Revised plans submitted for comprehensive redevelopment of St Catherine’s Place, Bedminster

CGI of aerial view of St Catherine's Place showing resultant indicative scheme

Plans for the comprehensive redevelopment of St Catherine’s Place have been revised in response to local feedback and to ensure they fit the new Bedminster Green framework, which guides development for the area.

At the heart of the regeneration of Bedminster Green and the surrounding area, the proposals are for a mixed-use development with over 200 new homes, together with shops and leisure facilities, all within an attractive, high quality environment. The overall aim is to deliver a major step-change for the area, creating a focal point for the local community and stimulating the regeneration of East Street and the wider area.

In the amended proposals, the height of the tallest building has been lowered substantially from 22 storeys to 16 storeys. The overall bulk of this building has also been scaled back by removing four storeys from the rear, taking it down from 13 storeys to 9. The other four buildings in the scheme are all 8 storeys in height or under. These changes have reduced the overall number of homes being created at St Catherine’s Place from 271 to 205.

The developers have also now earmarked buildings in their amended plans for affordable homes and are in advanced negotiations with a social housing provider to deliver these, with a target of 20% of the homes in the scheme.

The other major change to the plans is the provision of land by Firmstone for a new dedicated bus lane running along Dalby Road to ensure the Council’s emerging Strategic Transport Assessment for the area can be delivered.

Firmstone has decided to alter its plans in response to local feedback to the proposals it submitted last October and in light of the new Bedminster Green Framework, which was only approved by the Council earlier this year. St Catherine’s Place is fundamental to the Framework and is needed to unlock the regeneration of both Bedminster Green and the wider area.

The heart of the regeneration of St Catherine’s Place will be around the existing shopping arcade, which is currently run-down and has several vacant units. This will be re-organised and upgraded with new shop frontages and a new central public square, together with new leisure spaces created at street level.

The developer has already secured the commitment of independent regional cinema operator Scott Cinemas to open at St Catherine’s Place and has a number of other exciting regional and local retailers lined up in principle to take space in the shopping centre, such as a gym, bakery, coffee shop, convenience food retailer, restaurant and other complimentary uses. The aim is to attract a range of new leisure uses to the area to help revitalise the existing arcade and contribute to the regeneration of the wider East Street area.

A sequence of public spaces will be established to create a new place which will encourage the community to gather and linger. The footpaths will be made wider and the edges ‘softened’ to provide better routes for pedestrians, and a safer and more attractive 24-hour public route created from East Street to Dalby Avenue. There will be extensive new cycling spaces in the development.

Francis Firmstone, director of Firmstone said: “Our proposals for the transformation of St Catherine’s Place will mark a major ‘step change’ for this area. They are critical to unlocking the regeneration of the Bedminster Green area and delivering homes that the city badly needs.

“Since we submitted our proposals last October, the new Bedminster Green Framework has been agreed and we’ve also received further feedback from local people, stakeholders and planners and so we have altered our plans to respond to these. We have worked incredibly hard to tackle the issues raised by reducing the heights and bulk of the larger building, making provision for affordable homes and providing land to enable a bus lane to be able run along the front of our development.

“This is vital ‘gateway’ site to the Bedminster Green area, and is also the catalyst for the revitalisation of East Street and indeed, the wider Bedminster area. To realise the potential of this important site, we’ve needed to focus a significant amount of our investment on overhauling the shopping centre. We will be creating an attractive central gathering place for both the immediate neighbourhood and wider local community, where people want to congregate, socialise and enjoy themselves at different times of the day and in the evening.

“Despite the fact that we’ve had to lose 66 homes from our previous proposals, our revised plans will still create over 200 badly-needed new homes in a striking set of buildings that we hope will become a positive symbol of local regeneration for the area.

“With the high street facing major challenges up and down the country, it’s really important to be able to move on the regeneration of this area as soon as possible. We’ve spent over two years developing and refining these proposals and lining up potential retailers and it’s important that we don’t lose momentum now. Our ambition is to be on site and delivering our proposals as soon as possible after we secure planning consent.”

The proposals have been informed by detailed technical assessments and consultation with Bristol City Council, other key stakeholder groups, the local community and wider public over the past two years. The scheme takes account of the needs of proposed and existing neighbouring occupiers and aims to set an exemplary standard for Bristol in terms of its overall quality and sustainability.

Catherine’s House, which forms part of the mixed-use St Catherine’s Place scheme, has already being converted into 54 apartments by Firmstone, as the first stage in their regeneration plans. The homes were built to a very high standard, priced for the local community and are now all sold and occupied.