Huge setback for UK’s ‘saddest shopping centre’ in Bristol with revamp now ‘unviable’

‘The retail landscape has changed with a move away from High Street shopping’
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Plans to rejuvenate a rundown shopping precinct in Bedminster dubbed ‘the saddest in the country’ have hit the rocks as developers admit plans are unviable.

Developer, Firmstone was granted permission to build three apartment blocks in 2021, promising to regenerate the ‘neglected area’ of East Street “by building new homes, creating vibrant new spaces and frontages”. The plans also included 180 homes to be built on the land.

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And just earlier this week, Firmstone and its partner company, FC1, said that St Catherine’s Place would play a key role in the regeneration of Bedminster.

However, this morning (April 14), the companies told the BBC that they were disappointed larger plans in 2020 for the site were refused - and that the subsequent approved plans in 2021 were for a “more modest and less economically viable scheme”.

They added that parts of the site had now been sold and it was “considering all options for the remaining site which includes the vacant retail centre”. They then added: “In last couple of years, compounded by the pandemic, the retail landscape has changed with a move away from High Street shopping”.

In the meantime, the centre has suffered. In February, BristolWorld revealed that the Iceland store in St Catherine’s Place would close its doors leaving one store, Farm Foods.

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During our visit to the centre earlier this year, BristolWorld spoke with shoppers and residents who described St Catherine’s Place as a ‘ghost town’. The dire situation has only compounded by several building sites surrounding the area which made it harder to spot the temporary bus stops to bring shoppers to and from the south Bristol shopping site - although the chair of Bedminster BID said many traditional businesses in East Street were still going strong.

But it now seems that the St Catherine’s Place plans to breathe new life into the area are set to be scrapped due to a change in shopping habits and other difficulties which have impacted the sector since the Covid pandemic.

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