Old Market mixed-use scheme gets green light from council after developer increases homes by 50%

April 30, 2021

The £175m Soapworks development in Old Market – which will regenerate the former Gardiner Haskins department store site – is to go ahead after its developer increased the number of homes by nearly 50%.

As reported by Bristol Business News last week, First Base was initially refused planning consent for the scheme by Bristol City Council over its provision of housing. 

But after increasing it to 243 homes, the scheme has now received the green light, bringing a mix of modern workspace, affordable homes and a vibrant food and drink offer to Old Market – the area on the edge of the city centre currently undergoing a major regeneration.

The development, which has been masterplanned by Australian architects 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.

The Grade II listed former soap factory, dating back to the 1860s, will be brought back to life with a sensitive restoration, alongside two new buildings, a public square and new pedestrian routes.

The doors of the former Gardiner Haskins warehouse will again re-open to the public, providing a vibrant independent food and drink offer, including Bristol’s first purpose-built food hall.

As well as the 243 much-needed sustainable and affordable homes, the scheme will have flexible and future-proofed workspace to meet spiralling demand in the city centre.

First Base said vacancy levels have been squeezed over the past 12 months as businesses shift to a hub-and-spoke office model.

First Base project director Lucinda Mitchell said: “We are delighted our plans to bring the Soapworks back to life have been granted by Bristol City Council. These proposals will help drive Bristol’s inclusive and sustainable recovery by delivering the new homes and modern flexible workspace needed in the city.

“Soapworks will be a live, work, play neighbourhood, with supporting people and planet with 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 create £200mi of social value, according to First Base, 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.

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