Revealed: Plans to replace Broadwalk Shopping Centre with Wapping Wharf style flats and shops hub

Developers branded the current shopping centre ‘monolithic and hostile’

Developers hoping to transform a crumbling Bristol shopping centre into a community hub brimming with shops, homes and parkland are taking inspiration from modern projects such as Wapping Wharf as they prepare to submit the £150m plans.

The Redcatch Development Partnership said the site on which the ‘monolithic, hostile’ building that houses Broadwalk Shopping Centre stands would become ‘the heart of Knowle’ if their proposals to overhaul it into a mixed-use neighbourhood are given the green light.

At an online public consultation meeting this evening (Thursday, January 27), the group revealed plans to knock down the ‘tired’ shopping centre, retaining some of the struture, before building a series of mansion blocks housing new shops, mixed-tenure apartments, food and drink outlets and community facilities in its place.

An artist’s impression of what the new ‘mixed-use neighbourhood’ in Knowle could look like.

The centre will also be renamed ‘The Redcatch Quarter’ and feature a wheelchair-accessible walkway linking Wells Road to Redcatch Park, where people can ‘meet, dwell and relax’.

In 2019, plans by the group were approved to redevelop the shopping centre and add a residential block of 420 flats on top.

Architect Simon Coles said the new planning application had been influenced mostly by changing shopping habits, particularly a huge lapse in footfall at the shopping centre during the pandemic.

He said: “We want the Redcatch Quarter to be an attractive place for people to enjoy and cherish.

“I don’t think anyone would agree that the Broadwalk Shopping Centre is an attractive building.

“It was built in the 1970s when we were all encouraged to use our cars and the enclosed building has no respect for the fabric of the city.

Broadwalk Shopping Centre would become the Redcatch Quarter under proposals

“Shopping habits are changing and the building is outdated and unstructurally unsound.

“We understand that there is a retail need and not everyone will shop online.

“People will still go out to buy groceries and we still want to provide that within the development.

“But there’s other uses as well. One thing we have identified is that Broadwalk is a place for people to come and visit, to meet and get a coffee, perhaps they might not spend anything at all.

“It’s about providing meaning to peoples’ lives. It’s not just about shops. There’s a social need within the centre.

“A good example of something like this would be Wapping Wharf or the Harbourside - look at what those areas were like in the 1980s compared to what they are now.”

An artist’s impression of the development.

Mr Coles added that sustainability and encouraging people out of their cars in line with carbon targets was at the heart of the development, which would boast electric car charging hubs, a ‘car club’ scheme and 1,600 secure spaces for bicycles.

More than 300 questions were received during the meeting, many of them related to parking and concerns that surrounding roads would be clogged up should the development not provide enough parking spaces for shoppers and residents.

Developers said they were planning on funding a Resident Parking Zone around the site to manage any overspill parking.

Mr Coles added: “Knowle is a great location, just over a mile to Temple Meads and a 15 minute walk from Bedminster.

“We’re not in the middle of nowhere. We want to be part of reducing congestion and of course we will provide parking and disabled access, but it’s a balance we want to get right.”

Project chiefs also reassured residents that the existing library and dental practice at the site, which are well used, would be retained.

But project manager Francis Hilton said some retailers at Broadwalk were looking to vacate following the announcement of the plans.

He said: “Some retailers want to leave and some are happy to stay. But at the moment, the shops in the centre are not fit for purpose.

“The type of shops going forward will support the neighbourhood and the community.

An artist’s impression of the development.

“I don’t envision a massive shopping centre with an anchor store in the middle.

“But town centre shops will be there such as your butcher, baker and candlestick maker, for want of a better expression.

“There is an opportunity for local people to bring in independent shops as well as the potential for a larger supermarket to come into a smaller unit.”

Craig O’Brien, head of Savills in Bristol, said there was enough infrastructure to cater to new residents, such as four GPs within a one-mile radius and 15 nearby secondary schools with two more yet to be built.

Mr O’Brien added housing at the site would be mixed-tenure, with 77% rental, 23% shared ownership and 11% affordable, a figure developers are hoping to improve.

If the project is approved, it will be a while before we see any movement, with Mr Hilton revealing: “We are at least 18 months away from starting at the site.”