Bristol Avon Flood Strategy

Bristol’s city centre is vulnerable to the risk of both tidal surges up the River Avon and downstream river overflow from rainwater. Bristol Council has been consulting on the strategic approach to addressing this joint risk.

Following technical advice, the Council has concluded that downstream measures (a flood barrier) and upstream measures (natural interventions) are insufficient, and that raised defences are needed along city centre waterways.

The society has responded to the consultation.

The main points are:

  • We support the strategic approach of adapting the flood defences gradually over time, and seeking to integrate the defences with the existing fabric.
  • The strategy should be flexible as things change over coming years. If an option is not to be ruled out forever, then the study should consider what protections are needed to ensure that that option remains open. The incremental implementation of the strategic approach should also adapt to Bristol’s evolving transport and place-making policy for the city centre.
  • We support the proposed tactical approach to delivery, especially the approach of incorporating greening, public realm improvements, walking, cycling and recreational infrastructure into the defences. And we support the suggested ways of designing defences, eg set back from river, terracing, glazing.
  • At this stage of development, the details of the incremental approach are lacking, so it is difficult to make substantive comments. We look forward to seeing more detail. For instance, the proposed creative ways of designing raised defences are very welcome, but it is not really possible to comment on them until we see proposals on specific sites.
  • An important aspect is possible impacts on specific views, and we think it would be helpful to show some key views. For example, the raised defences at the Knuckle and new defensive walls from there around Brunel’s Lock and into the New Cut would have a significant impact on the view towards the Suspension Bridge.

One of the consultation documents illustrates what the flood defences might look like at various waterside locations in the city centre – details here.

The full Civic Society response is here.

Alan Morris

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