Critics voice opinion against new route over Avon

Historic England has expressed concerns over Bristol city council’s plans to build another crossing within 200m of the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The new bridge, which has been designed to replace a 1960s structure at the base of the Avon Gorge that links the city’s halves, has come under criticism.

Bristol council believes that the 1960s structure has become too costly to maintain, and that a new route would not only be more cost-effective, but free up new land on which to build homes.

In fact, the council believes that up to £40m would be required to update the structure and bring it up to standard.

Therefore, it has proposed three separate approaches to a replacement. The first would see a new road on the western bank of the Avon created, incorporating a new bridge. The existing Plimsoll Swing Bridge would be demolished, along with all current elevated road structures in the Hotwells and Spike Island.

The second consolidates all river crossings on the eastern side of the Cumberland Basin. The existing Merchants Road Bridge would be replaced by a new four-lane bridge.

Finally, a hybrid plan would combine elements of the first two. It would implement a new road, accessed via a new crossing located south of the suspension bridge. Another bridge would also be created to link Bedminster and Spike Island, while the existing Plimsoll Swing Bridge and elevated road sections would be demolished.

However, a spokesperson for Historic England has spoken out on the proposals, stating that: “The iconic Suspension Bridge is a Grade I listed structure and one of the defining images of Bristol. In particular, the stark transition from city to countryside created by the Avon Gorge is part of what makes the city so distinctive.”

“We are aware of the current public consultation, which is seeking views on changes to the Cumberland Basin road system. The ideas are at an early stage and there is limited information available, but each of the options presented could have serious implications for this special historic place.

“We look forward to working with Bristol city council to understand more about the vision for the Western Harbour, and to help ensure that any future development responds positively to this historic entrance to the city at the confluence of the Floating Harbour and New Cut.”

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