A view across the river towards Bristol's harbourside buildings. The towers of Bristol Cathedral can be seen rising above in the middle ground.
A view of Bristol's harbourside to Bristol Cathedral beyond. © Historic England
A view of Bristol's harbourside to Bristol Cathedral beyond. © Historic England

Historic England Objects to Waterfront Square Development in Bristol

Historic England has objected to the proposed seven-storey office block on the grounds that it will harm Bristol’s character and identity, and people’s appreciation and enjoyment of the city.

We are concerned about how this scheme would impact the character and people’s appreciation of this historic part of the city centre. It would have a detrimental effect on views from the Floating Harbour up to the Cathedral and cityscape beyond.

Ross Simmonds, Acting Regional Director Historic England

A dynamic city like Bristol needs to fully embrace development and we do not oppose change, but in our view this scheme is not good enough to justify the damage it would cause to the City Docks conservation area, the setting of the Cathedral, and the views of some of the city’s most important buildings and spaces.

It is possible to accommodate growth in this area without compromising valuable historic character, as many other repurposed historic buildings on Bristol’s waterfront demonstrate, such as the Arnolfini, the M-shed, the Mud Dock, and the Watershed.

The Waterfront site sits within the City Docks Conservation Area and overlooks the meeting point of the river Frome and the Avon which were canalised when the city’s Floating Harbour was created in 1823. The site, which is largely undeveloped with some modest scale harbourfront buildings, affords important views towards the Grade I listed Bristol Cathedral and many of the city’s landmark historic buildings, including the University’s Wills Memorial Tower (Grade II*) and the Cabot Tower (Grade II). These views are important to the character and appearance of the City Docks conservation area and key to understanding and appreciating Bristol’s unique and distinctive cityscape.

We recognise the potential of the Waterfront site. The right scheme in this location could make a positive contribution to Bristol, but any proposal for this site must equal in quality the outstanding surrounding cityscape. This historic part of Bristol deserves a thoughtful development scheme which responds to and doesn’t dominate its surroundings

Simon Hickman, Development Advice Team Leader Historic England

Our response to Bristol City Council on the planning application (Application No(s):21/05580/F) can be read in full below.

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