Category Archives: Homes and Communities

Bristol Light Festival is back!

Vicky Lee, smiling, in front of Bristol harbour.
Today’s guest blog is from Vicky Lee, Head of Bristol City Centre BID
(Business Improvement District)

Now in our third year, Bristol Light Festival will illuminate the city centre with stunning, interactive, and captivating light installations, creating a trail through the centre of Bristol from this Friday, 3 February, until next Sunday, 12 February.

Bringing more light, fun and colour to the city centre will brighten up the winter evenings. Visitors can explore eleven light installations as they come to life between 5pm till 10pm, enjoying the city’s food, drink and hospitality offerings along the way. Presented by Bristol City Centre BID, this year’s festival will have something for everyone: the perfect winter pick-me-up that is sure to delight.

We want to bring a sense of fun, togetherness, and joy to the city across the late winter period, encouraging visitors to explore Bristol at night and enjoy the centre’s rich selection of night-time economy businesses.

Two children looking at each other, laughing, at the The Trumpet Flowers light installation in Sydney in 2019. This installation will be coming to Bristol Lights Festival 2023.
The Trumpet Flowers light installation in Sydney in 2019. It will be coming to the upcoming Bristol Light Festival.

Bristol Light Festival demonstrates the importance of free-to-attend events in supporting city centre businesses and attracting people to spend leisure time in the city during the quieter months. This was evident in 2022 with £3.4 million additional revenue in local businesses reported across the event, providing an economic boost for businesses when they need it most.

Each year we work with key partners and organisations, and this year our partner support has enabled the event to grow and offer even more. We have newly commissioned artworks, exciting new locations to discover and a longer ten day event, making it a real city-wide event.

The 2023 programme, curated by our Creative Director Katherine Jewkes, is bringing some exciting artworks to the festival from internationally acclaimed artists and the best of south west talent, most of which have never been seen in Bristol. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Bristol Light Festival to enjoy the city centre and all that it has to offer. The event embodies everything that Bristol represents and showcases it as the vibrant, playful and creative city that we know and love.

Bristol Light Festival is presented by Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District (BID), supported by Redcliffe & Temple BID, Broadmead BID, and Cabot Circus. The festival is also supported by Bristol’s City Centre & High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme, which is funded by Bristol City Council and the West of England’s Combined Authority’s Love our High Streets project, with the aim of supporting the recovery of Bristol’s priority high streets.

For more information, a map of the installations and locations, and updates about the event, please visit www.bristollightfestival.org and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and using the hashtag #BristolLightFestival

Supporting people with No Recourse to Public Funds

Councillor Tom Renhard, smiling, on College Green.
Today’s guest blog is from Councillor
Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member
for Housing Delivery and Homes

In the Autumn, I had the pleasure of chairing a meeting of organisations working across Bristol to support people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). NRPF status means that people don’t have access to a wide range of social security benefits and payments, including Universal Credit and Housing Benefit.

It affects a huge range of over 1 million people in the UK, including those seeking asylum, EU citizens, recent arrivals from Hong Kong, and young professionals here on a spousal or family visa. For these different groups, having NRPF status means that when things go wrong – maybe an illness or losing their job – they don’t have access to the welfare safety net that the rest of us have access to. As a result, many people with NRPF, along with their children and families, can face homelessness and destitution through no fault of their own. 

Stills from the Bristol Refugee Rights video of lived experiences of NRPF. A cartoon of a young person playing with toys.
Stills from the Bristol Refugee Rights video of lived experiences of NRPF

Local Authorities receive no dedicated funding from central Government to support those with NRPF. During Covid, the Everyone In policy did briefly give us the chance to offer housing to everyone who needed it in the city. Knowing that this wouldn’t last forever, we set up a One City Task Force to bring together the skills and resources of Bristol City Council, the Homelessness sector and the Refugee sector to take a longer-term view. Through this collaboration we were able to help more than 75 people with NRPF successfully move on from the Everyone In accommodation rather than heading straight back to the streets, cutting rough sleeping by around 80%. 

From this success, an idea was born: the Bristol Model of NRPF support. It’s a holistic and collaborative framework for bringing together services and support based on four key principles – design out destitution, informed and supported, included and involved and a safe place to stay. It builds on the insight and premise that when people have their basic needs catered for, they can then make progress in escaping NRPF-enforced destitution, either by finding new work or by changing their legal status. It also works on the principle that no single organisation or sector in the city can effectively support those with NRPF on their own.

