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Takeaways from our ‘Shape our City’ discussion

On Tuesday 16 April, we hosted a “Shape our City” roundtable discussion with Bristol’s Green Party Housing and Development Lead and nominee for Leader of the Council, Councillor Tony Dyer, and Leader of the Labour Group in Bristol, Councillor Tom Renhard. Held at Design West on the Bristol harbourside, attendees gained invaluable insights into the views of the two people likely to lead Bristol City Council following the May election, on the most important current challenges in housing and development in the city.

Joined by clients working in housebuilding, land promotion and architecture across the region, our Strategic Communications, Planning, Design and EIA teams took the opportunity to network and gain a front row seat in the discussion around the current built environment challenges in our city.

Chaired by Director, Strategic Communications, Andrea Kellegher, the debate steered through a range of issues, before the floor was opened to questions. The councillors tackled topics from seeking out the voices of the silent majority in community consultations through early and meaningful engagement, and encouraging younger demographics to join the conversation. As well as detailing their own priorities in development with both focusing heavily on the need to deliver affordable and social housing through new developments and the potential to establish a council-owned company dedicated to renting out social homes, alongside the importance of maintaining strong relationships between the council and the development sector to create positive, lasting change. 

'Shape our City' discussion

Bristol’s housing and development landscape has evolved considerably over the last few years, with significant developments taking place across the city and the delivery of new affordable homes hitting a 20-year high. Bristol City Council is on the cusp of switching from the current Mayoral model to a new committee system, and the Government has recently stripped back some of their planning powers. This will no doubt create substantial impacts, especially with the increased importance of cross-party collaboration. 

Perhaps surprisingly, after the evening’s conversation, this does not seem as difficult as would be assumed. The debate between Cllr Renhard and Cllr Dyer was spirited, however it was refreshingly clear that there are significant overlaps in their policies and aspirations, particularly in their agreement that there is a dire need for more affordable housing – with both councillors noting the number of households on housing waiting lists and the negative social impacts created by Bristol’s housing crisis. Whilst the nature of debate remained at the event’s core, it was clear both councillors were open to one another’s concerns and there was a real sense of the prospect of collective action. 

Following the councillor’s closing remarks, attendees stayed on to enjoy informal networking drinks, taking the opportunity to chat amongst each other and with the councillors. The event showcased the ambitious drive for progress within Bristol’s housing and development sector, instilling a sense that with collaboration and determination, the next few years will really see Bristol thrive.

To discuss development opportunities in Bristol please contact Andrea Kellegher or Lola Newton.

23 April 2024