Bristol city centre Premier Inn to be knocked down to make way for tallest building

Plans afoot for the former office block at St James Barton to be replaced with new co-living and student homes
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The Premier Inn hotel at St James Barton roundabout – next to the Bearpit – could be replaced with two high quality new contemporary buildings for co-living housing and student accommodation.

Developer Olympian Homes is seeking to transform the site, including revealing the Grade 1-listed St James’ Priory currently obscured by the hotel.

The existing 20 storey building – originally built as an office in 1972 by Avon County Council – is an extremely prominent presence in this gateway site to the city centre.

Whitbread – the parent company for Premier Inn – has four trading hotels in Bristol city centre, including at Lewins Mead which serves the same catchment.

While the Haymarket Premier Inn remains open, Whitbread has made the decision to sell the site for redevelopment given the age of the building and the cost of bringing it up to current Premier Inn brand standards.

The business is continuing to invest in Bristol city centre and is looking for new locations for Premier Inn in the Harbourside and Temple Quarter areas of the city.

Olympian Homes has appointed acclaimed architect Hodder & Partners – which has won more than 50 national design awards – to create a striking scheme for the prominent 0.3 hectare site.

Two buildings form the proposed scheme: a 28-storey student accommodation building with 445 student beds; and an 18-storey co-living building with 136 bedrooms. The 28-storey building would be the city’s tallest building.

The proposals will include a new ground floor café which would open onto both the bus/coach station and the roundabout, helping create an attractive and active public realm.

It is expected to be a low or zero car parking scheme, given its city centre location immediately adjacent to Bristol bus and coach station. Twenty per cent of the co-living homes would be affordable.

The Premier Inn at St James Barton roundabout could be developed into new flats and a ground-floor cafeThe Premier Inn at St James Barton roundabout could be developed into new flats and a ground-floor cafe
The Premier Inn at St James Barton roundabout could be developed into new flats and a ground-floor cafe

The pedestrian connection between Bearpit, St James’ Park and the bus and coach station – currently quite a hostile and unwelcoming route - would also be made safer and attractive.

The draft designs will be revealed in the coming weeks as part of the community consultation.

Richard Pearson, Development Manager for Whitbread, said: “The Premier Inn at Haymarket is at the end of its life. Though the location is great the current building does not provide the high brand standards our customers expect of us, and it needs substantial investment. We also have a much newer Premier Inn at Finzels Reach which is a short walk from the Haymarket hotel and serves the same catchment.

“Redeveloping the site presents an opportunity to realise the true potential of the gateway location for the city, whilst generating funds to reinvest in our network modern and energy efficient hotels in Bristol and elsewhere.

“The sale is part of our strategy of ensuring our hotel offer is of the highest quality and in the very best locations for our customers.”

Whitbread operates a total of four hotels in Bristol city centre and five across the Bristol city region. New Premier Inn hotels are currently under construction in Bristol Parkway and Bristol Avonmouth.