At the meeting, we heard from several organisations about their experiences of working with the Bristol Model. Bristol Refugee Rights and the Big Issue have both worked hard to make sure that people’s lived experiences of NRPF are at the centre of these conversations, and we watched a powerful film that captures the crippling insecurity and hopelessness that NRPF can cause. 

We also heard about how people have creatively found resources to help make the Bristol Model a reality. At the council we’re proud to have put the Model at the heart of our efforts to tackle rough sleeping, including our successful bid for funding from the Rough Sleeping Initiative over the next three years. This will secure some bed spaces for those with NRPF, caseworker capacity, access to legal advice from Bristol Law Centre and a specialist sub-group of our Rough Sleeping Partnership.

There is plenty more to do on this issue, and nobody is resting on any laurels. But we are confident that the Bristol Model gives us the right framework, one that is rooted in lived experience and consistent with the One City Approach. This work sits alongside efforts to tackle Bristol’s housing crisis through building enough new homes for our city and lobbying for required changes in legislation.

We are also truly humbled and grateful that, despite the unjust and often inhumane approach of the National Government on this, we live in a City of Sanctuary full of people and organisations willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone has the chance to build a life of dignity and purpose here in Bristol.  

Ayham, a Bristol school pupil, is pictured holding a letter that they addressed to the Home Secretary.
The Mayor recently received a copy of a letter on
a related topic from Ayham, a Bristol school pupil,
addressed to the Home Secretary.

A ground-breaking new facility for Bristol Children’s Hospital

Mayor Marvin Rees (left) and Nicola Masters (right), smiling in front of Bristol Children's Hospital
Today’s guest blog is from Nicola Masters (right),
Director and Co-founder of The Grand Appeal.

The Grand Appeal is the dedicated charity for Bristol Children’s Hospital. As part of our commitment to ensuring the hospital remains at the forefront of children’s healthcare, we are creating a pioneering facility that will be the first of its kind in the UK.

Jingle Jam Building will offer accommodation and treatment facilities all under one roof.

Over 100,000 children from the South West and South Wales visit Bristol Children’s Hospital every year. Imagine arriving in Bristol, an unfamiliar city, with nowhere to go while your child needs life-saving care. With Bristol Children’s Hospital serving the whole city region and often further afield – the largest geographical area of any children’s hospital in England – this is the reality for many families that pass through its doors.

Some stay for days, but many stay for weeks or even months. Jingle Jam Building will mean these families can be together during the last steps of their child’s recovery before they return home.

This unique development will improve the care of young patients undergoing different treatments, such as

  • Children who need long-term rehabilitation and/or therapy after an accident or major surgery
  • Children who need rehabilitation after brain surgery or a brain injury
  • Children under the care of the Orthopaedic team who treat bone, joint, ligament, tendon, and muscle disorders
  • Children treated for chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Children working with hospital dietitians or who need specialist diets
  • Children who have cystic fibrosis
Artist impressions of the Jingle Jam building.
Artists impression of the Jingle Jam building.

It will also increase resource, and capacity and enhance the incredible work of the talented doctors, nurses, and staff at Bristol Children’s Hospital. The building is currently in the planning stage and will be based near the hospital.

This project is only possible thanks to the support of Jingle Jam. Jingle Jam is the brainchild of Bristol-based gaming company, The Yogscast. This epic event is the world’s biggest gaming charity fundraiser, which brings together the gaming community each December to raise millions for good causes, including The Grand Appeal. We’re proud to have worked in partnership with our fellow Bristolians at The Yogscast since 2017. 

A picture of the Cots for Tots House.

Founded in 1995, The Grand Appeal works in partnership with Bristol Children’s Hospital to run a multi-million-pound portfolio of investment.

It’s where babies, children, and young people with highly complex medical conditions – from rare genetic disorders, neurological conditions and congenital heart disease to traumatic injuries, cancer, and kidney disease – are all cared for around the clock. 

Just like Bristol, the hospital is a hub of innovation, where these experts create a brighter future for sick children every day through a vast network of research projects with international impact. So much so that Bristol Children’s Hospital has been recognised in the world’s top 14 children’s hospitals (Newsweek, 2021).

