Raising the standard of master planning around cathedrals

Ted Cullinan master plan sketch for Bristol Harbourside / King's Marsh site showing walk-way links between SS Great Britain, Bristol Cathedral, Queen Square and Temple Meads station far right (Image @Cullinan Studio)

Interest in visiting cathedrals has grown due to National Lottery Heritage Funding in recent years, but has the master planning around them been of a high enough calibre and are current plans to 'manage' cathedral quarters, the right ones?

Over the last few decades, cathedral views have been obscured through modern additions to surroundings and the value to our visitor economy lost through failure to make the most of neighbouring historic streets and buildings. Often, it was not understood how cathedrals should 'fit' into new master plans or the importance of linking them to other historical assets through new visitor walkways.

Future Cities Forum talked with Cullinan Studio's Practice Leader Peter Inglis this week about these issues with regard to his Bristol Harbourside master plan, completed in 2015 for Crest Nicholson. Peter agreed that many of the views of Bristol Cathedral had been hidden over the years and it was a key understanding that they should be revealed. The sketch above by the late Ted Cullinan shows the vision for how historic assets of the city such as the SS Great Britain, Bristol Cathedral and Temple Meads station would be linked through the regeneration of the King's Marsh site. The emphasis is on creating an attractive walking route while opening up views and creating connections between the new riverside homes, Harbour Square and the wider city.

Covering seven hectares, the Bristol Harbourside project has transformed a brownfield site of former docks, railway goods depot and industrial activity into new places to live, work and relax. It centres on Canon's Marsh which lies at the heart of the city beside a bend in the historic Floating Harbour and is overlooked by Bristol Cathedral and the heights of Clifton. The site contaminated by gas works had lain derelict for some thirty years before regeneration.