already struggling under the pressure.

This consultation will set out the full scale of the challenge we face. It makes for uncomfortable reading in places but must be read by also recognising that our proposals are to ensure the budget is balanced and the finances exist to fund the vital work we’re doing. If we are to continue to meet our statutory obligations including providing housing, delivering care for the elderly and disabled, creating school places, and helping people through the cost-of-living crisis, we are going to have to be prepared to let go of some of the things we’ve fought hard to protect over the past six years.

Residents and businesses have the opportunity to share their view on this journey now and will also be asked for input during future consultations on some proposals that have yet to be fully worked up. I urge everyone to take part in this conversation to help inform our approach and the decision that needs to be taken in February next year.

Once live it will be available here: https://www.ask.bristol.gov.uk/budget-2023-24

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 

New changes to outdoor hospitality

Expanded outdoor hospitality has been a welcome addition across Bristol in response to the pandemic. It has supported local businesses and added more colour, vibrancy, and atmosphere to the streets. Many of us have enjoyed a meal or drink while sitting out in the city over the past couple of years. However, there are a number of national changes to how businesses can operate outdoors as we move beyond the pandemic.

Hospitality and the broader night time economy support the employment of a third of our workforce – more than 91,000 people. During the pandemic, there was an incredible response from the hospitality sector to adapt to changes, particularly those around outside dining, and our council rightly took a flexible approach to help support this.

We were able to do this because of legislation that was introduced by government which allowed councils to use temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) to support outdoor hospitality, permitting structures and furniture to be set up in parking bays. Disappointingly, the government chose not to renew this legislation and it has now expired. Outdoor hospitality can still be facilitated but permissions will now need to be sought.

We understand how frustrating this is for many businesses, particularly at a time when the sector is being hit hard by inflation alongside the wider impact of the cost of living crisis. We want to support businesses to continue to operate outdoors where we can, and we want to ensure businesses are clear on what they need to do next.

On streets that have been pedestrianised or are covered by traffic orders — such as Princess Victoria Street, the Old City, Cotham Hill, and King Street — businesses with existing outside structures should apply for retrospective planning permission. If granted, then they can then apply for a structures licence and pavement licence to place furniture on the highway outside their premises. In these areas, any existing structures can remain while going through this process and no enforcement action will be taken during that time.

On all other streets, structures and furniture must be removed. Planning permission can still be applied for but we cannot legally allow existing structures to remain in the interim due to the change in national legislation set out above.

We support reclaiming road space for people, where we can. By making the policies around this more robust, we can ensure outdoor hospitality structures add value and are suitable for their surroundings, and that any structures or furniture in the road are safe and don’t impact accessibility.

Getting the relevant permissions can be a complex process as this may require approval from up to three separate regimes: Planning, Highways (for structures and pavement licences), and Licensing (for alcohol licenses). Communication with businesses has sought to set this out as simply as possible, but I recognise how confusing this can be for business owners who have so many other concerns, which is why we will be producing an overarching guidance document that explains the process clearly.

Thank you again to Bristol’s businesses for working with us on this. I encourage anyone who is unclear about what this means for them to get in touch with our business team by emailing business@bristol.gov.uk

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.

Volunteer with Can Do Bristol

Ellie King smiling on the City Hall Ramp
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Ellie King,
Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, and a Labour Councillor for Hillfields ward.

We are facing a challenging autumn and winter. The rising cost of living is affecting a huge number of people in our city, as the prices of energy, food and other essentials continue to increase. We are launching this callout to ask for volunteers to come forward to be part of Bristol’s shared response to this crisis. 

Bristol’s volunteer response during the pandemic was inspiring and demonstrated the can-do attitude of our residents. Bristolians came together to help their communities. We learned that volunteering is crucial when it comes to building the strong, community-led support that’s needed at a local and city-wide level. We would love to see the same happen again now as we face a different, but equally important challenge.

The council is taking a One City and community-led approach to the cost of living crisis. The aim is to support residents and community organisations across Bristol to take action in their neighbourhoods to make a difference where it matters most. This will continue to bring our communities together, build relationships and strengthen our neighbourhoods. 

Communities rely on volunteers and the goodwill of people to get us through situations like these. You can get involved by volunteering with a local organisation to help them respond to the needs of the community.

