South Gloucestershire

South Gloucestershire is an extraordinary unitary authority area in South West England. It comprises multiple suburban areas to the north and east of Bristol as well as a large rural hinterland. South Gloucestershire was created in 1996 from the northern section of the county of Avon, which was abolished at that time.

The area includes multiple towns and population centres, with many of these areas continuing to expand in both population and industry. Many of these towns and population areas are listed under two major subheadings below.

South Gloucestershire took its title for historic reasons, but as a unitary authority it is not administered as part of the shire county of Gloucestershire. It is, however, part of the ceremonial county of Gloucestershire, which means it shares its Lord Lieutenant (the Sovereign's representative to the county) with Gloucestershire.[1] Because of its history as part of the county of Avon, South Gloucestershire works closely with the other unitary authorities that took over when that county was abolished, including shared services such as Avon Fire and Rescue Service[2] and the Avon and Somerset Constabulary,[3] together with co-operation in planning strategy for transport, roads and housing.

South Gloucestershire
Shown within Gloucestershire
Shown within Gloucestershire
Coordinates: 51°28′44″N 2°22′48″W / 51.479°N 2.380°WCoordinates: 51°28′44″N 2°22′48″W / 51.479°N 2.380°W
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth West England
Ceremonial CountyGloucestershire
Admin HQYate
 • TypeUnitary authority
 • BodySouth Gloucestershire Council
 • Leadership(Conservative)
 • MPsJack Lopresti (C)
Chris Skidmore (C)
Luke Hall (C)
 • Total191.87 sq mi (496.94 km2)
Area rank91st (of 317)
 (mid-2018 est.)
 • Total282,644
 • Rank49th (of 317)
 • Density1,500/sq mi (570/km2)
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code00HD (ONS) E06000025 (GSS)
OS grid referenceST735757
PoliceAvon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western


Prior to the implementation of the Local Government Act 1972 on 1 April 1974, the area that now forms South Gloucestershire formed part of the shire county of Gloucestershire, comprising the urban districts of Kingswood and Mangotsfield and the Rural Districts of Warmley, Sodbury and Thornbury. However, under the terms of that act, the area was removed from Gloucestershire, and became part of the county of Avon, forming the districts of Kingswood and Northavon.

In 1996, the county of Avon was abolished, and South Gloucestershire was created as a unitary authority area comprising the former districts of Kingswood and Northavon. The area borders the city and county of Bristol, the Bath and North East Somerset unitary authority area, plus the shire counties of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

The geographic area currently known as South Gloucestershire should not be confused with Southern Gloucestershire. Nor should organisations or bodies in the past titled 'South Gloucestershire', (meaning Southern Gloucestershire), be confused with the area covered by the unitary authority.


In the 2001 census, the population of South Gloucestershire was 245,641.[4] In the 2011 census, this had increased to 262,767.

According to these estimates, 97.6 percent of the population was described as white, 0.8 percent as dual heritage, 0.7 percent as Asian or Asian British, 0.4 percent as Black or Black British and 0.5 percent as Chinese or other.[4]

Much of the population is in towns that form the 'suburbs' to the north and east of Bristol. There are also the large towns of Yate and Thornbury, along with Chipping Sodbury plus the population centres of Winterbourne, and Frampton Cotterell areas.


The main employers are the local authority with 9,500 people and the Ministry of Defence Headquarters for Defence Procurement and the Naval Support Command with 7,000 employees. Other key employers include Airbus, Rolls Royce and the Royal Mail, which dominates the Filton-Patchway area of South Gloucestershire. Friends Provident and Hewlett Packard also have major offices in nearby Stoke Gifford.[5]

Many employers operate in the heavily developed area between the northern edge of Bristol and the M5 motorway, an area sometimes described as the North Fringe of Bristol. This includes the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre, comprising The Mall regional shopping centre and the surrounding retail parks. East of Patchway are the Aztec West and Almondsbury business parks either side of the A38, extending to Bradley Stoke and the M4/M5 Almondsbury Interchange. Employers with sites in this area include EE and the RAC.


