Portishead Neighbourhood Plan Submission Consultation

Portishead Neighbourhood Plan 2022-2038



4.0 Portishead has a strong community spirit which is supported by a range of facilities and infrastructure that provide for its health, welfare, social, educational, spiritual, recreational, leisure and cultural needs.

4.1 Whilst Portishead has pockets of deprivation, it is generally classified as being in the top 20% of the least deprived areas in England.

4.2 The Town is subject to the same national trends as the rest of the country. COVID-19 and the national lockdowns have seen a great increase in the use of and appreciation of Portishead’s local facilities and amenities.

4.3 Portishead has in recent years undergone rapid growth, with a significant expansion of the number of residential dwellings and an increase of around 25% in the size of the built area of the town. The population has increased by 60% since 2011 to total more than 27,000. There is a general feeling in the town that infrastructure investment has not kept up with the huge increase in housing that Portishead has seen over the last 20 years.

4.4 Older areas of Portishead such as the West Hill Area in the Portishead West Ward have been left behind in terms of investment as much focus has been on the new developments situated on the old docks now known as the Marina area. Portishead West Ward is the largest Ward in North Somerset but has very limited community facilities. Merlin Park is one of the few in the area.


4.5 Despite the issues with poor infrastructure, Portishead remains a highly desirable place to live with a continued strong demand for housing.

4.6 Housing availability and affordability is a very significant issue for Portishead. The local Housing Needs Assessment carried out for this Neighbourhood Plan has evidenced that it suffers from a severe lack of smaller and affordable rented housing and market housing. Households now need an annual income of £90,000 to afford to buy a house in Portishead, meaning that young people and those with an average annual income of c.£46,000 cannot afford to live in Portishead and are forced to move out and find accommodation in neighbouring towns where housing is less expensive.

4.7 We have a growing community of older people. This is forecast to rise by more than 65% during this plan’s lifetime. We therefore need to plan positively to provide comfortable accommodation for our ageing population.

4.8 The opportunity for further development is constrained, and there are a number of factors that affect this:

  • Nearly all undeveloped land within the Portishead settlement boundary is either part of the Green Belt or on the flood plain or both.
  • Portishead’s geography and position, surrounded on one side by the Bristol Channel and on the other by a SSSI and the regionally important ecosystem of the Gordano valley.
  • Whilst a number of highway improvements are now in place at Wyndham Way and Junction 19 to address peak traffic flow, there is only one major road between Portishead and the M5, meaning that any issues nearby on the motorway can cause the town to be congested and gridlocked. It is not without good reason that Portishead has been dubbed the “largest cul-de-sac in Europe”.
  • Public transport is variable. There is a bus service between Bristol and Portishead that runs every 30 minutes, however the service is often unreliable and relatively expensive. Public transport services are affected by congestion both within Portishead and at Junction 19 of the M5.
  • The long-promised reinstatement of rail services is currently forecast for late 2024 but even if the railway does finally arrive, the limited frequency and carrying capacity of services is not expected to have a major positive impact, unless the railway line capacity of the rail link to Bristol is increased.
  • There is a lack of community infrastructure, even such basic facilities such as semi- permanent storage for community groups or rooms and venues to hold functions are lacking, the facilities that do exist are invariably booked up far in advance. There are no entertainment, cultural or arts venues. Community infrastructure that does exist is often “tired” and of poor quality due to a lack of maintenance and underfunding over recent decades.