Developed country: Bristol's urban re-generation

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Developed country: Bristol's urban re-generation

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.


  1. It pursued many large flagship proposals that never happened.
  2. Very little money went into environmental improvements, training or social facilities.
  3. During recession, unemployment in UDC areas went up to 25% as opposed to 5%, the city average.
  4. Jobs were low skilled and poorly paid.
  5. Failed to adapt to the stated wants and needs of local people.

Harbour-side regeneration

This is a good case study of regeneration. It is the same case study as regeneration through tourism. It has been adapted and changed slightly. It means that you have less to learn and highlights the fact that many case studies are relevant to more than one topic.

Bristol city council put together a regeneration bid and successfully gained £41 million from the lottery and £21 million from English partnerships.


Bristol's dockland areas went into near terminal decline following the arrival of large cargo ships that could no longer navigate the Avon River. This was also accompanied by competition from the new docks at Avonmouth and Portbury. This prompted the closure of several industries around Bristol docks such as various tobacco factories, a sand dredging industry and lead-shot works. It left several empty, but listed buildings.

As the docks declined, Bristol was faced with several problems, such as growing social and economic inequalities, vast areas of derelict land and in some areas, high unemployment.

The inner city areas were particularly badly hit and unemployment in some areas rose to almost 20%. The inner cities were typified by poverty and deprivation with people unable to afford the necessary food, clothing and services to achieve the bare necessities of life. More than 50% of children received free school meals.

The people of inner cities (including St. Paul's) became increasingly angry at the lack of opportunities, particularly for black youths. April 1980 saw the frustrations of youths explode into a night of rioting.

The scheme

In order to address this problem, it was decided to redevelop the former dockland area. One of the most significant achievements was when Lloyds TSB relocated their headquarters to the docklands area. This acted as a great spur for investment.

Lloyds TSB

The next photograph shows areas of derelict land behind Lloyds TSB. Twenty years ago, this is what most of the dockland area looked like:

Derelict land

The docklands redevelopment has been financed by a mixture of public and private money with the overall aim of providing a new creative quarter for the city with leisure facilities, housing and offices. It has received substantial funding from the national lottery.

Over the past thirty years, the area has undergone major changes culminating in the opening of the new IMAX theatre, at-Bristol science museum and the Millennium Square. The area is now one of the largest redevelopment projects in Europe.

IMAX and @Bristol

Successes include:

1. Over £500 million pounds of inward investment. This has been a mixture of public and private money.

2. The creation of an environment that will attract new businesses to formerly rundown areas of the city.

3. Over 3000 new jobs.

4. A mixed commercial environment that includes cafe bars, restaurants, cinemas, shops.

5. New developments for the arts.

6. Sports facilities.

7. An industrial museum and maritime heritage museum.

8. The preservation and utilisation of listed buildings. For example, the Watershed media centre (pictured below) that includes a cinema, studios, art gallery and café bar was formerly two warehouses.


9. Residential developments providing much needed housing. Pictured below is one of the latest developments on what was formerly a derelict railway siding.


10. Rated as one of the best harbour-side redevelopments in the UK. The scheme has successfully redeveloped what was a very rundown area.

11. By raising the profile of the city and linking the development to the CBD, it is also going some way to counteract the relocation of entertainment and commerce to The Mall.

Development is ongoing as proposals are made for the redevelopment of other sites.

On the whole, the redevelopment has been very well received, but there has been some criticism.

Failures include:

1. Concerns about how the area would fare during recession, especially as it is so dependant on entertainment - one of the first things people would reduce if their incomes fell.

2. Some criticism of the Millennium Square, in that it is featureless and has done nothing to improve traffic congestion.

3. New houses are very expensive - you could argue that the real need was for cheaper social housing.