South Gloucestershire is home to 99 primary schools, 16 secondary schools, and post-16 colleges and centres.[6] There is one university, the University of the West of England, which was a former polytechnic. In 2008, DCSF figures revealed that there was a 6.6% overall absence in the district's secondary schools, whilst 7.4% is the national average.[7]

Key Stage 4 results (2008)[8] 5 or more grades A*-C including English and maths GCSEs % Level 2 in functional English and maths Level 1 in functional English and maths Level 2 (5 or more grades A*-C) Level 1 (5 or more grades A*-G) 2 grades A*-C which cover the Key Stage 4 science programme of study A*C in a modern foreign language A*G in a modern foreign language At least one qualification
Local Authority average 48.1% 56.9% 92.8% 63.6% 93.0% 50.3% 30.6% 49.7% 98.0%
England average 48.1% 52.0% 90.2% 65.3% 91.6% 50.3% 30.7% 44.8% 98.6%

In 2005, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer recognised the City of Bristol's ties to science and technology by naming it one of six "science cities", and promising funding for further development of science in the city,[9] with a £300 million science park planned at Emerson's Green, which is situated in South Gloucestershire.[10]


The River Severn forms the north-western edge of the area, with a wide coastal plain terminated by an escarpment. East of this is the wide River Frome Valley drainage area. Further east is another escarpment running roughly north-south, passing between Yate and Chipping Sodbury and west of Pucklechurch. The Cotswolds Escarpment forms the eastern edge of South Gloucestershire, while the western half is mainly urbanised.

A small part of the Cotswolds and the National Trust site of Dyrham Park are also in the district. South of the motorways are suburbs of Bristol while areas north are rural. Some of the inner green belts have been taken away by developments like the new town of Bradley Stoke.


South Gloucestershire places
Map of South Gloucestershire; the blue lines are motorways.

South Gloucestershire is a major transport hub with many areas of South Gloucestershire having easy commuting access to: Bristol (A38 & M32 Roads), Bath to the east, as well as westward to South Wales and Cardiff via the two Severn bridges. Plus there is easy access to London, (M5 & M4 Motorway links), also Gloucester to the north. South Gloucestershire also has access to the major 'Avon' Ring Road. (See map for motorways).

This network of roads is of paramount importance to the industries and distribution centres in the area, as well as to the regional shopping centres - which give it a prime location.

Currently, South Gloucestershire is working with the City and County of Bristol in developing a large Metrobus system.

The area also has an important and very well used railway network, with many direct routes to towns and cities across the UK. This includes eastward to London and westward through the Severn Tunnel to Cardiff and the rest of South Wales. There are also routes down to the South-West counties and north to England's second city, Birmingham. Many routes cross in Stoke Gifford at the Bristol Parkway railway station. There are a total of six stations within the district, mainly located near the border with Bristol in the west of the district.

South Gloucestershire is home to the eastern ends of the two Severn Bridges, which are the main arterial routes by road to and from South Wales.

Mode of transport[4] South Glos % National %
Car driver 65.4 55.2
On foot 7.3 10.0
Bus or coach 6.5 7.4
Car passenger 6.3 6.3
Bicycle 3.0 2.8
Motorcycle 1.8 1.1
Train 0.6 4.1
Taxi 0.2 0.5
Other 0.3 0.5
Work from home 8.5 9.2

Major Towns of South Gloucestershire, and their population

Other towns and villages

Places of interest


The Conservatives have held an overall majority on the council since 2015, with the only other majority being held by the Liberal Democrats from 1999-2003. In 2012, it became one of the first authorities in the UK to return to a Committee System, abolishing the single party Cabinet, as allowed under the Localism Act.[11] This was later reverted back to a leader and cabinet system in 2017 during the Conservative majority, a move which was criticised by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors.[12]

Under the Boundary Commission proposals, which took effect at the 2010 general election, the authority has been divided between three new constituencies, all lying within the authority boundary. These are:

County/Borough is a legal term denoting the type of constituency. County is a rural area, Borough is an urban area.


  1. ^ "Schedule 1: Counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies in Great Britain". Lieutenancies Act 1997. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  2. ^ "About us". Avon Fire & Rescue. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. ^ "History of the Force". Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "South Gloucestershire Census Profile". South Gloucestershire Council. 12 January 2003. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Major Employers in South Gloucestershire" (PDF). South Gloucestershire Council. 1 June 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  6. ^ "UK Schools & Colleges Database". Schools Web Directory. 20 April 2009.
  7. ^ "Local Authority : South Gloucestershire". DCSF. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  8. ^ "Local Authority: South Gloucestershire". DCSF. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  9. ^ "Vice-Chancellor's speeches and articles". University of Bristol. 11 November 2005. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  10. ^ "City science park partner named". BBC News. 20 April 2006. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  11. ^ South Glos Council. "South Gloucestershire adopts committee system".
  12. ^ Sims, Aaron (23 March 2017). "Conservative-led South Gloucestershire Council votes to adopt executive cabinet structure". Retrieved 20 May 2019.

