Bristol has a long interesting history going back to the Anglo-saxon times dating some time before the 10th century. A settlement first grew between the Rivers Avon and Frome. Then known as Brig-stow (Brig- stow means the meeting place at the bridge in the old saxon language) Bristol was a town by the 10th century and by the 11th century had its own mint. Bristol was in a good geographic position to trade with Dublin, south Wales and the rest of England. Wool and leather were its chief exports at the time. After the norman conquest of 1066, a castle was built on what is now known as Castle park. At this time the population was thought to be around 3 - 4 thousand. In 1171 the people of Bristol were given Dublin by the king and many Bristolians settled there. By the 14th century Bristol was trading with several countries including Spain and Iceland. Ships also left from Bristol to other colonies in the new world.
By the 18th century Bristol became England's second biggest city. This was mainly due to imported goods, including sugarcane tobacco and slaves from Africa. In the 19th Century after the slave trade was stopped, the success of Bristol port was beginning to decline. New industries were needed. It was particularly associated with the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed the Great Western Railway between Bristol and London, two pioneering Bristol- built steamships, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Bristol's city centre suffered severe damage from bombing during World War II. The original central shopping area, near the bridge and castle, is now a park containing two bombed out churches and some tiny fragments of the castle. A third bombed church nearby, St Nicholas, has been restored and currently houses private city council offices.
All development corporations were intended from the outset to be limited-life bodies. They were set up in order to deal with the physical and economic regeneration of various inner-city areas. The area which the Bristol Development Corporation inherited lies to the east of the city centre. For a variety of reasons it had declined for over 40 years. The city council's own figures showed a five-fold increase in the amount of land which had been designated as derelict or underused during the period from 1965 to 1988.
The main project which the corporation had to undertake was to build a new two kilometre spine road linking the M32 and the A4. In the process of doing this, various pieces of land were "unlocked" which had been previously inaccessible and they have attracted over£200 million of private investment in the process. The road carried 22,000 vehicles a day which before had either used small, residential streets as a short cut or had crawled through the congested city centre. The road was built in record time and under budget. It caused minimal disturbance to business and none to residential properties.
Among the new developments which have been made possible by the new road is a highly successful leisure and retail complex at Avon Meads, which has brought a new lease of life to the area. A recent survey showed that 92 per cent. of visitors thought that the development was something of which Bristol could be justly proud. In the Avon Valley, the corporation has established an urban village of nearly 700 housesmany for first time buyerswith shops and a doctors' surgery. Another 400 houses are planned and are under construction. This riverside setting has been transformed from a derelict eyesore into the largest residential development in Bristol.
Several new business parks have been developed which have provided much needed employment. These are now places to move into, and not out of. The corporation has also laid the foundation for the future regeneration of the important Quay Point site, which is next to Temple Meads station. It has now sold the site to English Partnerships who will try to secure a development scheme which will revitalise this part of the city. By the end of this year the corporation will have reclaimed 64 hectares of previously derelict land and it will have provided 6.4 kilometres of road. It will have provided 116,000 square metres of new commercial floorspace which will have been developed. Nearly 700 houses will have been built and 4,600 jobs will have been created. For every£1 of public money which will have been invested, the private sector will have invested £3.
Opposing views Lord Brightman My Lords, I had the privilege and pleasure of chairing the committee which originally considered the order which established the scheme. When I saw the Motion on the Order Paper I felt some alarm because I did not know whether the order was being revoked because the scheme had successfully served its purpose or whether the scheme was terminally ill. I was delighted to hear that the scheme has succeeded, as I am certain will be all the other Members of your Lordships' House who served on that committee.Lord Brightman Your Lordships cannot imagine the devastation which this area of Bristol presented when we first saw it on a bleak October day in 1988. There were abandoned factory sites and land so fouled by tar products that it could not safely be built upon. There was a railway line snaking over empty fields on which reposed abandoned railway trucks through which the bindweed grew profusely. There was a totally inadequate infrastructure to support any redevelopment. In the previous century Bristol was the second city in England after London. If this scheme has revived the fortunes of Bristol I for my part think that the greatest credit is due to the development corporation, to the local authority, to businesses which have migrated there and to all others concerned.
