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A 79-Metre Viewing Pod Over Bristol Harbourside Could Be Coming To The City

By Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd

arc bristol in millennium square

The pod will offer incredible views of Bristol and beyond.

A 79-metre viewing pod at Bristol museum We The Curious has been approved unanimously by councillors against officers’ advice to refuse. All eight members of Bristol City Council’s development control committee voted last night (Thursday, April 15) to grant permission for the controversial moving observation Arc despite objections from Historic England that it would ruin views of the cathedral.

The unique tourist attraction will take up to 42 passengers on a 20-minute “flight” up to 67 metres above Bristol via a pivot moored in Anchor Square, although the top of the structure will be 12 metres higher than the cabin itself. It will be solar-powered, move at 5mph, operate up to 18 hours a day, attract between 250,000 and 330,000 visitors a year and boost the local economy by £13.3m, with about 10 per cent of trips given for free or subsidised to people from deprived areas.

Nick Stubbs, Arc’s inventor, wanted to find a way for people to view any beautiful location from above, without constructing something permanent like a tower or wheel that would always impact the skyline. So his solution was to design an elegant capsule which can be positioned at the exact coordinates to give visitors the best view of a city – without spoiling that city.

Reactions to the construction of this viewing pod have been very mixed, with some seeing it like the natural historic movement of masts and sails in the harbour. However, others think it would be detrimental to the skyline and cause visual harm to heritage assets, including the Grade I-listed cathedral, Grade II*-listed abbey buildings alongside it and three conservation areas.

With planning permission now approved, the Bristol Arc is expected to become a reality in 2024.

[Featured Image: Arc, We The Curious]

Read more: Here’s A Sneak Peek At What Bristol’s New Underground Map Could Look Like