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BRISTOL: Bedminster Green funding bid

BRISTOL: Bedminster Green funding bid

Aerial view of the green in Bedminster.

The council needs millions more pounds than it has to build vital infrastructure for a huge new housing development in South Bristol.

Several different developers are involved in the Bedminster Green project, which will eventually see over 2,000 new homes built on five sites in a flood zone either side of Malago Road in Bedminster.

In March 2019, the city’s ruling administration approved the future use of up to £6million to design and deliver infrastructure, such as flood-proofing measures, linked to the development.

The “in principle” funding, from money levied from developers, was to cover work to improve the roads, prevent flooding, and open up and restore the Malago River, which runs underneath the land.

Now, two and half years later, Bristol City Council says it has a “clear idea” of the amount needed to fund the work, and that it is about £14.3million – some £8.3million more than its initial estimate.

It has bid for up to £13.5million of government money to plug the funding gap and to spend on other parts of the project as well.

Details of the infrastructure planned received “strong” support in a public consultation earlier this year, according to the council, and includes a new bus lane on Malago Road, wider footpaths, improved cycle lanes, and bringing back the Malago River above ground, providing a place for wildlife to thrive, while also creating a place for flood waters to be stored.

Announcing the funding bid on Tuesday (November 2), deputy mayor Craig Cheney told a meeting of the ruling Labour administration: “Bedminster Green is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform five brownfield sites to create a thriving, new, sustainable community, delivering over 2,000 new homes, including affordable and student accommodation, new commercial spaces, a multi-storey car park, improve sustainable transport connections, flood mitigation and enhanced public spaces.

“The detailed costs mean we can now allocate the correct amounts needed.”

A paper to the cabinet meeting explained that the original cost estimate was based on “high-level information” available at the time.

“It is now clear that a total of up to £14.3m funding is required to enable the transformation of Bedminster Green in line with the framework approved by cabinet in March 2019,” the paper said.

Increased construction costs, new obligations due to the council’s declared ecological and climate emergencies, new information about the difficulties in building out the site, and the complexity of the project have all contributed to the cost increase, according to the paper.

The council has submitted a bid to the Department for Transport via the West of England Combined Authority for £13.5million from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement.

If the bid is successful, the council has cabinet’s backing to spend up to £14.5million altogether, including the £6million of strategic community infrastructure levy funding approved in 2019.

Cabinet also gave permission for the council to bid for up to £250,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding as well, if it is needed.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has asked the council for an update on whether its bid to the Department for Transport was successful.

Words: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter


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