Lord Williams of Elvel My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Earl for introducing this order. It is a very rare occasion on which I find myself able to support Government legislation, let alone Government subordinate legislation, but in this case we welcome the order. I do not go along wholly with the noble Earl in his description of the triumphs of the Bristol Development Corporation because, as he will be aware from debates which have taken place in another place, there are two points of view on its achievements. Nevertheless, it is right at the present time for the activities of the development corporation to be transferred partly, as I understand itperhaps the noble Earl can answer this rather small pointto English Partnerships, but mainly to the local authorities in question. If the noble Earl can say what will be the role of English Partnerships in the future I shall be most grateful and we need not worry your Lordships any longer on this particular order.Lord Williams of Elvel
Bristol's Urban Development Corporation The Urban Development Corporations were set up to regenerate the inner city areas by attracting private investment to the worst areas. They could purchase any necessary land and then had to stimulate the economy to attract private investment. In Bristol the UDC purchased a 900-acre site in an area of industrial decline. Its objectives were to improve the existing infrastructure, make sure there was sufficient housing and provide an environment that would attract new industries - providing jobs and money. The land area near temple meads station was one that had suffered badly from the closure of industry. Much criticism has been targeted at the UDC with many wondering what they ever achieved. Their three main achievements in Bristol were the building of a major new road link, attracting new industry, providing over 4000 new jobs and a significant housing development, much of which was bought by first time buyers.
Criticisms: It pursued many large flagship proposals that never happened. Very little money went into environmental improvements, training or social facilities. During recession, unemployment in UDC areas went up to 25% as opposed to 5%, the city average. Jobs were low skilled and poorly paid. Failed to adapt to the stated wants and needs of local people.
Reasons for decline in Bristol 1980s From 1981 to 1989 manufacturing employment fell by 21 per cent, with particularly sharp declines in tobacco, food and drink, paper and printing, and aerospace, and manufacturings share in total employment fell from 27 per cent to under 20 per cent. This, however, was more than offset by an increase in service employment, most notably of 75 per cent in insurance, banking, finance, and business services.
Bristol task force analysis Unemployment in the spring of 1990 was still over 8 per cent in a belt of city wards running down from the Bristol Task Force area, north of the Avon, to the citys southern boundary. In parts of the Task Force area it is over three times the average for the city. There is a certain shabbiness about central Bristol: the generally run-down state of certain wards, large areas of derelict or semi- derelict industrial or railway land, the old-fashioned and unattractive style of Bristols main shopping centre at Broadmead, along with under-development of arts and leisure facilities: hardly, as one informant put it, a bright- light city centre to attract incoming managers.
Bristol task force analysis North-South communications are poor, which among other things has an impact on unemployment: many of the new jobs are in the north while many of the unemployed are in the south, and there was said to be a Bristol rule that workers other than professionals or managers are reluctant to travel more than half an hour to work.
Bristol task force analysis There are problems of training and motivation: low qualifications, discrimination and poor motivation were identified as difficulties in the areas of relatively high unemployment. There are also, of course, the problems of housing shortage, community development, and social welfare to be expected in any large city. Issues of race relations were highlighted by the St. Pauls riots -- half a mile up the road, as one company noted in giving the reasons for its community contributions policy -- but informants insisted that the ethnic element in Bristols problems, though important, should not be over-stressed.
Bristol task force analysis The Bristol Development Corporations remit is to regenerate one and a half square miles of run-down buildings, industrial wasteland, and badly located businesses mainly South of the Avon. The BDC is the newest and smallest of the UDCs in England and Wales. It is managing a city centre spine road project (using private and public funds) and has recently begun dialogue with voluntary sector groups. The BDC was greeted with suspicion at first by many in the city, but has won a high reputation for rapid and effective action in partnership with small as well as larger businesses and its developing links with the voluntary sector appear to be promising.
Questions Why were development corporations set up? Where was the geographical location that the Bristol Development Corporation had to regenerate? What were the main objectives of the BDC? Why was Bristol in a state of decline? Do you think the BDC was successful?
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