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Engagement Feedback

This section outlines the feedback we received so far from the public and from a wide range of stakeholders.  It summarises what people have told us about the vision for the city centre.

Engagement feedback is an important part of our project briefing and the design team have used this to help shape the proposals and ideas for the Plan. At each stage of the design process, the team will look back at the engagement feedback to check we are keeping the project on track to meet the needs and aspirations of the public and stakeholders.

During Spring 2022 an online survey on this website was completed by 470 people and 300 ideas and suggestions were posted on an interactive map.  This has been a particularly valuable source of information on people’s perceptions of the city centre now and their hopes for the future.  In addition, the development of the Plan has been supported by a range of wider stakeholder engagement, including workshops, meeting, interviews and focus groups.

A summary of the engagement feedback is provided below. Comments have been summarised under headings which align with the thematic strategies that are being used to structure the Plan.

There will be lots of other opportunities for further engagement going forward.

  • Create a city centre where businesses want to be and people want to visit.
  • Broaden the retail offer to encourage a wider range of shops including department stores, independent and local/culturally diverse everyday shops
  • Support the economy with more flexile retail spaces and by finding uses for empty buildings
  • Introduce new uses and activities beyond the retail offer, including for families, and evening as well as day time uses
  • Create a green, clean, safe, vibrant, accessible and inclusive city centre
  • Provide visitor facilities, in particular public toilets and information
  • Celebrate and enhance Bristol’s rich heritage and waterfront location
  • Support tourism, culture and arts activities as well as small businesses and start-ups
  • Create a city centre which makes space for nature through more green and open spaces
  • Manage existing green spaces better
  • Create a network of connected green spaces and water courses
  • Make the most of the waterfront location
  • Introduce more trees and wildflowers to encourage biodiversity in open spaces and within streets, but also on rooftops and walls
  • Include community gardens and projects to help residents engage with nature
  • Ensure green spaces and planting are resilient to climate change
  • Improve cycling and walking routes and public transport to encourage people to leave the car at home
  • Ensure a high quality, efficient, reliable and affordable public transport system
  • Develop a city centre which is accessible for all (noting that not everyone can walk, cycle or use buses)
  • Create good quality pedestrian and cycle routes, with adequate separation between cyclists and pedestrians where possible
  • Create more low traffic areas where these help to create attractive city centre spaces
  • Recognise access by car and parking is important to some people and for some destinations
  • Provide appropriate disabled parking and accessible public transport facilities
  • Create safe, clean, well-maintained, accessible and inclusive open spaces
  • Provide a range of activities, events and play opportunities, in particular free activities for facilities for children and families
  • Integrate new open / play spaces within Broadmead to help other non-retail attractions for everyone to enjoy
  • Provide basic facilities to support open spaces, including seating, and toilets
  • Provide indoor spaces for communities to use
  • Create a greener city centre with more trees and plants and open spaces for people to enjoy and connect with nature
  • Ensure public and open spaces are designed sustainably and are resilient to climate change
  • Encourage a more diverse retail offer as well as more non-retail activities and events, including for families and tourists.
  • Provide local, affordable and culturally diverse shops and community facilities for residents
  • Create vibrancy through a mix of complimentary uses including cafés and restaurants, cultural, leisure and community facilities.
  • Make sure housing is mixed in terms of design, size and type to suit different people
  • Provide genuinely affordable housing
  • Carefully manage an increase in student accommodation and focus on creating permanent communities
  • Provide accessible local facilities including health care, education, sports, culture and leisure for existing, new and visiting communities
  • Find uses for empty buildings
  • Ensure good quality design, and ensure new development meets the highest sustainability criteria Incorporate renewable energy sources into city centre buildings and developments
  • Provide accessible local facilities including health care, education, sports, leisure for existing, new and visiting communities
  • Support development of active community and cultural spaces including creativity, performance, enterprise, skills and learning
  • Expand and diversify the retail offer to include local, affordable and sustainable shops serving everyday needs
  • Address the needs of families/children by providing a range of non-retail and free/affordable activities including play, learning, culture, green space
  • Provide accessible and affordable spaces for uses including artist’s studios, small business, prayer and quiet space
  • Activate and animate the public realm and open spaces to compliment retail and shopping through public art, events and festivals, food and hospitality, greening and play facilities
  • Deliver social benefit for neighbouring communities e.g. through skills development, enterprise and employment opportunities
  • Explore new models and partnerships to secure and manage cultural, creative and community space and opportunities
  • Currently the area is seen as grey, tired, outdated
  • Make the area more vibrant by providing a provide a wider range of activities, beyond shopping
  • Provide facilities and activities for children and families, including play
  • Encourage a wider retail offer, including more department stores, more affordable stores and independent/unique/local stores
  • Provide everyday and culturally appropriate facilities for residents including food shopping and community spaces
  • Make the whole area greener and more attractive
  • Ensure the area is clean and safe and tackle anti social behaviour
  • Create more pedestrian friendly spaces/spaces less dominated by cars (but recognise some people still require access by car)
  • Tackle personal security and anti-social behaviour to create a park where people feel safe and comfortable
  • Enhance and extend the planting and greenery
  • Celebrate the heritage and history of the park and better connect the park to the waterfront
  • Encourage and provide spaces for events, markets, activities and art which draw people to the park
  • Provide spaces, equipment and facilities for children to play
  • Ensure the park is fully accessible and inclusive
  • Improve entrances and gateways to the park and extend the influence of the park into surrounding streets
  • Improve routes though the park and reduce conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists
  • Address other concerns including, lack of public toilets and need for more seating
  • Ensure improvements can be maintained in the long term
  • Ensure the park is resilient to climate change

