South Gloucestershire

This article is about the area. For other uses, see South Gloucestershire (disambiguation).
South Gloucestershire
Unitary authority

Shown within Gloucestershire
Coordinates: 51°28′44″N 2°22′48″W / 51.479°N 2.380°W / 51.479; -2.380Coordinates: 51°28′44″N 2°22′48″W / 51.479°N 2.380°W / 51.479; -2.380
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South West England
Admin HQ Yate
  Type Unitary Authority
  Body South Gloucestershire Council
  Leadership (Conservative (council NOC))
  MPs Jack Lopresti (C)
Chris Skidmore (C)
Luke Hall (C)
  Total 191.87 sq mi (496.94 km2)
Area rank 92nd (of 326)
Population (mid-2014 est.)
  Total 271,556
  Rank 48th (of 326)
  Density 1,400/sq mi (550/km2)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
  Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
ONS code 00HD (ONS) E06000025 (GSS)
OS grid reference ST735757
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Avon
Ambulance South Western

South Gloucestershire is a unitary authority in South West England. It comprises multiple suburban areas to the north and east of Bristol. 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.


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 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, plus the shire county of Gloucestershire.

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 and 16 secondary schools, and post-16 centres.[6] There is one university, which was a former polytechnic, The University of the West of England. 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.

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 areas. Some of the inner green belt has been taken away by developments like the new town of Bradley Stoke.


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.

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


Whilst the Liberal Democrats held an overall majority on the council 1999-2003, it has been no overall control for the rest of its existence. 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]

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. 1 2 3 "South Gloucestershire Census Profile". South Gloucestershire Council. 12 January 2003. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  5. "Major Employers in South Gloucestershire" (PDF). South Gloucestershire Council. 1 June 2006. 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".
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