Tuesday 17 September 2019

Hotwells: the Westernmost Outpost of Greater Bedminster

Hotwells -for that is the name of the undeveloped western harbour area- is part of Greater Bedminster.

Yes, much of it is north of the harbour, but it is on the flatlands, just north of the harbour.

While Clifton isn't that far away, it's a brutal climb up that Hill -and when you get there, there's only Clifton Village to show for it. Apart from the pubs, a chip shop, a very small library, and an underwhelming convenience store, there is not much there. If you live in Hotwells, and you choose to head south, you can you make your way to Asda, and buy food amongst the friendly community that always seems to be wandering those aisles. And nowadays, you have all of Southville to explore. Your parks and green spaces are also south of the Avon.

That's why the council plans for the Cumberland flyover are more than just changes in Hotwells, they are an attack on South Bristol. In particular, to propose putting a two- or four lane road alongside the Avon, through that green space which connects the Avon to Grenville park, is something straight out of 1970s Bristol road planning. Even Glasgow has backed off doing things that awful since the early 1990s (M77 and Pollok Estate, for the curious).

Our mayor is proposing destroying the unspoiled nature of the southern gorge. Proposing building a four-lane road over what today is the best view you get to the Clifton suspension bridge. Proposing making today's walking and cycling route from Hotwells to Bemmy yet another multi-lane bridge where are all walking and cycling facilities and be an afterthought. Yes, they mention "improvements to cycling", but without spelling them out -you know they'll be afterthoughts or extra lights we have to wait 15 minutes to cross the junction. And you know that as the cost of the project overruns, as the schedule overruns start to be measured in years -the "value engineering" of the project will result in the exact outcome which Avon Crescent got from their Metrobus promises: fuck all.

Why is he doing this? Because it is obvious to everyone with a spreadsheet, that large amounts of money could be made by building houses on the land which the flyover currently uses. The only way to turn flyover into profit is if you can think up another way to get people across the river. Clearly, and attempt to estimate how much a tunnel would cost to build has shown that even before you include the inevitable massive cost overruns, it's too expensive for the people hoping to profit from the land sales to fund -and nobody else is willing to. The only way you can convert that bridge into housing is if you find someone else to put the bridge. A nearby park and the side of the gorge which doesn't have traffic jams is the obvious solution -and if that doesn't work, there is always the bridge to Spike Island, which combined with knocking down some of the historical buildings of the harbour, gives you another place for the bridge. Obviously, if the council proposed building the houses on that parkland, they'd expect some resistance. Selling off the Plimsoll Bridge land space and then handwringing over how about road now need to go somewhere else lets some people make their money -too bad that South Bristol will lose a bit more of its green space and that the nice bits of Hotwells destroyed to put in the bridge which will be needed once the current bridge has been sold off for redevelopment.

So yes, we are opposed to this. Expect more coverage on this topic to follow

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