Plans to bulldoze a commercial estate in Portishead and replace it with 350 new homes will throw the town’s work-life balance further out of kilter, according to sector specialists at Bruton Knowles.
Head of the Bristol office Paul Matthews said the plans had understandably alarmed businesses operating from the Old Mill Road site – and could put off other firms thinking of moving out to Portishead.
He said: “The two dozen small businesses based at the site employ more than 200 people. If they end up having to find new work in Bristol that’s an additional 200 journeys on an already chronically congested route.
“From the business point of view, the plans to replace a functioning commercial park with new homes clearly don’t stack up.
“To produce a sustainable community, towns need employment areas within their own boundary, rather than driving employers out. The aim of the council should be to attract more employers to the town.”
Paul Matthews said Bruton Knowles had backed firms in a similar situation in Bath.
“We have supported firms in the Lower Bristol Road area which faced similar pressures - as demand for more and more student accommodation forced many smaller artisan premises to move elsewhere or in some extreme cases to close down altogether.
“While we support housebuilding where appropriate we believe it is shortsighted in the extreme to remove valuable employment space from a town like Portishead – where residents and commuters already face a daily struggle to negotiate the notorious chokepoint on the M5.
“With the average commute to Bristol taking 90 minutes and more, we believe the emphasis should be on providing more employment space in Portishead – not less.”
Paul Matthews said residents and businesses were in desperate need of an alternative route out of town.
“We are particularly encouraged with the second round of consultation currently taking place on Metrowest 1, the reopening of the Portishead to Parson Street line for passenger services.
“The aim to produce an hourly passenger service (every 45 mins at peak time) will surely attract commuters to Bristol, on to rail and off the Portbury Hundred.
“Phase 1 will also incorporate other improvements to the Avonmouth and Seven Beach Line and the service between Bristol and Bath. In all the proposed £200m planned investment in Metrowest must be applauded as the way forward in creating infrastructure which Bristol deserves as the South West’s economic hub.”