Western Harbor presentation shows Bristol councilors’ ‘children’s drawings’ and little else


Frustrated councilors who expected to consider new proposals to redevelop Cumberland Basin were presented with ‘nothing to consider’ but ‘children’s drawings’.

They had hoped to hear the detailed results of early engagement with the public, as well as new plans for the area Bristol City Council now calls Western Harbour, at a council meeting on Monday February 28.

But despite the imminent launch of a six-week consultation on Thursday, March 10, members of the Growth and Regeneration Review Board were given a brief report and shown 15 slides, mostly containing photographs of the series of ‘viewing days’ held in the autumn, when the local authority went back to the drawing board after losing residents’ confidence in its intentions.

Read more: The biggest opportunity yet to have a say in ‘Western Harbour’ plans

The slideshow also included a “vision” for the future Western Harbor comprising four guiding “principles” but no details and a few phrases “distilled” from feedback at events called listening labs and creative workshops, which involved actors and activities including plasticine modeling. .

Baffled councilors criticized the lack of information to get a sense of the vision, which proclaims that “as a gateway and connection point, the area will be both peripheral and central”. They expressed concern that the consultation was a meaningless “tick-box exercise”.

They also highlighted that the four principles dating back to the consultation – “Be a distinctive gateway to Bristol”, “Support a thriving community”, “Build on its tradition of innovation” and “Embrace freedom and nature” – could apply anywhere. in the city, so everyone would agree with them anyway.

Officers pleaded with members to ‘put up with’ them and said the timing was unfortunate because, while there would be more details released by March 10, they weren’t ready in time to be presented to the meeting. They said the four “emerging themes” were only very high-level principles at this stage and that a planning phase lasting 12 to 18 months would begin this summer to provide details such as the number new homes and changes to the aging network of roads. and overflights.

Green Cllr Emma Edwards said: “No one is criticizing public engagement or the way it has been done through the arts. It was awesome. But from a review point of view, we have nothing to review.

“We didn’t see what people said. We see photographs of children’s drawings, which is lovely, but we can’t really examine children’s drawings. It’s the lack of data that we can’t really do much with at this point.

Tory group leader Cllr Mark Weston said: “You are certainly consulting on incredibly high principles, and I understand. However, I don’t know how you can consult on four points, like “Are you for or against a gateway to Bristol?”.

“There are no details to consult. “Are you for or against freedom and nature?” I am a “bad conservative” and even I am in favor of these things.

“I just don’t know how you can consult on this without there being more details.”

Labor Cllr Tim Rippington said: ‘I feel your pain, Mark, because I’ve seen so many consultations in this city where the questions are things like ‘Do you think we should have a greener, cleaner city? Yes or no?’.

Young Bristolians take part in a Shape My City session in partnership with Design West as part of the ‘Western Harbour’ consultation project for the Cumberland Basin

“I’m afraid this will be another one and wonder if this will be meaningful consultation or just a box-ticking exercise. It’s a failure in general the way we consult in this city.

Executive Director of Growth and Regeneration Stephen Peacock told members: ‘It’s delivering what we said we were going to do, which was the vision, not the master plan.

“So it’s not spectacular, it’s not a moment of lightning and thunder, because what we’ve tried to do is rely on a broad base of all Bristolians to find that they thought this place might be. It’s not the council that gives a point of view, it’s the people who give a point of view that we amplify and share with Bristolians.

West Harbor

“It’s a modest but useful starting point to move on to the next point, where we fill in these four headings, such as what a ‘gateway’ really means. A master plan where these things are discussed is the next step, which people will be really excited about.

Cabinet is expected to review the results of the next consultation in June and agree on a procurement and funding strategy.

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