Bristol Harbourside


Design process

The regeneration process involved several landowners, including Bristol City Council, Lattice Properties and British Rail, along with developers (@t-Bristol, Crosby Homes, Crest Nicholson and the JT Group). The Harbourside Sponsors' Group was set up to promote and facilitate the regeneration of the area at a strategic level, and consultants Drivers Jonas presented a development framework to the Group in 1993.

The Draft Local Plan later identified the wider Harbourside site as the City's priority regeneration area, and Concept Planning Group (a group of local architects - Alec French Partnership, Ferguson Mann and Bruges Tozer) was commissioned to enhance the framework's relationship with its urban context, their viability plan being approved in early 1994.

Competitive procedures were used to select the design team, and the 1998 Harbourside Planning Brief was adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance to the 1997 Local Plan.

The Harbourside Design Forum had been created in 1994 to advise the City Council on urban design and architectural matters, and with detailed scrutiny at planning and consultation stages, great efforts were made to ensure objectivity and transparency in this first phase. Construction started in 1998 and finished in 2000. In July 1998 Bristol City Council confirmed Crest Nicholson as development partner for the remainder of the Canon's Marsh area west of the Millennium developments.

The project has been controversial, firstly with the Art's Council's last minute decision to withdraw funding for the arts centre in 1998, and secondly when local opposition to Crest Nicholson's proposals for Canon's Marsh resulted in a rival scheme by local architects Ferguson Mann in 1999, with substantial local support for its human scale and sustainability qualities.

The City Council dealt robustly with concerns about lack of effective consultation regarding the Crest Nicholson scheme, and refused the application. A revised proposal and a new round of consultation followed, with new designers Edward Cullinan Architects' masterplan taking on board previous proposals (including the Ferguson Mann scheme), and proving more acceptable to local people. The masterplan, based on new and improved public spaces, includes over 1.5ha of accessible landscape, the completion of Millennium Square and the Brunel Mile, a Millennium Promenade focusing on the SS Great Britain, and a new walk framing a view of the Cathedral. The scheme was approved in August 2001, and a design toolkit was subsequently developed to ensure consistent design principles were employed across the site.