All aboard for Bristol Is launch

By Jane Thynne - Wed 18 September 2019, 1:27 pm

A group of almost 100 property professionals and civic officers gathered at the launch of the latest issue of Bristol Is magazine, which took place at Bristol's Passenger Shed this week.

The exclusive networking event was held with Mayor Marvin Rees and members of his senior team to mark the publication of the magazine’s third issue, created by regeneration specialist 3Fox International, which seeks to detail the city’s ambitions and key opportunities.

The special occasion outlined Bristol City Council’s progressive regeneration plans and offered potential partners the chance to discuss the many areas of opportunity that the city affords.

Architects, placemakers and developers listened as the mayor invited them to unlock Bristol’s potential and embark on a period of “good growth”, benefitting both present and future residents. 

“These are very exciting times for Bristol,” said Rees. “Alongside the regeneration of the harbourside areas we are also ready to welcome Channel 4 which will be a real boost to our creative output as a city.”

He then went on to reveal that Bristol had been named as one of six cities shortlisted for this year’s prestigious European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) Award. The €1m prize is awarded annually to the European city that is “best able to demonstrate its ability to harness innovation to improve the lives of its citizens”. 

Rees said the recognition reflected the work the council and other stakeholders had undertaken to create Bristol’s One City Plan – a document that outlines the potential growth for the city while maintaining inclusivity and sustainability for the next 30 years.

He added: “What we hope for investors is that once you have read the document you will see not only where we want to be in five or 10 years but what we want for our workforce, for our environment, economic stability, creation of skills. By coming into Bristol we want you to help us write that plan. By joining with us you have a say in what we want Bristol to be. 

“It is one of the things that makes us unique at the moment – we are not a small local authority trying to hold on to power. We want people to come and join our conversations to take collective responsibility for the city’s future.”

Following Mayor Rees was Colin Molton, the council’s interim executive director of growth and regeneration. He outlined the city’s major areas of opportunity which ranged from Lockleaze in the north to Western Harbour in the south of the city, where it is hoped some 2,500 much-needed new homes will be accommodated. 

One of the major points of regeneration is centred on Temple Meads and the area surrounding the iconic railway station designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Much of the land is owned by the council, which Molton said made the project “eminently do-able”. 

He also noted Network Rail’s readiness to update the station, and while challenges - such as the cost of the project remain - he believed that under Rees’ leadership the “project had its best chance yet of coming to fruition”.

Nicola Key, head of programme delivery at Bristol University, then took to the platform to unveil plans for a £300m scheme which will include a “world-leading campus” being built next to Bristol Temple Meads station that will cater for some 3,000 students and 800 staff, as well as business, enterprise and community partners. Alongside this are plans to build student accommodation on Temple Island, which will provide rooms for 950 postgraduate students.

“It’s a major change for the University of Bristol, which is mainly based in the Clifton area of the city,” said Key. “The new campus will provide a through way from Temple Meads to the St Philip’s region. It is going to be a lively, thriving area with a twilight quarter to grow the atmosphere and provide activities for staff and students to take part in. It’s not just a nine-to-five location.”

In line with Bristol city’s desire for greater inclusivity, Key also revealed that the new Cattle Market venue would act as a “civic campus” opening up facilities for residents. In terms of economic benefits, she also said that the new campus would add even more to Bristol’s offer in terms of jobs and skills creation. According to a recent study by Arup, the plans would add £600m net GVA over the next 10 years.