Shock U-turn by Farmfoods leaves Bristol shopping centre completely empty

The retailer previously said it had no plans to close its shop
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Farmfoods has shut its supermarket in a beleaguered shopping centre in Bristol - leaving the run-down complex completely empty and now only home to pigeons nesting within its walls.

The closure at St Catherine’s Place in Bedminster comes as a shock as the firm’s customer services manager told BristolWorld only in February that there were ‘no current plans to close our Bedminster shop’. Yesterday, the company confirmed the permanent closure, but did not wish to provide further comment.

It leaves the shopping centre with no open stores, after Iceland also shut up shop in February. Yesterday, we found the centre had become home to pigeons while the derelict area smelt of urine.

It is further bad news for the shopping centre recently dubbed the ‘saddest in Bristol’ - and there is further uncertainty over its future after developer Firmstone said an approved scheme to build 180 new flats on land in and around the centre was no longer economically viable.

Now the company has signalled its intention to turn 10 of the empty shops into flats. It written to Bristol City Council asking if it needs to submit full planning applications to convert units numbered 13 to 17, and units number 18 to 22 into apartments.

BristolWorld has attempted to contact Firmstone, which has an empty office within the shopping centre.

“It’d be nice if it was shops again,” said one person we spoke to at the centre yesterday. “But as far as hear it’s going to be flats - not very good. Not very nice to look, I mean there is pigeon mess down there. Alot of pedopel walk through to go to Windmill Hill.”

St Catherine’s Place in Bedminster is now completely empty of shops after Farmfoods closedSt Catherine’s Place in Bedminster is now completely empty of shops after Farmfoods closed
St Catherine’s Place in Bedminster is now completely empty of shops after Farmfoods closed

Another person said: “It was thriving [in the 1970s], you come down the road and hundreds of staff coming down. It’s just gone haywire. It needs regenerating. But to me flats in this street is silly.”

The area comes within the Bedminster Business Improvement District. Back in February, chairman of the group, Simon Dicken, said: “East Street is undergoing a complete transformation, with St Catherine’s Place as a central part of the development of a new residential building on that site.”

Mr Dicken said that despite some shop closures, there have been new openings in East Street from new eateries to a skateboard shop. The group was also behind the successful EAT@Bedminster which took place earlier this year.