The distinctive red brick former Gardiner Haskins building stands at the centre of new £175m plans that developers say will revitalise the area.
London-based firm First Base recently acquired the historic site from the retailer that occupied it for some 60 years and intends to turn it into a mixed-use scheme that will include new homes, offices, an ‘apart-hotel’ and cafes and restaurants.
The company will be revealing the plans to members of the public on July 3 when it will be launching the first phase of consultation on the redevelopment of the 2.25-acre site, which will be known as Soapworks after the Broad Plain complex’s former use as a soap factory.
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 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.”
The grade II-listed building at the centre of the site dates back to the 1860s and was originally the home of Christopher Thomas & Brothers, manufacturers of soap and candles, before Gardiner Haskins took it on in 1958.
Ben Allen, managing director at Gardiner Haskins, said: “The site generated a very high level of interest from the developer community and we chose First Base from a very competitive field due to the quality of their proposed scheme and their outstanding track record.
“We continue to trade successfully from the adjacent site and are looking forward to working closely with First Base to realise this vision.”
Paul Smith, Bristol City Council’s cabinet member for housing, has been supportive of the plans, saying: “We look forward to working together to maximise the potential of these important buildings.
“This investment will deliver a genuine mix of homes (including affordable housing), jobs for local people and useable public spaces.”
First Base will be seeking feedback from the local community and key stakeholders over the coming weeks before running a consultation on more detailed proposals later in the year.
A series of events will be held as part of the consultation process to enable residents to view more information about the early plans, speak to members of the project team and give their thoughts.
An exhibition event is being held on Wednesday, July 3, at Gardiner Haskins’ new premises in Broad Plain, between 4pm and 8pm.
First Base will also be running an informal street stall event to display the initial proposals outside Marks & Spencer on Broadmead on Saturday, July 6 between 10am and 3pm.
Lucinda Mitchell, project director at First Base, said: “We are excited to share our initial proposals with the community for the iconic Soapworks site in Old Market.
“We are keen to hear from all residents and stakeholders and would like to encourage all interested parties to engage with our consultation.”