A big chunk of Bedminster, between the railway line and East St up to Windmill Hill City Farm is about to get built on. What’s proposed is mostly a mixture of 1- and 2-bedroom flats and student accommodation. At the same time, there are a lot of vacant properties on East Street, with efforts underway to regenerate the high street.
Both these situations give a chance to make space for community activity.
In 2019 we started to have conversations to raise interest in ideas about what community spaces might be popular in Bedminster. Starting with the proposed new developments we wrote up what we found in a Charter for Bedminster Green.
Through the summer of 2020 we’ve had more conversations and refined our thinking. We went onto East Street for two days to talk to local residents, we had a website that illustrated some ideas and invited comment, we also ran some focus groups, particularly with students and young people (planning has been granted for 850 student units already and there may be more).
You can see a full account of what we found here. In summary, the most popular ideas and common strands of thought were to:
- create multi-purpose spaces that foster a sense of community and are affordable
- make space for evening activities that don’t revolve around boozing
- create active spaces for learning, workshops, culture and performance
- attract a diverse range of people, including those already using Bedminster
What happens next?
We’re now pursuing three potential avenues in order to try to bring these ideas to life. None of them are certain. There are no guarantees. We’ll need to build partnerships to make any of them happen. The three ideas we’re working up are:
A community learning space – this could be a combination of work and study space, access to the internet alongside an informal café. It could provide rentable ‘hot desks’ where you could dock a laptop and have access to good broadband and printing facilities. For those not yet ‘au fait’ with tech it might have people on hand to guide and support. In the evening you might find a space for a poetry slam or cultural event.
A space by the green – ‘Plot 5’ has some space earmarked for community use. We’d like to make the most of the location – between Windmill Hill and East St, next to the green – to bring inside and outside together and enliven the space. Maybe a repair café, library of things or gallery space.
A civic centre on East St – a larger space that hosts a multi-functional space with commercial and community activity together. Maybe music studio, dance space, ice-cream parlour, food hall, gallery, wellbeing space – all hosted to create a vibrant centre to the street.
Get in touch if you’d like to be part of these developments.
More about Bedminster Green
More information about the Bedminster Green development is available at the websites of groups interested in it.
Bristol Civic Society website (external link)
Wham Bristol website (external link)
More about East Street
More information about East Street and the area surrounding it can be found at these websites.
East Street Vision (external link)
Action Greater Bedminster (external link)
More about high street regeneration
There is research and information about the role of community organisations in enlivening high streets at these websites.
Saving the high street: the community takeover – Power to Change (external link)