New plans submitted for residential-led redevelopment of St Catherine’s Place Bedminster

Firmstone Bedminster

New plans to kick start the long-awaited regeneration of East Street, Bedminster and deliver 180 new homes have been submitted to Bristol City Council for approval.

St Catherine’s Place Shopping Centre and its East Street home have long been in need of refurbishment and investment but proposals for a full-scale mixed-use redevelopment of the site, along with 205 new homes, were rejected in January this year.

Since then, Bedminster-based owner and developer Firmstone has worked with a new team of Bristol architects and planning consultants along with local stakeholders to design and develop new proposals that directly address the concerns of planners and a group of local residents.

The new proposals will deliver 180 new homes, newly-refurbished retail units on East Street and increased public open space including a new, landscaped walking and cycling route through from Dalby Road to Mill Lane.

Designed by Bristol architects Stride Treglown, the development will offer one, two and three-bedroom homes in three new buildings on the site, including a 14-floor building on the corner of Dalby Avenue. This is three storeys lower than the previously proposed building, smaller in footprint and set further back from the road. The height of the adjacent building to the rear is also stepped down to match the level of the existing Catherine’s House.

The new pedestrian Mill Lane Greenway will reinstate a historic route through the site. Designed to celebrate the area’s industrial heritage, it will include planting, cobble stones and historic mill stones recovered during archaeological investigations on site.

The revised scheme will offer larger areas of public open space including a new pocket park on Mill Lane, providing accessible green space to rest, play and socialise. There will be increased private amenity space for the new homes including a new courtyard garden.

A new public entrance into St Catherine’s Place will be created. The East Street shops will be replaced with new, modern shops and the historic façade refurbished or rebuilt, breathing new life into the area and marking the start of the area’s retail revival, particularly given the increased footfall to and from the new development.

Once this first phase is complete, Firmstone will continue with the Mill Lane and Dalby Avenue buildings whilst refurbishing the retail units inside the shopping centre. Outline planning permission is also being sought to potentially convert the redundant vacant retail units in the centre of the site for alternative uses including residential in the longer term, should retail demand continue to decline. This will ensure any additional homes are effectively integrated in the wider design and regeneration.

Bedminster BID, which represents 350 local businesses, has also expressed its strong support for the proposals

Simon Dicken, chair of Bedminster Business Improvement District (BID) said: “The long-awaited redevelopment of St Catherine’s Place is crucial to the wider regeneration of East Street and Bedminster. These proposals will help make this a thriving, vibrant shopping and leisure area once more, close to the city centre and serving the local community.

“As well as rebuilding or refurbishing the East Street shops and shopping centre entrance, the scheme will also deliver much-needed new homes and bring additional footfall to Bedminster’s businesses. The new Mill Lane Greenway is a really exciting way to better connect East Street with the wider area, and along with the pocket park, will encourage people to spend time here.”

Francis Firmstone, director of Firmstone said: “Bedminster is a hugely popular, vibrant and exciting area of Bristol but it is in dire need of new homes and investment. Within walking distance of the city centre and home to a diverse community of residents and businesses, it is an important gateway to the wider Bedminster Green area, long earmarked for regeneration and development.

“Our proposals for 180 much-needed and thoughtfully-designed new homes, along with the development’s newly-refurbished retail units and shopping centre entrance, will help return East Street to its former glory, making it a thriving area for shopping, leisure and hospitality as we have seen on nearby North Street.

“We are very grateful to residents from the local area who have helped us to shape these new proposals. We have significantly reduced the height of the tallest building, moved it back from the road and added lots more public green space including a pocket park and courtyard garden. We’re particularly excited about the newly-revived Mill Lane Greenway which will create an attractive, landscaped traffic-free route through the development connecting East Street with the wider Bedminster Green area and further increasing footfall.”

The proposed scheme is in line with the parameters set out in the Bedminster Green Framework which was supported by Bristol City Council’s Cabinet in March 2019 and identifies St Catherine’s Place as a site for new homes, including a tall building, to help solve Bristol’s housing shortage.