Bristol City Council has resolved to grant planning permission and listed building consent to mixed-used developer First Base for the £175 million regeneration of the Soapworks site, which will drive Bristol’s economic recovery from Covid-19 by delivering a mix of modern workspace, new homes and a new retail and food offer close to the city centre.
The new district will comprise two new buildings alongside the sensitive restoration of the Grade II listed Soapworks building, originally a soap factory dating back to the 1860s, set within an enhanced public realm.
The scheme will deliver 140,000 sq ft of flexible workspace to meet demand in the city centre where availability has been squeezed over the past twelve months, as corporates shift to a hub and spoke office model and increase their footprint in key regional cities.
Soapworks will also deliver up to 243 new Build-to-Rent homes (with 20% affordable) and create space for independent retail and a vibrant food and drink offer, including Bristol’s first purpose-built food hall.
The development, which has been masterplanned by Woods Bagot, will be set around a new public square including biodiverse green spaces, and will create new pedestrian and cycle routes to the city’s commercial centre at Temple Quay and the cultural quarter at Old Market.
Lucinda Mitchell, Project Director at First Base, said: “We are excited to move forward with the regeneration of the Soapworks site, which will restore one of Bristol’s landmark buildings and create a new green mixed-use district in the heart of the city.
“The scheme will help drive Bristol’s economic recovery from Covid-19 by delivering the modern flexible workspace needed in the city, where demand in the past twelve months has been strong as corporates shift to a decentralised ‘hub and spoke’ office model.
“Soapworks will be a live, work, play neighbourhood, with high quality homes and a new ecology of independent retailers, food operators and cafes, as well as cultural uses, to attract and retain talent in the city centre.
“We are already seeing strong demand for the workspace and homes and look forward to working with Bristol City Council and the local community to deliver this exciting project.”
Soapworks will support Bristol’s One City Plan and Climate Strategy by re-vitalising an underused brownfield site, supporting active travel and utilising 100% renewable energy.
The project will deliver over £200 million of social value including employment, apprenticeship and training opportunities for local people. First Base has also committed to the Bristol Property Inclusion Charter, which pledges to support women, LGBT+, BAME and other groups under-represented in the construction sector.