How much influence will the plan have?

The Plan will be used to inform and co-ordinate development and regeneration proposals across the area. If approved by the Council’s Cabinet, it will become a ‘material consideration’ which means that the council will have to take account of what is set out in the Plan when making decisions on planning applications. It will also be used by the council to guide land and investment decisions.

The City Centre is a complex area, with multiple uses, roles and needs to meet, stakeholders to involve and operational processes to consider. This means it is necessary to understand how much the Plan can bring about and guide change.

The table below sets out an analysis of the Plan's scope of influence:

Plan has little influence over… Plan has some influence over… Plan has lots of influence over...
  • Activities that take place on privately owned land, where relevant consents are already in place (for example existing retail or business spaces)
  • Activities/requirements guided by national policy – i.e general push towards decarbonisation, sustainability and mode shift
  • Planning applications which have already been submitted or are well advanced. 
  • Changing working practices
  • Market demand and land values
  • How we evolve the City Centre Framework (recognising that this provides our starting point)
  • Local planning policy to guide future development (as the DDP will be a material consideration)
  • Planning applications which are at the pre-application stage, or have not yet come forward.
  • Road alignment, allocation of road space and overall transport strategy (although this is heavily influenced by wider BCC policy)
  • Mix of land uses (albeit this must consider market demand)
  • Available funding – where well evidenced plans will help to support successful funding bids
  • Community assets, working in partnership with others
  • The way land owned by BCC is used 
  • How land uses should be distributed across the study area
  • How the public realm and open spaces are designed and improved
  • Development of walking and cycling network and improved connectivity
  • How the area is landscaped and greened
  • How spaces are licensed, curated and marketed – for example the licensing of market stalls and how spaces are used for events and music
  • Use of sustainable design solutions, including drainage  and use of renewable energy in new development

How much influence the community has on the Plan

In a process like this, it is essential to be clear on how much the community can shape certain elements of the plan and have influence to make changes. Defining the scope of influence means we can focus efforts and resources into areas where the community can have the most impact.

When using the term ‘community’ we mean all the different communities who use the site area, including businesses, residents, education groups, community groups, culture and events groups and people travelling through or visiting.

The degree of involvement and influence the community will have on the design elements of the Plan are divided into three categories:

  • Parts of the framework which the community can help develop and deliver solutions with us.
  • Parts of the framework which the community can help to shape alongside other factors. This includes commenting on decisions made throughout the process and helping to develop solutions where possible.
  • Parts of the framework which the community will be informed about but have little influence over. The table below shows how each element of the Regeneration Framework fits in with these categories of influence.

Scope of Community Influence

a. The design and use of public spaces

Understand how spaces are used now, and how they could be used in the future. Identify the improvements required to meet local needs for example around children's play.

Focus area - Castle Park.

The community’s views will be a strong influencing factor over these considerations.