It’s thanks to The Grand Appeal’s partnership with the hospital and our friends at Aardman, that Bristol Children’s Hospital is a pioneer in so many fields today. That partnership is only made possible through fundraising – in all its fantastic forms – by people with one thing in common: the drive to change the lives of seriously ill children and their families. 

Nicola Masters (left) and Mayor Marvin Rees (right) stand, smiling, outside the BRI. A sign on the building says: Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Paul O'Gorman Building.

That vision that we all share has never been more critical. The incredible advancements in medicine that the last two decades have brought about mean that more and more children are living with increasingly complex conditions and will rely on hospital services throughout their lives. Our goal is not just that they survive; but that they thrive. 

Underpinned by economic uncertainty, children’s hospitals now rely on innovative technology, science and models of care – like Jingle Jam Building – and, of course, on the comprehensive support of charities like The Grand Appeal. 

Jingle Jam Building is just one of the ways we make your children’s hospital the very best it can be.

Creating sustainable communities through Intergenerational Housing

The left image shows Bianca Rosetti, smiling, with trees in the background. The right image shows Richard Pendlebury, smiling, sat down on a chair.
Today’s guest blog is co-written by Bianca Rosetti, former Age Friendly Lead – Age UK Bristol and Richard Pendlebury MBE DL, Chief Executive – Anchor Society CIO

Housing and care the big challenges

Like many countries, the UK is struggling with two key issues, care and support for older people and a lack of affordable housing. One of the consequences is the pricing out of young people from the housing market (rent and ownership). But the lack of affordable housing is affecting people of all ages, and it was reported recently that there has been a dramatic rise of over 50s having to resort to house sharing. Last year, Age UK reported that there were 2 million older people living in poverty in the UK and many more are likely to be added as we face the worst fuel crisis in modern times.

Commitment to those in need 

In Bristol, many organisations are committed to doing something to alleviate the serious challenges faced by older and young people alike each day. For example, The Anchor Society CIO provides grants for older people facing hardship for basic necessities (e.g. furniture, boilers, and white goods) and Age UK Bristol (AUKB) provides income maximisation support through its Information & Advice service, which brings an average of £2 million in unclaimed benefits and allowances to older Bristolians’ pockets each year. Supported by St Monica Trust, Bristol City Council, and the Anchor Society, AUKB also has a fund to help older people in fuel poverty.   

Innovative intergenerational housing

Short term financial aid in whatever form is essential, but are there longer-term solutions to meeting those in need. Housing costs as a proportion of income are at an all-time high, and a key driving factor of poverty. The Anchor Society, together with All Saints Church Lands Charity, visited an award-winning housing complex in Alicante before lockdown which provides affordable housing for young and old alike. This complex provides housing for over 80, with the young people providing support (befriending) for lower rent. The young people are largely key workers and the ones we met were social work students and young social workers. The support given to older people by their young neighbours means that they need never be lonely or struggling with day-to-day tasks. So, the issues of affordable housing and care are resolved in one project. It is a highly successful housing solution which we are seeking to emulate in Bristol.  

Key to the success of the project will be the creation of community; something that AUKB has been involved with for many years. As the lead partner for the city’s Age-friendly City strategy, AUKB has been working with organisations and departments across local government, the charity sector, businesses to improve services and spaces for older residents now and in the future. AUKB’s programme of social opportunities, including the Friends Ageing Better network and other regular events through its LinkAge service, support people to make social connections and make the most of the arts and culture our city has to offer.

A sketch of the New Fosseway Road development in Hengrove.

New Fosseway Road

In a similar fashion, Bristol City Council is committed to building sustainable communities. As the local authority, there is a duty to provide extra care housing under their Better Lives at Home Programme, alongside a shortage of housing that needs to be addressed.

Goram Homes, Bristol City Council’s housing company, secured planning approval in December for 190 new homes on New Fosseway Road, on the site of a former school in Hengrove. This multi-generational housing development addresses both core issues faced by the city. The plans encompass extra care housing alongside the delivery of new homes including more than 100 new affordable homes. These new homes will add to the 2,563 new homes built in 2021/22 in Bristol, including more affordable new homes than for any year in the last twelve.

By approaching community building in multi-pronged basis, they are able to build sustainable communities that will remain suitable to the changing needs and requirements of the local community.

Working in Partnership

We believe that none of us has all the solutions but that working together we can make a difference. Both The Anchor Society CIO and Age UK Bristol are involved in a number of alliances and partnerships across the city.  

