Bristol is falling behind other major UK and European cities by failing to exploit the full potential of its waterways. 

That is the view of Tim Davies, head of the South West and Wales at global real estate advisor Colliers International, who says the city is “missing a trick” when it comes to realising the commercial and residential possibilities of the Floating Harbour and its miles of waterways.   

He says that despite its proud maritime heritage, Bristol is well behind the likes of London, Birmingham and Manchester in terms of the “vibrancy and vitality” of its waterfront. 

“As one of the UK’s great port cities and the home of John Cabot’s Matthew and Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s ss Great Britain, Bristol is rightly proud of its maritime heritage,” says Tim Davies. 

“Great strides have been made in recent years with regeneration of large parts of the city’s waterfront in terms of new residential schemes and in the city’s leisure offering, with the latest scheme being the transformation of the derelict Redcliffe Wharf site into a new development containing flats, restaurants, shops and offices. 

“House boats have become increasingly popular as an alternative place for people to live, and water taxis are helping to ease the city’s traffic congestion, but the fact that remains that Bristol is missing a trick when it comes to fully exploiting the potential of one of the jewels in its crown. 

“If you look at what’s happening in areas like Docklands and the South Bank beside the Thames in London, Brindleyplace in Birmingham and its many miles of canals, and developments such as Salford Quays in Manchester, it is clear that Bristol is lagging behind. 

“In the three largest cities in the country, the water is well established as a place to work, rest and play – and also increasingly to live. Bristol has many challenges ahead but it is essential that Bristol City Council and local stakeholders focus on what can be achieved on and around our waterways.  

“Bristol is fast running out of land in the city centre and the opportunities on the waterfront need to be fully exploited.”