One of the main features of Bristol is the Floating Harbour that meanders through the city, lined with boats, from tatty barges to three-masted sailing boats, right up to floating nightclubs and restaurants. But did you know that in the late 1960s there was a plan to close the Harbour to navigation, and build giant roads over it? And that a City Docks Act was passed in Parliament to make it possible, and it was only the global recession of the 1970s that prevented it?
Richard Holden worked in the Planning Department at Bristol City Council for 36 years, and he told me all about that, what would have happened if the road plan had happened, and more of the stories about the Harbour, including how the M Shed cranes were saved.
We also talked about the good, the bad and the ugly in Planning, how some of the developments came about, and how the best Planning work is essentially invisible. He also told me about the current threats to the Harbour – nothing as extreme as a giant road, but developments that really do risk destroying some of the wonderful things that are emblematic of the city. Scroll down for what everything can do to try to prevent these, and other, threats.
Richard sent me some photos of what parts of the Harbour looked like before redevelopment, and I’ve put them on this map, under the red icons, along with pictures I took about places we talked about, which you can also see in this flickr album.
If you want to help shape the future of Bristol’s infrastructure and planning, there are things you can do:
- Sign up to the Bristol City Council Consultation Hub email list, so you’ll be informed about any consultations that happen in the future, and able to take part in them – and follow the Ask Bristol twitter
- Contact the Mayor, Marvin Rees, and your local Councillors, to tell them what’s important to you that we protect in this time of austerity
- Keep an eye on the planning applications and comment on them
- One top tip is to frame things positively, talking about what you like and why it’s important you, and why you don’t want it to go, rather than negatively.
There are organisations that are involved in trying to preserve the Harbour that you can also get involved with and support. These include:
You can download this podcast directly from the Avon Stories Soundcloud, and sign up for all the future podcasts via the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud to make sure you hear all the future stories. You can also follow the project on twitter and instagram, for regular photos of the rivers and water in Bristol.