External links

1999 South Gloucestershire Council election

The 1999 South Gloucestershire Council election took place on 6 May 1999 to elect members of South Gloucestershire unitary authority in England. All 70 seats in the council were up for election and the Liberal Democrats gained overall control of the council from no overall control.

2003 South Gloucestershire Council election

The 2003 South Gloucestershire Council election took place on 6 May 1999 to elect members of South Gloucestershire unitary authority in England. All 70 seats in the council were up for election. The Liberal Democrats once again gained a plurality of seats but lost overall control of the council as the Conservatives won the most votes and therefore made large gains at the expense of the Lib Dems and Labour.

2011 South Gloucestershire Council election

The 2011 South Gloucestershire Council election took place on 5 May 2011 to elect members of South Gloucestershire unitary authority in England.

2015 South Gloucestershire Council election

The 2015 South Gloucestershire Council election took place on 7 May 2015 to elect members of South Gloucestershire Council in England as part of nationwide local elections.For the first time since the creation of South Gloucestershire, the Conservatives took an overall majority with 40 of the 70 seats. This was the second one-party majority in the history of South Gloucestershire, after the Lib Dems' 1999-2003 control.

61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot

The 61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army, raised in 1756. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot to form the Gloucestershire Regiment in 1881.

Chipping Sodbury

Chipping Sodbury is a market town in the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire, south-west England, founded in the 12th century by William Crassus (or le Gros). It is the principal settlement in the civil parish of Sodbury, which also includes the village of Old Sodbury. Little Sodbury is a nearby but separate civil parish. Sodbury parish council has elected to be known as Sodbury Town Council. At the 2001 census the population of Chipping Sodbury was 5,066, but in the last decade the town has become part of a much larger built-up area due to the rapid expansion of nearby Yate, with which it is contiguous to the west. At the census the combined population of Yate and Chipping Sodbury was 26,855.


Conham is a suburb of the city of Bristol in England. It lies near Hanham on the north bank of the River Avon just outside the city boundaries in South Gloucestershire.

The Conham Ferry is a small passenger ferry which operates across the river from Conham to Broomhill.The Conham River Park lies in a loop of the River Avon, and forms part of the Avon Valley Woodlands.

Downend, South Gloucestershire

Downend is an affluent residential outer suburb of Bristol in Gloucestershire, England, the housing stock is typically terraced Victorian, 1930s and 1950s semi-detached and detached. It is in the South Gloucestershire local district, located to the northeast of Bristol and bordered by the Bristol City suburb of Fishponds, and the South Gloucestershire suburbs of Staple Hill, Frenchay, Mangotsfield, and Emersons Green.

Downend forms, with the suburb of Bromley Heath, the civil parish of Downend and Bromley Heath, created in 2003.

Kingswood, South Gloucestershire

Kingswood is a suburban area in South Gloucestershire, England, on the eastern border of the City of Bristol. The suburb is situated 3.4 miles (5.5 km) east-northeast of Bristol City Centre and 102 miles (164 km) west of London.

Longwell Green

Longwell Green is a suburb just outside the east fringe of Bristol. It is located within the traditional county of Gloucestershire and the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire (previously Avon). It lies along the A431 Bath Road, near the River Avon at grid reference ST658710. Population (2011 census) was 6761.Longwell Green Sports F.C., is the local football club.

Next to the A4174 are retail and leisure parks.

There is a primary school, and Community Centre.


Oldbury-on-Severn is a small village near the mouth of the River Severn in South Gloucestershire. The village population at the 2011 census was 780.

It is home to the nearby Oldbury nuclear power station, a Magnox power station which opened in 1967 and ceased operation on 29 February 2012.

The area has been considered for nuclear 'new build' totalling some 3000MWe of capacity – either two or three PWRs. This would be more than the river flow could provide cooling for and so natural-draught cooling towers with a possible height of 200m have been postulated as necessary (- the existing station is 54m high).

Village attractions include a footpath near the river, a pub known as the Anchor Inn plus the village hall and two churches. It is also the home of Thornbury Sailing Club.

