First Base to advance £175m mixed-use district in Bristol

First Base have acquired Soapworks, a landmark site in Bristol, and will work with Bristol City Council to create a new £175 million district comprising a mix of modern workspace, new homes, an apart-hotel, cafes and restaurants.

Soapworks, which consists of 165,000 sq ft of existing buildings within a 2.25-acre site, 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.

The principal building, which is Grade II listed, dates back to the 1860s and was originally the home of Christopher Thomas & Brothers, manufacturers of soap and candles.  The site was acquired by Gardiner Haskins, Bristol’s largest independent department store, in 1958 and has served as a showroom for its range of homeware.

First Base has acquired the freehold of the site from Gardiner Haskins for an undisclosed sum.  The retailer has relocated to a smaller showroom close to its previous premises.

Barry Jessup, Director at First Base said: ‘Soapworks has a rich history and has been at the heart of Bristol’s economy for generations.  Our vision is to revitalise the area creating a mix of modern workspace, homes and amenities which respond to the local need and Bristol’s emergence as a popular destination for business and leisure travellers.  This is a rare opportunity to create a new district in one of the UK’s most dynamic cities and we look forward to working with Bristol City Council and the local community to develop our plans.’

Bristol City Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Paul Smith, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome developers First Base to Bristol and we look forward to working together to maximise the potential of these important buildings.  Their investment in the city will deliver a genuine mix of homes, including affordable housing, jobs for local people and useable public spaces.

Soapworks will be First Base’s first project in the South West. The company is currently advancing a number of urban regeneration schemes in the 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.