May 042018

This is the last week of the consultation on the Urban Living Supplementary Planning Document, which will determine what Bristol looks like for the next 50 years. Yet there’s been almost no press coverage. Mayor Marvin Rees is aggressively pushing a high rise agenda which is:
Destructive of the city’s heritage
Threatening to its economic future
There’s a profound democratic illegitimacy about this. It is completely wrong to launch such a major plan, which will fundamentally change our beautiful city’s appearance, without the Mayor having mentioned it in his electoral campaign, and without ordinary people having been consulted during the long consultations on the future of the city which took place from 2015-2017.

There was simply no mention of tall buildings in his campaign.

Nor in the initial consultations which led to the ‘Urban Living’ document, as explained here

Yet now the entire appearance of the city is under threat, starting with planning permission being given for a 26-floor skyscraper block of flats on the SE corner of Castle Park. Which we are told is great – because the Mayor’s planning team says it will ‘bring legibility’ to that corner of the park. In what theory of urbanism do you need 26-floor skyscrapers at park corners in order to ‘bring legibility’ to them?

All this is wrong. It is immoral. It is undemocratic.

The distinctiveness of our historic city which attracts so many bright and creative young people to its vibrant streets will be spoiled by homogenous high rises, the poor quality of which is already sadly apparent in the artists’ drawings for sites to which planning permission has been given.

Unless we act now, the city will be studded with second-rate tall buildings, which in turn will set precedents for further tall buildings. There will be no going back. The nightmare of the 1970s will be repeated. Already the Mayor is rushing, head-on, in the direction of making the city like Leeds – ugly clusters of high-rises, overwhelming the charm of our much-loved city.

And as one councillor said to me: “This is perhaps the biggest mistake the City will make in 20 years.”

Hence this campaign.
How to make your views known to the council
Please get in touch at

I have just put up The Bristol Campaign Against High Rises, a knowledge-base for Bristol groups campaigning about this important issue. Also, as a way to link groups. There’s also a pdf setting out the case against high rises in Bristol here.

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