The parish church is dedicated to St Arilda, a local saint and martyr whose origins may lie in the fourth or fifth century. The church is on a small hill (35m asl at ST609919) and is an excellent viewpoint, and, for river travellers, waymark.


Soundwell is a suburb of Bristol, England in South Gloucestershire. It is situated between Kingswood and Staple Hill.

Located centrally in the parish is St. Stephen's Anglican Church and St. Stephen's CofE junior school with approximately 300 pupils. The original St. Stephen's infants school was closed and demolished several years ago to allow for expansion of Soundwell College. Soundwell College was a college of further education, now merged with the City of Bristol College, which maintains a centre in the locality.Soundwell was the home of Soundwell F.C.. in the 1940s and 1950s. The current team, Soundwell Victoria, plays in the Bristol and District League. The team play home games at the Star Ground behind Kingswood Leisure Centre, formerly known as Soundwell Swimming Baths before it was developed. The Star Ground was named after the Pub next to the Leisure Centre, although the pub has since been renamed "The Turnpike".

Soundwell and surrounding areas were also coal-mining communities in days gone past and also were well known for shoe and boot manufacturing.

The name appears to be derived from Old English sund, meaning "healthy". There was once a healing well in the vicinity.

South Gloucestershire Council

South Gloucestershire Council is the local authority of South Gloucestershire, a unitary authority in the South West of England region. As a unitary authority it has the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. As such, it is administratively separate from the rest of Gloucestershire.

The council area elects 70 Councillors from 35 wards. Following the May 2015 local elections, South Gloucestershire Council comprises 40 Conservative Councillors, 16 Liberal Democrat Councillors, and 14 Labour Councillors. The current Chair of South Gloucestershire Council is Ian Blair (Liberal Democrat) and the current Vice Chair is Rachael Hunt (Conservative).

From 2019 onwards, South Gloucestershire Council will have revised ward boundaries following the enacted recommendations of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. South Gloucestershire will be represented by 61 councillors (9 fewer than at present) in 28 wards and those councillors will represent 9 three-councillor wards, 15 two-councillor wards and 4 one-councillor wards.

South Gloucestershire Council elections

South Gloucestershire is a unitary authority in Gloucestershire, England. It was created on 1 April 1996 replacing Kingswood, Northavon and Avon County Council.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College

This article is about South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) made up of the former Filton and Stroud colleges.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, also known as SGS College, is a college of further education and higher education based in South Gloucestershire and Stroud, England. It was established in February 2012 following the merger of Filton College and Stroud College. The college is made up of five campuses located in and around North Bristol and Stroud.

Staple Hill, Gloucestershire

Staple Hill is a suburb of Bristol, England, lying outside the city boundary in South Gloucestershire. It is directly east of Fishponds, south of Downend, west of Mangotsfield and north of Soundwell.

Stoke Brook

Stoke Brook is a small brook in South Gloucestershire, England. It gives its name to the settlements of Stoke Gifford, Harry Stoke, Little Stoke, Great Stoke, Stoke Lodge and Bradley Stoke.

The area around the brook was built up greatly during the 20th Century, as the villages of Stoke Gifford and the surrounding area met the northern edge of Bristol. Hence the number of villages and estates bearing the name.


Warmley is a village in Gloucestershire, England.Warmley is situated in between Bristol and Bath. It is a parish, with its own church, and has some minor landmarks, such as a World War One memorial the focus of Remembrance Services, and a statue of Neptune. It has a main lane, the High Street, having a Tesco and a Post Office, as well as a barber's, and bicycle shops.

The War Memorial bears the names of the parishioners who fell in the Great War.


Willsbridge is a village in the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire, England, located on the outskirts of Bristol. Willsbridge Castle, situated on a prominent hillside site, was built around 1730, with crenellations added in the nineteenth century.

The village contains a nature reserve, Willsbridge Mill, run by the Avon Wildlife Trust and the site of an abandoned watermill on the Siston Brook, which acts as an Education and Countryside Centre. Willsbridge Mill and Valley are leased from South Gloucestershire Council.

The valley contains many habitats. The woodlands have carpets of Common Bluebells, champions and resound with birdsong. The ponds are homes for frogs, toads and dragonflies, and dippers and kingfishers visit the stream. Foxes and badgers live in the valley and noctule and Greater Horseshoe Bat feed on the insects in the valley.

Unitary authorities
Boroughs or districts
Major settlements
Unitary authorities
Local elections
Places in South Gloucestershire


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