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Street life


NIKI BENNETT of Goodman & Lilley property agents (goodmanlilley.co.uk)


Q. You have grown up in Portishead – what changes have you seen? A. The biggest change has been the size of the village – we oldies still refer to it as ‘the village’, even though it clearly isn’t! Thankfully, we have the main strip of the High Street, with all the shop fronts reflecting the ‘old times’, and we still have a good number of independent traders. It’s a known fact that Portishead is the fastest growing town in Europe, but it retains its community spirit. We still have our traditional celebrations, such as the annual carnival and Victorian evening and our Christmas lights – they’re something else!


Q. How about the facilities and access? A. We have some good places to wine and dine now, such as Mezze at the White Lion and Hall and Woodhouse, while the changing of the lights on the motorway roundabout has eased our commuting time to Bristol, making it far easier and quicker. When the old train line is redeveloped and reopened, it can only serve as a bonus for our accessibility.


Q. What’s the big draw for families? A. The schools are highly regarded, and there are a lot more amenities for families in Portishead now. We offer great sports facilities throughout the area, so you’ll find people steer towards outdoor activities here. People run and cycle everywhere, and there are also numerous gyms and sports clubs.


Q. What do you think of the new homes? A. They’ve created a bit of a divide in Portishead, between the new and the old, young and the older. At Goodman and Lilley, though, we’ve found that there is great demand for both, and funnily enough those people who move into the new eventually move to the old, and surprisingly, the elderly move into the new, whether it’s through downsizing or being closer to amenities as they get older. So it works well for the area.


DAVID HOARE is the retail director of bar and restaurant chain Hall and Woodhouse, which recently opened a branch in Portishead (hall-woodhouse.co.uk)


Q. So, why choose Portishead? A. We bought the site on Chandlery Square back in 2006, when nothing on the Portishead Quays side of the Marina had been built. It was a fairly large act of faith, as Chandlery Square was surrounded by nothing but rubble as far as you could see. We had been looking for public houses in the Bristol area, and could really see how Portishead could grow and thrive as both a business and living community in its own right.


Q. What do you think of the area? A. It’s simply wonderful – the developers, Quay Marinas, the businesses, the retailers and the hospitality operators are creating an environment for Portishead residents that resembles the most sophisticated marina facilities in Europe. The locals must feel they’ve really landed on their feet. We’ve been impressed at how well


the development has weathered – Port Marine was already built when we bought our site seven years ago, and it’s now looking as good as it did then. We’ve been delighted at how welcoming people and organisations have been. There’s a relaxed warmth and charm to Portishead folk that reflects exactly the hospitality with


www.mediaclash.co.uk Clifton Life 17


personality that we’re dedicated to providing. And the views from our bar and restaurant – man oh man, what views. I could sit there all day watching the yachts being hoisted in and out of the marina, people-watching and soaking up the sun.


Q. What could be done to the area to make it even better? A. It’s simply got to be the re-opening of the Portishead to Bristol railway line. Portishead will soon be the largest town in the country without a rail link when the current house-building programme is complete. A further 8000 people are expected to settle in the area over the next few years, making Portishead the second largest town in North Somerset. The remaining old track (just 3.3 miles) still exists into Portishead and surely one day must be reopened. It’ll transform the town all over again.


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