Portishead Neighbourhood Plan Submission Consultation

Portishead Neighbourhood Plan 2022-2038

Environment Policies



3.0 Portishead has a rich blue and green environmental heritage. Located on the southern shore of the Severn Estuary at the mouth of the River Avon, the town has a line of cliffs, beaches and salt marsh along its northern and eastern fringes, opening into the watercourses known as rhynes which drain the low-lying Somerset Levels to the south. The whole of Portishead’s coastline has various statutory protections due to its significant biodiversity and scientific value. There are also expanses of ancient and protected hillside woodland at East Wood and Weston Big Wood.

3.1 Since 2001, Portishead has undergone population growth of approximately 60%, with a significant expansion in the number of residential dwellings and a large increase in the size of the built area of the town. Whilst the availability of land for development has greatly reduced, the demand for housing in Portishead has remained strong and therefore the remaining areas of open space in and around the town are important to protect.

3.2 Portishead’s location on the northernmost edge of the Somerset Levels, between the Gordano Valley and Rodmoor, means that there is continuing pressure to encroach further onto the flood-plain and into the rural fringes of the town which are part of the green-belt.

3.3 At present, Weston Big Wood dominates the slopes of the valley to the south and south west of Portishead, with the built area of the town lying behind the ridge of the hill. Around Weston Big Wood there are natural buffer areas of fields which consist of unimproved and improved grassland, hedgerows, shelterbelts (which act as windbreaks) and trees. These serve as vital wildlife links with the surrounding Gordano Valley. Even small amounts of development around the fringes of this woodland will significantly impact on the biodiversity of the area as well as the visual appearance of the wood from the valley.

3.4 The inter-relationships and inter-connections between the woodland, rhynes, grassland and agricultural land are what sustain the Woods, the Valley, its beauty, flora and fauna.


3.5 The character of Portishead has been shaped over the years by a series of factors including landscape, the town’s coastal location, its industry and the routes into and within the town. There is a wide variety of architectural styles and built characteristics across the town that contribute to a rich and diverse character

3.6 Portishead was a small village prior to the late Victorian era and the subsequent growth related to the dock. A number of buildings are currently designated through the listing system, including the nationally important former National Nautical School (now Fedden Village).

3.7 The Neighbourhood Plan identifies a number of buildings and heritage assets which are of value to the local area that are not currently listed. It also identifies features of the town which have a specific character related to the town’s industrial past, including the rows of dock workers’ housing adjacent to the High Street. In a post-industrial town with a relatively young population, many of whom have moved to the town from outside of the area in the last twenty years, the preservation and interpretation of aspects of the town’s past, whilst looking forward to new uses, is essential.


3.8 Work undertaken by the Centre for Sustainable Energy to support the Neighbourhood Plan concluded that immediate opportunities for developing renewable energy sources within the town are limited. Geography and urbanisation preclude wind and large-scale solar energy solutions. Other potential technologies such as tidal and micro-tidal solutions would potentially be viable within the area and may be a future solution but are not currently mature enough for full consideration, however we want to encourage the use of new technologies as they become available. The recent start-up of a powerful tidal-powered turbine generating electricity in Orkney and the investment of billions of pounds in a tidal lagoon project with underwater turbines in Swansea Bay suggests that the capability to harness tidal power will soon become commercially viable. The introduction of some form of micro-tidal power generation in Portishead could play a crucial role in achieving our ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030.

3.9 Renewable Energy Community Interest Companies such as Low Carbon Gordano (Solar) and Channel Green Energy (Wind) are active in the town and in the wider area and we are keen to encourage these companies to develop further local renewable solutions.