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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 an 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 impending 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 of photographs from the “days viewing sessions” held in the fall when the local authority went back to the drawing board after losing locals’ trust in its intentions.
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.
Bishopston and Ashley Down Green Councilor 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.
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.
He added: “This is a modest but useful starting point for the next part which is where we fill in those four headings, such as what a ‘gateway’ actually means.
“A master plan where these things are discussed is the next step, which will really get people excited.”
Cabinet is expected to review the results of the next consultation in June and agree on a procurement and funding strategy.
Main photo: Betty Woolerton
Read more: Approval for first new housing development in Western Harbor area
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