Project Details


Although the Bristol Urban Area can legitimately claim to be in the vanguard of urban transformation, its development pathway is also characterised by paradox and it needs to deal with some stark realities. Despite having a motivated stakeholder group and enviable collaboration through the many city partnerships, progress towards Bristol’s aspirations must still overcome many complex barriers. Communities of different race, religion and creed are heavily spatially segregated throughout the city, with poor accessibility to goods, services and opportunity compounding this issue. It is notable that a significant minority of individuals never leave their wards to experience other parts of the city, and generally social and physical mobility around the city are key concerns. A study in 2009 concluded that Bristol had by far the worst transport provision of the UK’s 12 leading cities. Inequality between rich and the poor is pervasive and widening; 26% of children in the city live in poverty once housing costs are taken into account; adjacent city wards experience a 9.5 year life expectancy gap, with a difference of 25 years lived in good health; and there is a significant lack of inclusion and diversity in decision-making. It is also clear that whilst Bristol has made exceptional achievements in 2015 under the banner of EGC, there are major hurdles to overcome in realising its aspirations of becoming a Carbon Neutral City. The scale of many of these challenges cannot be dealt with by business as usual (BAU) approaches. Instead, the urban area’s communities need to conceive and realise disruptive solutions that will deliver the large step changes that are needed.
This proposal addresses a fundamental issue: what is stopping Bristol from bridging the gap between our current situation and the desired future as encapsulated by the City’s various visions and aspirations?
In Autumn 2015 we held a series of workshops to co-produce this bid, involving the two local authorities, partnership organisations, Innovate Future City Catapult and academics from both Universities. The hypothesis emerging from this process is that that the following factors are having a critical, rate-limiting, effect on progress:
1) our inability to effectively and rapidly collaborate and co-produce solutions across disciplines and sectors and with ‘ordinary citizens’ or even vulnerable citizens;
2) insufficient capacity to learn collaboratively and share experience in a way that is structured and meaningful for all;
3) a lack of time, resource and motivation to deviate from the status quo and disrupt systems or patterns of behaviour;
4) a mental model that suggests people and the city systems serve the economy, rather than the economy and the city system servicing the material, social, emotional and cultural needs of people; and
correlated with these, an underdeveloped and siloed understanding of the different forms of value that infrastructure, other goods and services play in the lives of people living and working in urban areas, and the lack of an accepted framework for including value in decisions
Effective start/end date15/06/1630/09/17

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Knowledge, Culture, and Society


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