First Base submit plans for Soapworks, a £175 million mixed-use district in Bristol
  • Soapworks

A detailed planning application has been submitted to Bristol City Council for Soapworks, a £175 million development comprising a mix of modern workspace, new homes, an apart-hotel, cafes and restaurants.

The Soapworks site currently consists of 165,000 sq ft of existing buildings within a 2.25-acre site, and is located on the edge of Bristol city centre, close to Bristol Temple Meads station and between the city’s business district at Temple Quay and cultural quarter at Old Market.

First Base is proposing to transform the site into a mixed-use development, masterplanned and designed by Woods Bagot, that will celebrate Bristol’s industrial past and creative culture. The plans include two new buildings, alongside the sensitive restoration of the Grade II listed Soapworks building – originally a soap factory dating back to the 1860s and more recently a showroom for Gardiner Haskins, one of the UK’s largest independent department stores.

The project will deliver over £200 million of social value, which will include providing employment, apprenticeship and training opportunities for people from disadvantaged background, promoting opportunities for under-represented groups in construction such as women, LGBT+ and BAME through its commitment to the Bristol Property Inclusion Charter. In addition, the project will support local businesses by sharing resources and providing professional advice, work with local community organisations and charities to support people with local health and wellbeing initiatives, enhance the local environment such as improvements to local parks or allotments and promote ethical procurement policies.

Soapworks will comprise 140,000 sq ft of high-quality workspace, support more than 2,000 new jobs and create 166 new homes (with 20% of these affordable). It will also deliver Bristol’s first purpose-built food hall with space for established restaurants, pop-ups and market stalls. New pedestrian and cycle links will also be established providing improved connections to the station and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Lucinda Mitchell, Project Director at First Base, said: “Our plans for Soapworks will reinvigorate a site that has been at the heart of Bristol’s economy for generations delivering a mix of high-quality workspace, new homes and social spaces; helping to retain talent in the city and strengthen the Bristol economy. Regeneration is more than just buildings and that is why in these extraordinary times, we are also focused on supporting the local community where we can with assistance and advice as appropriate.”

Soapworks is First Base’s first project in the South West. The company is currently advancing a number of urban regeneration schemes in UK town centres including a 50:50 Joint Venture with London Borough of Havering to deliver up to 1,000 homes, workspace and community uses in Romford, and the development of Edward Street Quarter in Brighton which will provide 170,000 sq ft of creative workspace and new homes.