Knowle residents react to Broadwalk Shopping Centre redevelopment plans

A petition against the proposed plans has already garnered over 750 signatures

Shoppers and residents have reacted to proposals for a homes-led revelopment of Broadwalk Shopping Centre in Knowle. A petition against the height and density of the planned towerblocks has already attracted more than 750 signatures.

The planning application has been submitted by Redcatch Development Partnership to demolish the 1970s-built shopping centre and replace it with around 800 flats, a cinema, a small supermarket, restaurant, library and dentist surgery.

Knowle Neighbourhood Planning Group, which has started a petition called Knowle Deserves Better - Stop the Broadwalk Towerblocks is unhappy about the size of the proposed tower blocks and claims it will have fewer community facilities and smaller shops.

The scheme would be spread across several tower blocks, with the highest being 12 storeys tall, and would bring 2,000 new residents to Knowle, says the petition group.

Bristol World spoke to shoppers at Broadwalk Shopping Centre about the proposal.

Mike Paisley, 75, from Knowle, visits Broadwalk Shopping Centre most weeks. He said: “Like most people, I come up here to shop at B&M and Poundland, but a lot of locals just use the bingo hall on the lower level.

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Mike Paisley is a regular at Broadwalk Shopping Centre

“It would be a shame to lose these shops, and also Iceland because the only other Iceland shop is in Bedminster and I can’t get down there.”

Raymond Jones, 89, has lived in Knowle most of his life. He said: “I’m 90 soon so I don’t care what they do as I’ll probably be gone anyway but I don’t like the idea.

“How are the doctors going to cope with all those extra people living here and why open a cinema - who goes to the cinema these days?”

Broadwalk shoppers Maureen Davis and Raymond Jones

Maureen Davis worked at the shopping centre for more than 25 years. She said: “We need a decent supermarket for the older people, that’s what we need.

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“I come here for Iceland, B&M and Poundland but there used to be a gateway supermarket, a jewellers and a big Martin’s newsagent and record store. It used to be really busy.”

Pauline Kinloch, from Knowle Park, has been shopping at Broadwalk for 30 years. Her daughter, Zoe, 20, works in Poundland in the shopping centre.

Zoe said: “The building does need sorting out but knocking it down isn’t right for the community. This is the nearest shopping place for everyone in this area.

“A cinema here would be nice but I don’t know if I would go to it because it’s expensive - the last time I went to see a film it cost about £20 for my ticket and snack. It’s not what we need around here.

“This area will not cope with 2,000 more people living here - we have to wait three or four weeks for a doctor’s appointment as it is. The area doesn’t need more people and the schools are overpopulated around here, too.

“They should just use the building they’ve got and build flats somewhere else, there are plenty of other areas. They just need to fix the floors and air conditioning - you don’t need to knock it down, it’s the heart of this area.”

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Shopper Zoe Kinloch also works at Broadwalk Shopping Centre

Zoe also said the promise of a small amount of ‘affordable’ housing at the proposed development wasn’t going to change her opinion.

“How can people on minimum wage afford a flat? I’m still living at home with my parents because of the cost of rental properties in Bristol and so is my 25-year-old sister and her baby - there are three generations living in our house.

“We can’t afford to rent on top of council tax and energy and food bills. I know lots of people who have been evicted because they fell behind with the rent as they had to pay high energy bills. We’re all working as hard as we can just to pay bills.”

Walking around Broadwalk, there are obvious signs that the 1970s shopping centre has seen better days.

Broadwalk trader Will Appleby in his butchers and greengrocers shop

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Outside M.W. Fresh Foods, a butchers and greengrocers shop close to B&M, the pillars are damaged as a result of leaks.

M.W. Fresh Food owner Will Appleby has run the shop since 2000 and he describes the state of business as ‘terrible, shocking’.

He said: “You have a national problem of high streets dying because more people are ordering online and having it delivered to the door, even meat and vegetables.

“Since the pandemic, business has dwindled. They’ve also cut local buses to Broadwalk, which people from Brislington, Knowle, Withywood and Hartcliffe used to catch here.”

Will is in favour of the proposals to redevelop the site, which he points out is in an area that has changed a lot in the past 20 years.

“It needs to be done, the place is knackered, it’s falling apart. You just have to look at those pillars, nothing’s been repaired and there’s lots of leaks.

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“This area is changing a lot - five minutes from here and there are houses selling for £850,000 to a £1m around Wells Road.

People say the 2,000 people who might live in the new flats will impact on local services but the doctors surgeries told the developers they could cope.”

So would Will take up the offer of a unit in the new-look development?

“Meat is becoming a luxury, as is butter and vegetable prices are going up too. People have this pot of money for their weekly food shop and they don’t want to spend more.

“People are also lazy so they are happy to buy their food online and have it delivered to the door now.

“If I wanted a unit, they would offer me one but with my age, and the way the high street is, plus the rising costs of rent, I’m not sure to be honest.”

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