Getting our Filwood Broadway bid over the line

Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes

Ellis Genge, named this week in Steve Borthwick’s first England Rugby squad, has been among the Knowle Westers to today welcome brilliant progress in investing in their area. Sometimes, you need to maul, scrum, kick, and ruck to get stuff done. Filwood Broadway is a perfect example of trying everything to get things over the line.

There’s been a game plan in place for the area for some time but, for one reason or another, the projects needed to bring the plan to life have not quite got going. Because of this stagnation and lack of progress, we took the decision to start laying the foundations needed to revitalise the area and, working as a team for this part of south Bristol, has got us on a path in 2023 that will see massive leaps forward over coming weeks and months.

What’s happening? What’s happened?

Let’s recap.

Back in April last year, Cabinet approved up to £300,000 of funding to go towards building  a new multi-use games area (MUGA) and providing investment towards new floodlights at Filwood Playing Fields.  During that same meeting I also approved over £400,000 to deliver new public spaces and improvements in the area. Around the same time the council also allocated £90,000 of COVID recovery funding to spend on the children’s play area within the Broadway. These investments have helped kick start the regeneration work and begin laying foundations for the future.

Fast forward to this week and there have been further developments that will move our plans forward significantly.

The big news this week is the major funding we’ve secured from government following a bid to the national Levelling Up Fund. The £14.5 million we’ve secured will go a long way towards bringing new homes to the area whilst introducing better quality public realm (£2.1 million), investment in community centre (£7.6 million), creating space for improvements to local library services (£3 million), new business and commercial space, new sporting facilities, and delivering a greener and more attractive environment. This will enable us to add to the 2,563 new homes which were built in Bristol last year, including more affordable new homes than for any year in the last twelve. The benefit to cost ratio of our successful Levelling Up bid will mean a positive impact worth more than £45 million for this part of south Bristol in local employment, social value, health benefits, and cultural amenity.

The announcement comes as another major step is taken on this path with the approval of plans to build 30 new homes on the site of the former Filwood cinema on the Broadway. The approval given by the council’s Development Control Committee yesterday (Wednesday 18 January 2023), means that we now have the green light to press ahead with bringing much needed social housing and also includes nearly 600 square metres of floorspace for shops.

In the next couple of weeks we will publish an updated plan for the area for the city’s Cabinet to consider and ask to proceed with delivering this exciting vision for Filwood and Knowle West.

Transforming the derelict former cinema site

Opening its doors in 1938, Filwood cinema was arguably Knowle West’s biggest attraction for many years. The cinema could pack over 1,000 people hosting films, concerts, and boxing matches. The cinema was designed by Dennis Hurford and F. G. W. Chamberlain and was built as part of the Filwood Broadway development.

In the 1950s, cinema attendance began to fall in the UK. From the 1960s the cinema began to hold bingo on Saturdays and was sold in the 1980s to become a full-time bingo hall. Eventually, in 1994, the building closed entirely, and some of the original seats and projectors can be seen in the M Shed

In 2023, nearly 30 years since the cinema building was last in use, new changes are planned on the old cinema site. The 20-year Knowle West Regeneration Framework, first published in 2012, has an ambition to develop and transform the Filwood Broadway area for the community – much like the original development plan back in the 1930s.

One of the most significant moments to happen this year will be the demolition of the old cinema. Planning permission to knock down the building was granted in 2019, after falling into a poor state of repair. Wring Group Ltd will carry out the demolition and have begun their site set up and preparation. The physical demolition is due to begin in February and be completed by early May. 

This demolition will pave the way for the new homes and retail space approved this week. Public feedback from two separate consultations on these plans carried out in December 2019 and January 2022 helped to shape the final approach. Feedback from the consultation last year was largely supportive for redeveloping the old cinema site and positive comments were received about how it will enhance the Broadway and local area.

The social homes will comprise of 17 flats and 13 houses including 10 one-bedroom homes, 11 two-bedroom homes, and nine three-bedroom homes. 100 per cent social housing will be delivered at the site, as scheme viability was achieved without the need to include affordable housing such as shared ownership.

There will be vehicle access from both Filwood Broadway and Barnstaple Road, along the new residential street. Pedestrian and cycle access will also be available from Hartcliffe Road. This will help to make sure that for local trips, walking and cycling become the most convenient option, and for trips further afield, public transport becomes a viable option. Public and private spaces will be clearly defined, accessible and safe.

