Clifton Suspension Bridge views threatened by new road network proposals


By Maggie Sawant, Students' Union Correspondent

Historic England and Bristol’s former mayor have raised concerns about Bristol City Council plans for a new Western Harbour development area, which could affect the iconic views of Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, enjoyed and frequently posted on social media by many Bristol students, may be significantly affected if a proposal for a new road network is accepted.

The push for a new road network comes as part of Bristol City Council’s plans to develop a new ‘Western Harbour’ area, which would be home to 2,500 new homes, shops and green space.

The council is gathering public feedback for three early proposals for the ‘Western Harbour’ scheme, using an online survey and drop-in sessions. One of the proposals suggests constructing a new bridge across the Avon Gorge, only 250 metres upstream from the 155-year-old, grade one listed suspension bridge.

The ‘Western Harbour’ development is an attempt to alleviate Bristol’s housing shortage. In the West Country’s largest city, more than 500 households live in temporary accommodation. Bristol is also one of the five most expensive cities in the UK in which to buy a home, with average house prices standing at £282,624 in 2018, 56 per cent higher than ten years previous.

Historic England, a government-funded heritage body, has criticised the proposal to build a new bridge, stating that it threatens ‘one of the defining images of Bristol’; the view of the bridge from the gorge has remained largely unchanged since the industrial revolution.

A spokesperson for the organisation also stated that the enactment of the plans may damage ‘the stark transition from city to countryside created by the Avon Gorge [which] is part of what makes the city so distinctive’.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol between 2012 and 2016, also criticised the proposal, stating that the bridge would be a ‘highly obtrusive structure’. The former mayor also suggested that the bridge may increase traffic at a time when cities ought to reduce emissions from vehicles.

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council emphasised that no firm plans have been drawn up, telling Epigram: ‘We contacted residents and businesses in the area by post to let them know that we’re hosting eight public drop in sessions for residents and businesses to share their views about the suggestions and talk to us about these early proposals.

‘We encourage anyone who has an interest, idea or concern to attend the sessions and take part in the online survey so that we can take these forward to the next stage of any planning.’

Featured Image: Epigram / Patrick Sullivan

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