Bristol: A planning consultant’s view

Bristol street scene

With plenty of new major developments in the pipeline, Bristol is fast becoming a leader in eco-sensitive design and their focus on inclusive public spaces sets the tone for forward-thinking & creative urban design. The new events area at the former Brabazon Hangars site sets to create a huge 17,000 capacity indoor arena, ready for live acts in 2024 – a  fabulous tourism, culture and employment boost to the area. We have been very excited to be working on an increasing number of projects in Bristol and through this variety of work and associated research we can offer our professional view on the key issues and opportunities when working with this local authority.

With a population of nearly 700,000 and the 6th most populous city in England, Bristol has a variety of challenges to overcome. A strong focus on affordable housing, climate and ecological issues, Bristol is a firm leader in promoting sustainable development and is hot on public consultations for larger development projects.

This article will give you a flavour of the current planning position in Bristol.

Bristol City Council – adopted local plan position

Bristol’s current local plan is now quite outdated, it is made up of the;

  • Core Strategy (June 2011) 
  • Site Allocations and Development Management Policies (July 2014)
  • Bristol Central Area Plan (March 2015)
  • West of England Joint Waste Core Strategy (March 2011)

The LPA also have a variety of Supplementary Planning Documents that give further details on Bristol specific issues such as; The University Masterplan, Spatial Frameworks for the City Centre, Bedminster Green & Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone and documents relating to Urban Living and higher density development. This is also supported by other more standard documents on issues such as design, conservation areas and guides to Housing/parking/waste management, travel plans etc. Together these documents create a holistic framework for planning decisions in Bristol.

Bristol City Council – latest emerging local plan position

As of 12 May 2022 is would appear that all work on the spatial development strategy (SDS) has halted. Ongoing disagreements over the draft housing plan and associated housing figures seemed to be the central issue.  The SDS would set out the numbers and rough locations for new houses and employment sites up to 2041 in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset.  However, talks have no collapsed, leaving the area vulnerable to speculative development. 

5-year housing land supply and housing delivery in Bristol

Currently, Bristol do NOT have a 5 Year Housing Land Supply.  The latest publication detailing the Council’s housing delivery statistics in June 2021, concludes the Council have a 3.7 year supply.  Recent appeal decisions (in Q4 2021) concur that the LPA do not have a 5 Year Housing Supply, but the Council have remained silent on what the exact shortfall is at present.  We will continue to monitor this situation.  

Residential opportunities

What does this mean for residential planning applications? The lack of 5 year Housing Land Supply can be seen as an opportunity to seek planning permission on sites that ordinarily would not gain permission (providing there is no harm to other aspects of the site and surrounds – e.g. design/light/parking/conservation etc.) as the ‘tilted balance’ is engaged meaning the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies.

We firmly believe that having an experienced team to assist you in your development goals is key to success and we have regularly partnered with architects such as Barefoot Architects, who have passive and sustainable eco-design at the forefront of their creativity along with sound knowledge of the locality.  

We also have excellent rapports with a variety of technical experts in the area, should your development require additional reports and input from the likes of heritage, transport and ecology consultants.

How we can help you?

Our team regularly help landowners and developers promote land as potential strategic development sites and we can assist in a variety of ways, including:

  1. Provide planning consultancy assistance with planning applications and planning appeals;
  2. Strategy advice; and
  3. Local plan representations.

We offer a variety of services and packages, from consultancy services to fully funded solutions via our sister company, Context Land

Contact our team via or call us on 01242 501003 to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project.  You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.

*The content is correct as at the date of the article*