Heritage specialist rails against ‘health and safety gone mad’ plan for quayside

Proposals to install railings alongside the quayside near M Shed in Bristol’s floating harbour make a mockery of the city’s vibrant maritime heritage, according to planning and heritage specialist James Edwards.

The Bristol-based heritage specialist has thrown his weight behind the growing campaign opposing the provision of railings along the quayside.

He said: “ Whilst  safety is paramount, I would be very surprised if there have been sufficient numbers of people fall in the docks to warrant the installation of railings. Of those who have fallen in, I would question whether railings would have prevented them falling in the first place.”

The Broad Quay based planning specialist said Bristol’s historic floating harbour  remained an operational harbour, albeit no longer  an operational port in its heyday.

“It would be a huge shame if railings were installed in this rich maritme environment, particularly  where you have some of the last remaining dockside machinery and infrastructure, railway lines and cranes.

“To put railings up will effectively create a divide between the docks and the surrounding land –  it will kill off the   vital link that we have with the floating harbour.  We have already cordoned off much of the docks over the years, let’s try and preserve some semblance of our history.

“This is a quayside, it always has been a quayside, and to fence it off would render the floating harbour as a side show when in fact it is the main attraction.”

He went on: “Creating a physical barrier between the docks, historically the lifeblood of the city, sends a very clear message  to visitors –  the floating harbour is playing second fiddle, and should be seen as a water feature but nothing more.

“The floating harbour should remain a key aspect of this city. We should show off what little we have remaining of our dockside heritage and we should be encouraging more vessels of a larger size into the city making them feel welcome in the city rather than as an afterthought.

“This proposal is another example of health and safety gone mad.  I am sure   the city council does not want to have to commit much needed resources to this proposal.

“It is I believe a sad reflection of our litigious society that we find ourselves in. We need to take stock of this problem otherwise we will find increasingly that it has greater implications on our public open spaces and townscapes to the detriment of what we value.”