Bristol residents are undecided as to whether paving over a well-known anti-social hotspot will prevent gatherings. Turbo Island is a small triangle of land at the junction of Jamaica Street and Stokes Croft.
The site , like many across the city, was once occupied by a building before its destruction by bombing in the Second World War. Advertisement boards began to fill the space years later before it become a haven for street drinkers, bonfires, drug use and other anti-social activities - despite being private land.
This year, it was announced that Wildstone, an outdoor media infrastructure firm which owns Turbo Island and its advertisement billboard, planned to tackle ongoing problems at the site while giving it a full revamp. Inital plans suggest it will be paved and a number of bike racks installed. But Wildstone’s Philip Allard said the company was keen to work with the community to see if anything more could be done.
The decision has received mixed results as nearby residents and emergency services welcome the call due to the anti-social behaviour, however, other residents describe Turbo Island as a ‘counter-culture icon’ in the city based in an area primed for gentrification.
“I don’t think paving other it will get rid of the anti-social behaviour,” resident, Chris told Bristol World. “[The anti-social behaviour] has got out of hand but at the same time, it is a bit of a counter-culture icon for the area.
“I am slightly cynical that the land is owned by an advertisement board company and I do not necessarily hold much faith that they will do anything good for this piece of land. I would like to see it be made something a bit better than what it is but now the advertisement board has been destroyed they probably have less incentive to do anything with it anyway - I walk past it every day and had wondered when something like this would happen.”
Another resident, Ethan, believes the future of Turbo Island belongs to its owners, Wildstone, not the community. He said: “If it’s a landmark, it is a little sad but it kind of comes down to what the people who own it want, as much as it might suck.”
However, speaking to Bristol World, Froggy, who frequents the area, called on Wildstone executives to visit the site to understand its role in the community.
“Come down here, London-based company, and tell us ‘this is your land’ because this is our land, it is where we communicate. Yes, sometimes it can be a bit sharp - but this is where we are, this is our community in Bristol, the melting pot in this part of town.
A visitor to the area, called Helen, believes the area will still have ‘pull’ to outsiders due to its other features. She said: “Assuming it will still have a pull, with the Banksy up here - that is literally why we are here, now. But I suppose if it means local people trying to live peacefully and get a decent night's sleep then you can understand that and why people don’t want big parties gathering in one place.”