We'll involve the community as much as possible to help us shape how we design these elements

Early engagement will focus on listening to the community and their experience of the area- what is good, and what could be better.

b. Demand for facilities, uses and amenities

Identify the facilities that people would like to see and understand what is needed to make the city centre somewhere people want to live, work and spend leisure time. Note: albeit feasibility and viability are separate considerations.
c. Local heritage and history

Understand which features are locally valued and how heritage should be celebrated and incorporated into the Plan.
d. Public art

How public art is visually and physically accessible to the public. This should be incorporated into the Plan in both outdoor and indoor settings.
e. Community and cultural assets

Identify the types of activities and events local people would like to see and considering the new community and cultural spaces recommended by the project. Where culture is defined very broadly to include a range of experiences and activities including leisure.
f. Routes, connectivity and accessibility

Understand the routes that people want to use, the problems and issues they currently experience and helping to identify potential improvements. Identify streets/places where more focus could be given to pedestrians and cyclists.
a. Overall vision for the City Centre

What the place could be and how that relates to the existing character and identity.

The community’s views will have some influence over these considerations. Public feedback will need to be balanced against a range of other influencing factors. Other influencing factors include:
  • Existing and emerging national and local planning policy (most notably Draft Policy DS1: Bristol City Centre in BCC’s Local Plan Review and the Urban Living Supplementary Planning Document).
  • Long-term city objectives such as those set out in the One City Plan and associated strategies including the Climate Strategy and Ecological Emergency Strategy
  • Local/best practice design guidance including neighbouring Conservation Area guidance, as well as neighbouring masterplan designs (e.g., City Centre Framework).
  • Landownership and landowner objectives and constraints for their sites.
  • City transport objectives (such as encouraging sustainable travel)
  • Urban design analysis including ensuring design proposals contribute to enhancing networks beyond the immediate site boundary (such as transport and ecological networks). 
  • Land values, commercial market assessments and development viability.
  • Technical, engineering and safety requirements such as building regulations and highway standards.
  • Cost and maintenance considerations.

b. Type and location of activities and uses

The type and location of new uses, activities, buildings and open spaces are located within the city centre, including retail.  With BCC landownership being an important factor in influencing where the project can deliver change, but with economic considerations guiding viability.
c. Changes to streets pattern

Where new and improved connections are made, building on the City Centre Framework. To include consideration of requirement for access needs – including disabled parking.
d. Creation of low traffic or traffic free spaces

Where creation of low/no traffic spaces could deliver wider benefits for public realm, environment and other factors.
e. Housing type and supporting facilities

Housing type and development mix including consideration of student housing (but with overall housing numbers being more fixed by external factors).  What facilities are needed alongside housing to help make the city centre an appealing place to live.
f. Sustainability and ecological response

Local measures adopted in response to the Climate and Ecological emergencies.
g. Development of city centre economy

In terms of initiatives to encourage and support city centre business, including retail.  In particular how attractive public realm can support the city centre economy.
a. Study area boundary

This is a clearly defined area.

Some elements of the framework are driven primarily by specialist, technical or legal considerations or requirements. These are largely outside of the influence of the community (e.g., flood risk management) and/or the project team (e.g., land values). These elements can be considered as ‘fixed’ for the purposes of this project, and the community will be informed of the outcome as part of the framework.

In some cases, for example transport and housing policy, there may be opportunities for the community to influence outcomes on other projects and policies (but outside of this specific project).

b. Land ownership issues

Where land is in private ownership change would be subject to landowner agreement.
c. Land values, development viability and the overall quantum of development

These aspects will be driven by economic and financial considerations.
d. High level response to economic pressures/ post-covid issues

Where strategies and interventions are defined by wider economic forces.
e. Building heights and densities

This will be influenced by a range of design and policy considerations.
f. Housing numbers

Will be set through the Local Plan and informed by housing need.
g. Housing mix and amount of affordable housing

The type of housing (including student housing) and the amount of affordable housing that is provided in a development is guided by planning policy and determined through the planning application and negotiation process (where affordable housing contributions need to be considered alongside developer contributions to local infrastructure for example).
h. Overall transport strategy

Approach to mode split/mode shift, parking provision, management of traffic will be framed at City level and in response to regional issues.  Public transport offer influenced heavily by commercial operators.  
i. Wider social initiatives

For example, tackling homelessness or anti-social behaviour (albeit that proposals will seek to design out these issues where possible through good design).

j. Critical infrastructure and utilities

The services which are required to support future sustainable development for example related to flood risk, drainage or energy networks.