First Base and Woods Bagot Submit Plans for Soapworks, A Mixed Use District in Bristol

April 1, 2020

Mixed use developer First Base and the London studio have submitted a detailed planning application to Bristol City Council for Soapworks—a landmark site that will create a new district comprising a mix of modern workspace, new homes, a hybrid apartment-hotel, cafes, and restaurants.

Currently, the Soapworks site consists of 165,000 square feet of existing buildings within a roughly two-acre site and is located on the edge of Bristol city center, 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 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.

“As someone who grew up in Bristol, I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to help renovate and sensitively restore the Soapworks building. We are focused on bringing this iconic asset back into full public use for everyone to enjoy, for the first time in a long time, providing spaces for local artisan makers and a food hall; creating a modern vibrant and inclusive place to work and play,” London studio-based Principal Julian Cross said.

Soapworks will comprise 140,000 square feet of high-quality workspace, support more than 2,000 new jobs, and create 166 new homes (with 20 percent of them listed for affordable housing). 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 neighborhoods.

The project will deliver over £200 million of social value, which will include providing employment, apprenticeship, and training opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, 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 organizations 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.

“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,” Lucinda Mitchell, Project Director at First Base, said.