The development will also be set up to utilise renewable energy. Each home will be connected to a communal ground source heat pump system and the commercial units will be served by air source heat pumps for both heating and domestic hot water.

The new development has been commissioned and funded by the council and will make sure that the land is best used – delivering much needed social rent homes whilst helping to reinvigorate the area and provide new services for the local community.

A number of developments are in the pipeline for Knowle West and Filwood in order to regenerate the area and better meet the needs of the city and local community. Find out more.

Building a better Bristol: 2,563 new homes

We agree with the sentiment of the petition presented to Full Council last night.

Councillor Nicola Beech, my cabinet lead for strategic planning, resilience, and floods, who spoke on the petition for the Labour Group at Full Council, launched a consultation on the Local Plan in November 2022. We continue to oppose plans to build homes on Brislington Meadows, the Western Slopes, and Yew Tree Farm, and policies out to consultation reflect our position while also including new policies on biodiversity. These sit alongside our plans to plant 16,000 new trees in Bristol this year, adding to the 80,000 trees planted in our city since 2015 (averaging to 10,500 per year), announced during National Tree Week.

The aforementioned sites were allocated for development under the previous administration, following public consultation – which is how planning policy is set. To influence future policy, far more than signing petitions, it is essential that people respond to share their views before Friday 20 January. More details are available in Nicola’s blog. Yesterday we launched a consultation on Temple Quarter, where we will work to deliver 10,000 new homes and 22,000 new jobs.

My administration has rightly made building new homes a priority for us, because it’s a priority for our fellow Bristolians. After the disruption of Brexit and the pandemic, last year Bristol built 2,563 new homes – exceeding our ambitious manifesto targets; 474 of these new homes were affordable – the most in the 12 years since Labour were last in national government; and 90% of these new homes were built on previously developed land – again demonstrating our commitment to building new homes in an environmentally responsible way. Another 3,500 new homes were under construction as of 1 April, 2022. This is fantastic news for Bristol as we continue building a city where nobody is left behind.

Our city is just 42 square miles. Our population grew by more than 10% in the decade to 2021, to 472,000, and is set to rise to 550,000 by the middle of this century. 15% of our residents – some 70,000 people – live in areas that are among the 10% most deprived in England. 19,000 people are on our housing waiting list. Over 1,000 households are living in temporary accommodation. In this context, we need to continue building in (on brownfield) and up (at higher density). Otherwise we risk being unable to minimise our sometime need to build out (onto land which has not previously been developed). Recently we have been disappointed that many of the councillors which this petition lauds, and some people already sitting comfortably in their own homes, have continued to oppose building new homes for Bristolians on brownfield sites including former car parks, former airfields, former shipyards, former schools, and former depots. Too often the crucial question, “if not there, then where?”, goes unanswered by them.

Unfortunately some single-issue campaigns often fall short of engaging with our city in the fullness of the reality of life here. We face a housing crisis, at the same time as ecological and climate emergencies, the national cost of living crisis, recovering from the pandemic, and other major pressures. There is no magic button to turn off any of these to focus on a favourite – they must all be considered and tackled at once. This is why we have prioritised an approach which delivers social and environmental justice hand-in-hand, using the UN’s interdependent Sustainable Development Goals as our framework. And we continue to shape global policy through Global Goals Week, COP27, and my TED Talk on cities and the climate crisis. You may be among the more than 1.5 million people who have watched the latter.

We are determined to start 2023 by continuing to deliver on what matters to Bristolians. My administration remains focused on carrying on tackling our city’s challenges and getting stuff done to give Bristol the best possible future. For more on our vision for our city, with new jobs, new homes, clean energy, new schools, and mass transit, watch Bristol 2032.

How Bristol is helping its citizens with the energy crisis  

Councillor Kye Dudd, smiling, with College Green in the background.
Today’s blog is by Councillor Kye Dudd, Cabinet
Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste, and Energy
and Labour Councillor for Southmead ward

As the national cost of living crisis continues into the New Year, many households across Bristol remain in financial difficulty. Our cost of living support site has a dedicated page signposting citizens in need of help with their energy bills. 

Across Bristol, charities and organisations are stepping up to support citizens in helping with bills and making their homes warmer and more energy efficient. 