Everyone has something to offer, whether it’s your time, your talents, or your enthusiasm to do something positive. There are a huge range of volunteering opportunities available on the Can Do Bristol website, including providing essential advice to residents, cooking and serving food, general admin support or even helping at one of our welcoming spaces. You can find a full list of opportunities on Can Do Bristol’s website.  

Volunteering is an incredibly rewarding experience and is great for our health and wellbeing. Not only are you meeting new people, learning new skills, and gaining different experiences you are contributing to community life and building a better city for us all to live in.

Remember, you don’t have to be a registered volunteer to help in your community. Small actions like checking on neighbours can make a big difference. Consider offering them a lift to the shop, cooking them a meal, asking them if they need anything from the shop, offering a lift, or seeing if they would like some company. If you can, you could also donate to local charities or a foodbank, who are always looking for kind donations to continue supporting others.

If you are part of a community organisation in the city and need volunteers to help you reach your local residents and neighbourhood, you can post a volunteering opportunity on the Can Do Bristol website for volunteers to sign up to. 

If you need advice or guidance for yourself or someone you support, we have also launched a cost of living support hub online, providing guidance on topics such as housing, bills, benefits, employment and skills and mental health and wellbeing. Please share this webpage with others and encourage anyone who needs support to reach out.  

Together, We Are Bristol.

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.

Investing in our high streets

A phot of Councillor Craig Cheney, smiling in the foreground, wearing a black suit with a dark red tie. He stands in front of a white background.
Today’s blog is by Deputy Mayor Craig Cheney,
Cabinet Member for City Economy, Finance and Performance and Labour Councillor for Hillfields

It’s been heartening to see more buzz and excitement return throughout Bristol this summer, with a variety of events and activities bringing Bristolians and visitors together in the city.

The £4.725 million funding secured last year is now helping Bristol’s high streets and our city centre recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the city starting to experience the benefits.

We have made a wide range of grants available to support local organisations in running events and activities and to bring a diverse range of traders to our local high streets and Bristol city centre.

The investment is focussed to increase the number of people visiting our high streets and city centre, as well as the amount of time they are spending there. Ultimately we hope to see more people shopping locally which will build stronger and more resilient independent businesses that are supported by their own communities.

The recent St Nick’s Night Markets; the Old City tour by Little Amal, the 3.5m tall puppet of a young Syrian refugee child; and most recently the Luminarium on College Green significantly boosted visitor numbers, supporting local businesses and the economy. All of these events were supported through the first round of our City Centre Culture and Events Grants.

Further free-to-attend events funded through the programme are planned for August. Overstory, the summer art installation from leading contemporary artists Ivan Morison and Heather Peak, will take root in Broadmead from 19 to 30 August. The event is our city centre’s first headline cultural project commission for 2022/23, awarded to The Natural History Consortium, the charity behind the city’s Festival of Nature. Hanging high above Broadmead in two locations, the artwork will temporarily transform Broadmead, with visitors invited to enjoy the installation alongside a programme of engaging, fun and free activities involving art and nature.

On the third Sunday of the month we’ll welcome the return of the Better Sundays at Broadmead market. Taking place on Sunday 21 August from 10am to 5pm, the market will include workshops, entertainment and activities for all ages, and an exciting mix of market stalls offering local, sustainable and ethical food and goods.

There are still opportunities to apply for funding. We are inviting expressions of interest from organisations with experience of working with the community and other stakeholders through our Priority High Streets Culture and Events Grant, to co-design and deliver culture and events activity to help to bring residents together, and attract and welcome visitors to our high streets, is open to applications until 22 August.

The second round of the City Centre Culture and Events Grants scheme is also open to applications from Bristol based organisations looking to run events or cultural activities across four locations in the city centre: Old City, King Street, Park Street and Queen’s Road, and Broadmead.

Since the launch of the Vacant Commercial Property Grant Scheme, 31 grants have been approved, directly supporting businesses in the retail, hospitality, creative and digital, hair and beauty, health and fitness, property and education sectors. Funding of £2,500 to £10,000 is still available through this grant to bring vacant commercial properties back into permanent or temporary use.

We also have a team of Business Development Officers that regularly visit business on all high streets across the city, to provide the latest information and business support available via the council and partner organisations.

I also recommend that all businesses sign up to the council’s weekly business newsletter to get the latest news, grants and funding opportunities, business support, training and networking opportunities: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/businessnewsletter

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.