Is Bristol’s working harbour under threat?

Businesses on Bristol’s waterfront fear the threat of more development, along with council mismanagement, will consign its status as a working harbour to the past.

A harbour review, difficult access for boats into the city (boats have to give 48 hours notice to enter/leave the harbour) and a lack of communication with local authorities are all leading to concern among some marine businesses for the future of the waterfront as a working dock.

“Bristol has become unwelcoming to boat owners,” boat builder John Raymond-Barker told the Bristol Post.

“With an increasing amount of restrictions put in place, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that they [Bristol City Council] are trying to free the land up so developers can move in.”

The boat builder says that boats, in for restoration, are getting turned away for looking too scruffy.

A policy of providing 48 hours notice to enter and leave the harbour by boat, which is unique to Bristol within the South West, has also been questioned by several local businesses who fear that it is part of an effort to make life difficult for maritime trade in the area, says the Bristol Post.

Other issues affecting the boating community include an ageing harbour, lacking the facilities to support marine businesses, and the closure of a local chandlery that provided essential supplies to the harbour.

Much of the docks are already developed with high end multi-story housing. It’s feared that 48 hour policy is just another move towards either privatising the docks or making it more attractive to developers.

But a visitor to the area says it’s the maritime heritage which draws people to the city, saying: “The harbourside in general is probably one of the reasons why Bristol has become so popular.”

Bristol City Council is running an operations review to look at current practices and consider proposed future developments and how these fit with and support harbour operations. It says information about the review process will be shared on the Bristol City Council website soon.

Read the full article in the Bristol Post, images courtesy of James Beck.

One response to “Is Bristol’s working harbour under threat?”

  1. Ronald Button says:

    That will be a shame if they are trying to squeeze out the employment in the area. At the lock end of the harbour are several boat sheds, no doubt fairly historical. Further up, just past the pub, the Caravan Club Site has had its lease recinded, to be sold off for housing. That bought in a lot of folk that spent money in the City. Further towards the City, how long before the house boats are refused moorings and a flash Marina put in its place? Then the historic railway, warehouses etc. As you rightly point out, Council miss management at its worst and as for 48hrs notice……………