Bristol Energy Network (BEN) will be attending the New Monday event at The Galleries in Broadmead on Monday 16 January, between 11am and 2pm, to offer guidance and advice to citizens looking to reduce their energy use and save money. There will also be a dedicated Energy drop-in morning at Easton Community Centre on Tuesday 24 January between 10am and 12pm. 

For people working or volunteering in their communities, BEN will be running free, online ‘Energy Help Desk’ training sessions. If you’re interested in attending, please contact coordinator@bristolenergynetwork.org for dates and times. 

Last month we shared a guest blog from the Centre for Sustainable Energy, who provide support to people experiencing fuel poverty, including advice for what to do if you can’t pay your bills, ideas for how to stay warm for less plus a useful tool that tells you how much electricity common appliances use: what uses watt?  

Older buildings across Bristol are less likely to be insulated, so a great way to make your home warmer is to draughtproof and insulate where possible. The Centre for Sustainable Energy have ideas for lower cost options with their DIY draughtproofing tips, and you can hear from Bristol resident Simon on how they made their home more warm and comfortable in his short film: 

Households aren’t the only ones struggling with rising energy costs; charities, community organisations, and small businesses in Bristol are also feeling the pinch. Bristol Climate Hub have tips for making your community building energy efficient and Bristol Green Capital Partnership have a guide to reducing emissions from energy for businesses.

Making our homes and premises more energy efficient will not only help households and organisations save money but will help reduce Bristol’s carbon emissions. 2022 was the hottest year since records began and many countries across the globe are reporting that this month is their hottest January. We’ve also seen more and more extreme weather events in recent years.  

Overuse of energy is a primary contributor to climate change, so by reducing energy use, we’re all helping Bristol reach its goal to be net zero by 2030. 

A heating engineer checking a boiler.

Our administration has secured the City Leap partnership, creating 1,000 new jobs and reducing 140,000 tonnes of emissions over its first five years. It will, amongst other things, deliver energy efficiency measures, renewables and decarbonisation projects to the council’s corporate estate reducing our emissions. As part of the project’s initial £424 million investment, energy efficiency and renewable energy measures will be delivered across the council’s social housing. You can find out what else the council are doing to reduce our own energy use on Our climate action on electricity and Our climate action on heat and buildings web pages. 

The council, however, is responsible for around 0.5% of the city’s emissions, meaning we need organisations and homes to play their part. Last year, we launched the Bristol Climate Ask, which encourages Bristol businesses and organisations to declare their ambition to work towards net zero, it’s great to see so many signing up and reporting that many of their measure are proving good for business. 

If you’re not effected by the cost-of-living crisis and would like to help those who are struggling, you can donate to the Share the Warmth appeal (Centre for Sustainable Energy), Bristol Emergency Winter Fuel Fund (Bristol Energy Network) or Donate to the Local Crisis Prevention Fund: Discretionary Giving

Temple Quarter: the end of the beginning

When I look back on Bristol’s big achievements in 2022, one that stands out as one of the biggest and most significant is, in June, securing almost £95 million from central government to kickstart the Temple Quarter regeneration programme.

Now, I’m writing my fourth blog on Temple Quarter in just over six months, celebrating yet another major milestone for the project. Today, we’ve launched a consultation on the Temple Quarter draft Development Framework. This document gives an outline for proposals for change across the 130 hectares of Temple Quarter and will help to guide change as it happens in the coming years.

There’s no denying that this is a detailed document. After all, it encapsulates the breadth of our vision and ambition for the world-class gateway to our city that Temple Quarter can become.

Temple Quarter Regeneration Character Area Map

To make the consultation easier to navigate, we’ve broken down the online hub into sections based on the six “character areas” at Temple Quarter. The scope of influence that public feedback will have varies from area to area, and we want to be open about that. For example, at Temple Meads and the surrounding area, information in the Development Framework is at masterplan level, with a high level of detail on where new entrances are planned, and what other changes will be needed to support these proposals. Our plans for these areas are already well-known, and other constraints like the Grade I heritage status of the station mean we can only do certain things in certain places.

Elsewhere, there is less detail, and we want your feedback and ideas on the direction that future change should take. At St Philip’s Marsh, there is a huge opportunity to make change that meets the future needs of Bristol’s residents and businesses. The area has the potential to enable us to deliver thousands of homes, new employment opportunities, new public spaces and green infrastructure, and even the potential for a major new leisure and sport facility on the site of the current Fruit Market.

