About the project, the project area, connected projects, timeline, get involved.

About the project

Work started on the Harbour Place Shaping Strategy (HPSS) in summer 2023. 

The HPSS will be a 20 year strategy to make Bristol's harbour:

  • welcoming to all Bristol's communities
  • able to adapt to climate change and better support nature
  • thrive economically so that the docks become financially self-sufficient

The strategy will build on regeneration successes over the past 40 years. It will establish an ambitious and compelling vision which encourages landowners and other stakeholders to work together to make the harbour an even better place than it already is over the next 20 years. Core to this will be the creation of a high quality quayside and water space that can:

  • better support Bristol's growing population
  • comfortably cope with an increasing number of visitors

The HPSS will make recommendations that work across several themes. We expect these themes to include:

  • public realm
  • movement
  • moorings
  • nature
  • energy
  • recreation
  • development
  • heritage and culture
  • flood
  • waste
  • operations
  • governance

We know the harbour is a treasured part of the city with many visitors year-round. The HPSS will help us identify the work we need to do over the next 20 years to make the harbour area even better, including the:

  • quayside
  • water space
  • activities and facilities

Project area

The HPSS project area is Bristol's Floating Harbour, which includes  the water space, the quayside and the uses that contribute to it being a much-loved place. 

The project area extends from Merchants Bridge at Cumberland Basin to Totterdown Basin, an area that covers around 54 hectares, of which 27 hectares are water. The area does not include the New Cut (River Avon), Feeder Canal or Cumberland Basin.

The harbour connects the central area's 3 main regeneration areasWestern Harbour, City Centre and Temple Quarter.

Map of project area for the Harbour Place Shaping Strategy

Connected projects

We're already working on some of the challenges and opportunities we've identified in the harbour.

Bristol's Heat Network

The City Leap Partnership has started installing Bristol's Heat Network, a new network of underground pipes that will provide affordable, low-carbon heat and energy across the city. The Harbour has been identified as a source of sustainable energy, with England's largest water source heat pump installed at Castle Park. The Partnership is looking for more locations to install heat pumps, to serve Spike Island and the city centre.

Bristol Avon Flood Strategy

The harbour fulfils a vital practical and defensive function, managing water during extreme tidal and river flooding events. We worked with the Environment Agency to develop the Bristol Avon Flood Strategy to improve the existing flood defence function of the harbour and the tidal regime in the River Avon New Cut.

Whilst the focus of these flood defence measures will be the River Avon (rather than the Floating Harbour), the HPSS will still need to understand the implications of flood risk to the harbour, outlining appropriate responses.

Bristol Harbour swimming pilot

In partnership with Uswim and All-Aboard Water Sports, we ran a swimming pilot in a cordoned-off area at Baltic Wharf in Bristol Harbour. This will allow us to assess if we can provide a safe and financially sustainable open water swimming area on a regular basis.

Floating habitat

Funding has been secured from WECA's Green Recovery Fund for a major new floating habitat opposite the SS Great Britain. It will provide a much needed home for the harbour's fish, insects and birds, alongside new moorings. The HPSS will explore further opportunities to make sure wildlife can thrive.


Summer 2023

Procurement of design team.

Autumn and winter 2023

The Bristol Harbour Place Shaping Strategy project is broken down into 3 stages:

  1. Creating a collective sense of the Harbour as it is today.
  2. Creating a collective vision for the Harbour’s future.
  3. Detailed place-by-place delivery plans for how all stakeholders might work toward that Vision.

Spring 2024

The final report goes out for public consultation.

Get involved

The HPSS will have many opportunities for you to:

  • have your say
  • provide your ideas
  • shape this iconic space

For more information and to have your say, visit Harbour Place Shaping Strategy website.

If you have questions or want more information, email harbourplaceshaping@bristol.gov.uk