Garden business ‘could be sunk by Basin plans’

August 30 2019
Garden business ‘could be sunk by Basin plans’

A popular local garden centre has spoken out about the “disastrous” and “tragic” consequences that the redesign of the Cumberland Basin’s road network could have on the business.

The council unveiled its plans in August to develop a “simpler and less intrusive” road network, which would make way for thousands of new homes, retail and leisure spaces to be built as part of the Western Harbour scheme.

Three different options for road designs have been shared with the public for feedback – two of which (Eastern and Hybrid approaches) will see a new bridge built across the carpark of the Riverside Garden Centre in Clift House Road, linking Greville Smyth park to the Pump House.

Steve Shaw, a director at Riverside – which has been serving the local community for over 30 years and had 50 employees on its books last year – says that the garden centre received no contact from the council about the proposals before they were shared.

Mr Shaw said: “I’m sad to say when the designs seeped out on Friday, it was the first thing we had heard about it – there was no pre-warning or contact, whatsoever. It was disappointing to say the least.

“The lines cross our site sufficiently enough to compromise our business. It will pretty much take out our car park, which would make it impossible for our business to trade. Fundamentally, no car park, no business.

“It has created a lot of uncertainty and we have had to reassure our customers that it is just conceptual at the moment.

“It’s anything but positive for us – it’s disastrous. It would be utterly tragic if the legacy of our garden centre could not continue for the next generation. We will be making our views heard loud and clear.”

In a council document showing the three designs, one of the identified weaknesses of the Eastern and Hybrid designs is that there is the ‘potential for negative impact on the Merchants Road Bridge (which would be replaced) and on the setting of C Bond warehouse’, where the garden centre’s car park is located.

Original designs shared in 2018 did not include the land south of the floating harbour, but now encroaches on Greville Smyth Park, Coronation Road and the western bank of the river Avon.

Stephen Wickham, of Coronation Road, who is part of the Friends of Greville Smyth Park (FROGS) group, has criticised the expansion of the Western Harbour, saying it is “creeping like a fungus into Southville”.

He said: “The problem is, is that we stand to lose our waterside parks and something awful will be done to the mouth of the gorge.

“I’m not against the idea of change, I’m just very worried that we’ll lose something many of us take for granted.”

Stephen, a civil engineer, says the he is particularly concerned about the potential loss of the precious landscapes designed by architect Dame Sylvia Crowe in the 60s, such as Ashton Meadows.

He added: “I’m very passionate about Crowe’s work and it would be a real shame for us to lose that."

Members of the running community have also been critical of the Western approach design as it could impact on the towpath - a track running parallel to the western bank of the river Avon, regularly used by runners, walkers and cyclists.

Southville councillor Charlie Bolton said: “I’d advise everyone in Southville and especially the Ashton end to be on this. While it won’t happen for a few years, it has the potential to make a major difference to the area.

“Riverside Garden Centre may go, who knows what will happen to the Tannery, green space might go, the towpath might be affected and the existing bridge replaced with one or two others. A substantial amount of housing could be built on our side of the river.”

Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol, said: “We have a real opportunity to rethink the ageing infrastructure in the Western Harbour area. At the very heart of our One City vision is building sustainable, vibrant and inclusive neighbourhoods. To achieve this we must ensure everyone is well connected.

“For that reason we are constantly looking at opportunities to fulfil this vision and these early Western Harbour concepts are an exciting step forward. We have a lot more work to do before detailed options are designed, but this very early stage is the right moment to share where we have got to with the community and start a conversation about this opportunity with everyone in Bristol.”