We set out the opportunities – and challenges – for development in St Philip’s Marsh, and explore scenarios based on different land uses in the area. Your feedback on these early ideas and principles for change will not only help shape the final Development Framework before it is presented to Cabinet; it will also help to shape a detailed master planning process for St Philip’s Marsh that is due to begin in 2023, alongside further community engagement.

Plans include several new entrances to Temple Meads,
including this sketch of the new Northern Entrance

We want as many people to have the chance to respond to the consultation as possible. Alongside the online survey, the team has prepared a full programme of engagement activities, including drop-ins at community venues, pop-ups, walking tours, and online briefings. We’re also working with local schools to ensure young people have the chance to comment on proposals that could affect their future housing and employment options. All the detail can be found on the council’s website. And if you need a translation, Easy Read or paper copy, just let us know at TempleQuarter@bristol.gov.uk.  

This consultation is just the end of the beginning. In 2023 we will be refining our plans for specific areas of Temple Quarter, including the Northern Entrance and Southern Gateway, and beginning the masterplan for St Philip’s Marsh. None of this will happen without the input and expertise of the communities and businesses in and around Temple Quarter. We’re committed to working with you throughout this project to create the change that will bring long-term benefits to Bristol. We’ve already planned four business roundtables for 2023, and plan to create a similar forum for community groups in the area soon. Keep an eye on BristolTempleQuarter.com for all the latest news and events.

The consultation on the Temple Quarter draft Development Framework closes on Wednesday 8 March 2023.

Urgent appeal launches for more Bristol foster carers

Today we are launching an urgent fostering appeal, asking Bristolians to take on the hugely important role of giving a home to a child in care.

Why now?

We’re calling on residents across the city to become foster carers following a steady decline in the number of people coming forward to foster with the council. At the same time, the number of children coming into care is continuing to rise.

We now have more than 750 children and young people in care in Bristol but only 353 fostering households in our city through the council. We are incredibly grateful to every single one of them for their support. But, unfortunately, it’s not enough. 

Because of the shortage of foster carers and the increase in demand, we need to place around 40 per cent of our children with private fostering agencies, or, in some cases, in children’s homes. Although a necessity, it can sadly lead to sibling groups being separated and children needing to live outside of our city, away from their communities, schools and friends.

That’s why we’re running an urgent appeal for the first three months of 2023, to encourage potential foster carers to come forward and offer local children secure and loving homes.

Previous response

When we reached out to you in 2020 with an appeal for emergency foster carers – to help us place a high number of children in short-term care during the pandemic – your response was incredible.

It resulted in twice the usual number of enquiries about fostering, leading to an extra 24 households being approved as emergency foster carers.

We need people to step up again as we’re at crisis point. This time we’re again looking for all types of foster carers – from short to long term as well as weekends and short breaks.

Who can foster?

If you have space in your homes and in your lives for a child who desperately needs you, please contact us to find out more about becoming one of our incredible foster carers. All you need is a spare room and to be over 21 years of age.

Foster carers come from every sector of society, income level, ethnic group, religion and sexual orientation.

You don’t need any qualifications to become a foster carer, but it helps if you already have experience with children or caring for people – whether that’s with your own family, childminding, or having worked in a caring profession.

Why foster with us

Bristol is not the only local authority to be facing a critical shortage of foster carers. It’s a national trend experienced in many parts of the country. One possible reason is the increased cost of living we are all facing. That’s why we’re offering a welcome grant of £500 to you, along with a weekly allowance and other benefits, when you start your journey with us as an approved foster carer.

Unlike fostering agencies that are run for profit, all our funding is spent on supporting local children through difficult times, placing them with kind and loving carers in homes where they can feel safe and thrive. 

All our foster carers get one-to-one support from a dedicated social worker, as well as training and skills opportunities, and wellbeing support so to be the best possible carers to Bristol children.

We also offer a range of benefits, such as free access to Everyone Active leisure centres and free events, such as theatre trips and social events at parks. 

What’s more, when you foster with us, you become part of a wider fostering family through Bristol Foster Carers Association, which links you up to other local foster carers and looked after children, which is a useful support network to draw on.

What it’s really like

Our foster carers tell us that, despite the challenges, fostering is the most rewarding thing they’ve done.

