An innovative plan to bring in 22 floating homes into Bristol’s harbour has been dismissed by the city council - to the annoyance of the man behind the idea who this month criticised the public authority.
Kev Draper, managing director of Float8, came up with the idea and said his homes would have been far better insulated than houseboats or yachts. He suggested the council start with 22 of the homes, including some opposite the SS Great Britain where a new pontoon is being created.
He said discussions started with the harbour master six years ago, and he’s since spoken to senior figures at Bristol City Council. But no progress has been made, and now he’s criticised the council for failing to give a clear reason why his proposals have not been taken forward.
Earlier this month, the council gave planning permission for a new pontoon opposite the SS Great Britain - a location Mr Draper said would have been suitable for floating homes, which would provide accomodation as well as money for the public authority.
In an interview, he said: “It’s like a brand new apartment. It has a lot of modern things going for it. But we weren’t allowed to put our show home here, so we put it in London in Canary Wharf. [Bristol’s] harbour master seems to have a love for boats with an engine or a sail, he said he ‘doesn’t like the look of them’. But it would produce a huge amount of revenue for the council.
“This is one of the best harbours I’ve ever been to, and I think floating homes would blend in extremely well. What we want more than anything is just to have a conversation. The harbour should never be a loss-making thing for the council. Let’s just test the waters.”
Elsewhere Float8 has had more constructive discussions with councils in London and Greater Manchester.
When asked for the reasons why the proposals had not been taken forward, Bristol City Council said “there are no plans to introduce floating houses” — but added that thousands of homes were built last year elsewhere in the city. It remains unclear what the obstacles are.
A spokesperson for the council said: “Officers and a former councillor met with Mr Draper some years ago to hear his ideas. As explained on a number of occasions, there are no plans to introduce floating houses on the harbour.
“We are in the process of introducing a number of improvements to the harbour area as part of the harbour review and investing heavily in harbour infrastructure. Meanwhile, back on dry land, Bristol built 2,563 new homes in 2021–22, exceeding the mayor’s ambitious target, including more new affordable homes than for any year in the last 12.”
The council added that should any future plans emerge to introduce floating homes on the harbour, all interested parties would be welcome to bid for a contract by an open and transparent tender process.