Recession or no recession, there seems to be no let up in the breathlessly hyped world of property developments across our fair city. There’s hardly a plot of land not fenced in and surrounded by big glossy pictures of pretty models enjoying aspirational lifestyles – but just what sort of people are the developers trying to attract?
At Canon’s Marsh off Anchor Road, Crest Nicholson calls its development Harbourside. The advertising hoardings claim “inspiration from Bath’s classical Roman architectural history” (Eh? Do they realise where they are?) and promise “a new view of living”. Well, so long as you aren’t too dark skinned it would seem – all the models in its cosy scenes of hip urban dwelling are young and white.
Down on the Centre, at the foot of the refitted old Bristol & West tower, is the Broad Quay development, courtesy of property consultants Knight Frank and Lambert Smith Hampton. Here the slogan is “Be Close To Everything”; except – judging by the pale faces smiling out of the laminated boards – Black and Asian Bristolians.
Heading north we find ourselves on the outer edge of Montpelier at the old VW garage on the corner of Bath Buildings and Cheltenham Road. This is Essence, “an exciting collection of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom apartments” being assembled (after a fashion – they appear to have run out of money) by Linden Homes. This 129 flat development celebrates its vibrant nature with hip names for its different sections, like ‘Vibe’, ‘Spirit’ and ‘Origin’ (I shit you not!); but again, some kind of unspoken colour bar prevents any non-caucasian faces from being featured enjoying life in the “distinctive and diverse” properties on offer.
Finally, let’s see what life in trendy young development-land has to offer south of the Centre… Wapping Wharf – tucked between Wapping Road and the new Museum of Bristol – is an Umberslade project, and is promoted with the tagline “Creating a thriving environment in a historic harbour setting”. Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? And the pictures really reflect the Floating Harbour’s heritage, with anchor chains and cranes and ropes and… Ermm… No non-white people?
So, what do you reckon – are the developers trying to tell us something? Perhaps we ought to be telling them something straight back.