Former Soapworks Building: April 2020 update

The developer, First Base, has applied for planning permission – ref: 20/01150/F. Pre-application, the Society and the Old Market Community Association said they supported redevelopment but objected to the loss of the interior of the former Gardiner Haskins Warehouse on Straight Street and the construction of a 20-floor above ground, block of flats on the corner of Old Bread Street and the New Kingsland Road. The planning application is little different from the plans that the developer presented in 2019.

The Society’s response to the planning application said,

We strongly support the redevelopment of the site. There is much in the proposed scheme that we welcome.

  • The change of uses.
  • The restoration and reuse of the listed Soapworks Building.
  • New footpaths through the site square that link to a new square and arcade.
  • The replacement of some buildings with new buildings of a contemporary design.
  • The use of coloured brick that refers to the 19th century, Bristol Byzantine tradition.

The Society regrets that it cannot support the scheme because:

  • The demolition of the listed Grade II Straight Street warehouse, save for their retained facade, would substantially harm the significance of the designated heritage asset. The Society would support a proposal that retains, repairs, and re-uses this building in a conservation-led approach. We referred to the successful reuse of the Paintworks former industrial buildings.
  • A two-floor extension above the Straight warehouse would unbalance the elevation’s careful proportions and overbear the setting of the listed buildings in the ‘pocket park’ character area of Broad Plain.
  • The unresolved scale and massing of the 20-floor back-of-pavement building mass on the Old Bread Street New Kingsley Road corner is an over-intense development. The ‘maximised’ development approach to the site fails to deliver successful placemaking or liveability.

John Frenkel

The Civic Society’s November 2019 comments and the Society’s full response.

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