Major redevelopment of derelict and redundant sites along Bristol’s waterfront has triggered new calls for the city’s neglected New Cut to be brought back into worthwhile use.
Colliers International planning and heritage commentator James Edwards said two major housing developments along the New Cut could help revitalize the waterway – which follows a 3.2 mile route from Hotwells to the Netham lock on the Feeder.
James Edwards said recently approved developments at Wapping Wharf and at the former Bristol General Hospital site demanded accompanying works to improve the public realm along the New Cut.
He said: “These two schemes just a short distance away will bring hundreds of new homes along with shops and other businesses which will play a major role in regenerating the area.
“The New Cut will be right on the doorstep of all this exciting development. It seems inconceivable to me that new residents, visitors and businesses coming in to the area will have to put up with a waterway which has been left virtually derelict since the 1930s.”
James, who is based at Colliers International’s Broad Quay office, has campaigned to raise the profile of Bristol’s maritime heritage.
His comments follow the announcement that work is finally about to start on the Wapping Wharf development - which was delayed for several years by the recession.
Developers Umberslade are looking to begin work on the first phase of an ambitious scheme to build 180 new homes on the site behind the M Shed museum. New shops, cafes and public spaces are earmarked on the western end of the site between the floating harbour and the New Cut.
When complete, the Wapping Wharf scheme will provide a total of 625 new homes and a 150 bed hotel.
Meanwhile, developers City & Country have been given planning permission on appeal to convert the former Bristol General Hospital on Commercial Road into 300 apartments. The scheme includes an arcade of shops, boutiques and cafes on the hospital’s waterfront on Guinea Street - overlooking the New Cut.
James Edwards said the schemes would have a massive impact regenerating the Bristol Harbourside and opening up the waterfront to new generations.
He said: “The plans envisage a new pedestrian route called Gaol Ferry Steps which will run from Gaol Ferry Bridge over the New Cut to Museum Square by the new M Shed. I am delighted to see the scheme will retain and restore some of the listed buildings and the old jail gates which will enhance the entire waterfront.
“These developments could provide the impetus we need to improve the public realm along the New Cut. We have a great opportunity to reintegrate the waterway as a key component of Bristol’s waterfront infrastructure.”
The New Cut was dug by hand at the end of the 19th century to provide an alternative course for the River Avon during the construction of the Floating Harbour.
James Edwards concluded: “Over time the New Cut has been become little more than a backwater with overgrown river banks blighted with fly tipping and additional flotsam and jetsam brought in with the tide.
“The new development overlooking the New Cut will surely give the city an opportunity to restore this engineering masterpiece to its rightful prominence.”