Bristol shopping centre to get £550m mixed-use makeover

A large shopping centre in Bristol will be demolished and replaced with a £550m mixed-use scheme, according to developers’ plans.

Proposals published by Bristol developer Deeley Freed, which is working with owners LaSalle Investment Management, reveal that The Galleries shopping centre will be knocked down to make way for offices, student accommodation and retail space.

Developers are planning to convert about one-third of the 4.8-acre site into “quality public realm” with urban green spaces, while car parking space will be reduced by 70 per cent to encourage sustainable transport.

Construction, subject to planning permission, is expected to begin in autumn 2024, with the project scheduled for completion in 2027. But the centre will remain open for “at least the next two years”.

Deeley Freed explained that changes to the way people “now live, work and shop” had influenced the redevelopment designs, which they hope will “boost” the local economy and provide a “future-proofed scheme”.

Footfall in the centre is down 35 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, according to the developer, which has led to a “greater number of vacancies” in the Bristol shopping centre, challenging its future.

Affordable housing, a hotel and restaurants will also feature on the site, which was bought by fund management company LaSalle Investment Management in 2019. Improved pedestrian links will also connect the site to the nearby Castle Park.

A spokesperson from Deeley Freed said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a world-class vibrant destination – one which will help reinvigorate Bristol’s city centre, responding positively to the changing ways we now live, work and shop.

“The proposed development would be a truly mixed-use and diverse scheme […] [which] will provide a complementary balance and range of uses that support the local community, boost the economy, address Bristol’s changing needs and priorities, and ensure it continues to provide something for everyone.

“The current centre occupies five acres of the city centre, and the intention is to convert 30 per cent of this into new quality public realm with urban greening and greater social inclusion.

“We would like to emphasise that we are at an early stage and the Galleries will remain open as usual for at least the next two years. We’d encourage people to continue to shop and support their local traders.”

A series of public consultation events will take place later this month, with the first arranged for 13 July. Application submissions will take place in early 2023.

Vivienne Kennedy, head of Broadmead Business Improvement District (BID), a group running the shopping centre, said: “Shops and shopping centres across the country have been struggling as they try to compete against online retailers and rising living costs, while at the same time trying to bounce back from the pandemic.

“The high street is constantly evolving, always trying to meet consumer needs as they too change, and we see mixed-use developments, with much more focus on the customer experience, as an excellent way to increase footfall, vibrancy and sustainability.

“We’d encourage people to get involved in the consultation as it’s in all our interests to get this important opportunity right.”

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