Alex Kear, a bus driver with First Bus, has been fostering with his husband for 11 years. He’s shared with us the impact fostering has had on his life and the lives of the children they’ve welcomed into their family.

Alex Kear

Alex told us: “The best bit is seeing children having fun, being relaxed and able to enjoy life which was difficult when living at home.

“It’s a joy to be able to see them progressing at school and achieving good results and making new friends in the fostering community. 

“The advice I would give to people considering fostering is to do it. It can be very rewarding to see the children you look after turning difficult corners in their lives that you have supported them through.”

If you’ve been thinking about opening up your home to a child who needs stability, love and support, now is the time to act.

It’s a lot to consider, which is why we recommend contacting our fostering team first for an information pack and an informal chat.

Visit our fostering website to find out more or call Bristol Fostering on 0117 353 4200.

Building new homes on brownfield

Councillor Tom Renhard is pictured, smiling, with College Green behind him.
Today’s blog is from Councillor Tom Renhard,
Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes

With Christmas just a few days away, we are reminded once again of the importance of having somewhere of your own to call home. I had the opportunity to visit a site in Horfield, the ward I represent with Councillor Hulme, where we have just started building some new, much needed, council homes for the area. Building new houses and addressing the shortage of adequate affordable accommodation remains one of the key priorities for the council, especially during the national cost of living crisis that we are all facing.

Construction work began on the former Elderly Person’s Home (EPH) site on Bishopthorpe Road, Manor Farm, at the end of last month. The development will deliver a total of 29 new council homes, made up of houses and apartments, and a new community facility for local people to come together. This building is important, as we are not just building housing, we are trying to build stronger communities. The homes on the site are being built using a “fabric first” approach that provides excellent thermal insulation, alongside the use of ground source heat pumps which will also provide heating and hot water for the development. This will result in energy efficient properties which will see household utility bills dramatically reduced.

Local councillors Tom Renhard (centre) and Philippa Hulme (right) are pictured in a group, in front of a differ, wearing high-vis and hard hats.

I am really pleased to see work underway at this site, as there have been a number of challenges to overcome for us to get to this point. Our teams have worked really hard to get as many houses as possible on the site, while still complying with all relevant planning policy and making sure homes are big enough and people living there will have plenty of outdoor space. There have also been issues with contractors going into administration, rising costs associated with COVID, Brexit and the current financial crisis, and poor ground conditions. Many of these problems can be seen across a lot of the sites we are currently bringing forward.

The homes are part of the council’s New Build Housing Programme, regenerating brownfield sites, to provide new high-quality homes across the city. To date 260 new homes have been completed.

A sign illustrates plans for 29 new council homes and a community centre in Horfield. It includes sketches of the development, and that the Housing Delivery Team can be contacted for more information via 0117 352 5284 or housing.development.hra@bristol.gov.uk

The new build programme aims to deliver more than 1,750 new homes for the city over the next five years. As well as the Manor Farm development, we are also due to start construction on a number of other sites in the New Year. Work to build 57 homes across five sites in Lawrence Weston will start in January; the former Brentry EPH will be turned into 34 new homes; and construction is set to start at the former Brunel Ford garage on Muller Road in the spring, providing an additional 32 new homes. With Bristol only constituting 42 square miles of land, building in and up on sites like these – and ones more centrally – is essential to minimise sprawling out.

All these new homes will form part of our Project 1,000 plans, our commitment to see at least a thousand much needed new affordable homes built each year from 2024. Every property we build is important to the city, and we are exploring all options to accelerate our building programme. But, we recognise that we cannot do this alone, and we are working with a range of partners and organisations to build homes across Bristol, including a number of projects on council owned land and community led housing.

More widely, this fits into the context of getting Bristol building more homes to tackle the housing crisis. Last year, a manifesto-exceeding 2,563 new homes were completed in Bristol – including 474 new affordable homes, the most in 12 years. Of these homes, 90% were built on previously developed land, and another 3,500 new homes were under construction as of 1 April 2022.

We are also further exploring the use of innovative, low-carbon Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), which can help to increase the scale and pace of the delivery of high quality, sustainable, affordable homes in the city. We have secured planning permission for 33 MMC council homes across three sites, which we hope will all start on site next spring.

To keep up to date with housing developments, visit www.bristol.gov.uk/newcouncilhomes