Portishead Neighbourhood Plan Submission Consultation

Portishead Neighbourhood Plan 2022-2038



5.0 Portishead is a relatively affluent town, although with some pockets of deprivation. Nothing is left of its industrial village heritage. The economy today is based on the services sector and very limited small-scale manufacturing. Portishead is not famous for any particular area of commerce, although there is a wide variety of mostly small businesses covering sectors such as hospitality, health care, retail, manufacturing, marine, communications, creative industries, office and professional services. Avon and Somerset Police is a large employer. Home working, already popular, has increased greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic following national and international trends.

5.1 Commerce is focussed on a small number of sites including Old Mill Road, The High Street, West Hill Triangle, Harbour Road including Kestrel Court, Paper Mill Gardens, Newfoundland Way, and Middle Bridge Business Park.

5.2 The High Street rarely has vacant units for long, in contrast to many other towns locally and across the country. There is a strong core of independent shops as well as regional and national retailers, albeit a disproportionately large number of charity shops and estate agents.

5.3 In recent years, numerous sites have been turned from commercial into residential despite there being continued demand for commercial premises as proven by high occupancy and relatively high rents compared with neighbouring towns.

5.4 An attempt through a Planning Application to turn one of the last remaining commercial areas (Old Mill Road) into residential and retail led to a huge public outcry and three public demonstrations. Eventually the application was withdrawn.

5.5 There is a lack of available commercial land within the settlement boundary, so Portishead business owners often locate to Bristol, Portbury, Avonmouth or further afield.

5.6 Our surveys of businesses and residents revealed a strong desire to retain commercial land as well as allocating more commercial land if possible. With the plethora of small businesses, there is unsatisfied demand for flexible and scalable business premises to support growing businesses.

5.7 Local businesses report that the main biggest challenges are the lack of infrastructure such as transport, conference facilities and hotels. There is also a lack of premises to be able to expand in the right price.

5.8 The main employment hubs offering better paid employment for Portishead residents are predominantly outside of Portishead, notably in North and Central Bristol, Avonmouth and Portbury docks and wider afield.

5.9 This exacerbates the position of Portishead as a commuter town and puts particular pressure on local road infrastructure.


5.10 Transport infrastructure includes roads and motorways, public transport facilities including rail facilities and bus routes, footpaths, cycleways and bridleways and vehicle parking.

5.11 Transport infrastructure is also important in terms of supporting economic development such as haulage and freight to and from the port and airport.

5.12 ‘Active Travel’ refers to the movement of people or goods by using the physical activity of a person for movement. That is, mainly walking and cycling. Active travel also helps to address the growing health emergency as a range of diseases can be significantly reduced by increased physical activity. The Town Council and the policies within this section of the Neighbourhood Plan support the development of an inclusive sustainable transport network that is accessible to all; not just those that are most able to walk or cycle.

5.13 The approach to transport in the Neighbourhood Plan has a significant role to play in delivering sustainable patterns of development consistent with the Town Council’s climate emergency ambition. The priority is to maximise the opportunities for active travel and access to effective public transport and so reduce the overall number of car trips. This reflects the approach in emerging policy from North Somerset Council, which sets out that trips should be accommodated by investing in non-car infrastructure first and foremost, then only increasing capacity for cars to deal with residual trips that cannot be accommodated on public transport or active travel options.

5.14 Car ownership and use is higher than average in Portishead. Local topography and perceived risks of cycling mean there will still be a need for highway improvements to address local issues.