Case Study: Bristol

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Case Study: Bristol

This is a good Case Study of regeneration.



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 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 scheme

In order to address this problem it was decided to redevelop the former dockland area. The first development involved the SS Great Britain - a historic vessel built in Bristol returned for restoration that attracted large numbers of visitors. This demonstrated that the docks could become a valuable environment for redevelopment. 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

  • Over £300 million pounds of inward investment.
  • Over 3000 new jobs.
  • A mixed commercial environment that includes café bars, restaurants, cinemas, shops.
  • New developments for the arts.
  • Sports facilities.
  • An industrial museum and maritime heritage museum.
  • Various festivals such as 'The Festival of the Sea'.
  • Steam train rides.
  • The preservation and utilisation of listed buildings. For example the Watershed media centre (pictured below) which includes a cinema, studios, art gallery and cafe bar was formerly two warehouses.


  • Residential developments providing much needed housing. Pictured below is one of the latest developments on formerly derelict railway sidings.

Housing development

  • Over 750 000 visitors in 1998 expected to exceed 1 million in 2000.
  • Rated as one of the best harbour-side redevelopments in the UK.
  • The scheme has successfully redeveloped what was a very rundown area. 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.


  • 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.
  • Some criticism of the Millennium Square in that it is feature less and has done nothing to improve traffic congestion.
  • New houses are very expensive - you could argue that the real need was for cheaper social housing.

You should use this Case Study on questions asking about how tourism can be used to redevelop rundown areas.

For further information on this Case Study you may want to visit these two sites: