Barings to develop major mixed-use scheme in Bristol

Investment manager Barings has acquired a major mixed-use development in Bristol on behalf of a retained client and will work with mixed-use developer, Socius, to deliver the scheme.

Soapworks, which has a gross development value of £215 million, will create a new district in Bristol’s centre close to the city’s main train station. The project, which will be built within a new public square, will comprise two new buildings beside a listed former soap factory dating from the 1860s.

The scheme has planning consent for 154,000 sq ft (14,300 sq m) of flexible office accommodation, 243 build-to-rent (BTR) apartments, as well as 18,800 sq ft (1,746 sq m) of ground floor retail, hospitality and leisure space.

The former Soapworks building will accommodate 18,000 sq ft (1,672 sq m) of the office space and the remaining 136,000 sq ft (12,635 sq m) will be contained in a new building which will aim to address the shortage of modern, sustainable workspace in the city – current office availability amounts to 106,000 sq ft (9,848 sq m) which is less than half the five-year average.

Social value of project calculated

Barings said that 20% of the apartments will be let on affordable tenures. A BREEAM Outstanding rating will be sought for the offices which will also target net-zero carbon in operation. According to independent consultant Social Value Portal, the development is expected to deliver up to £200 million of social value, an additional 513 new net additional full time equivalent jobs within the Bristol economy, and £35 million per year of gross value-added contributed to the Bristol economy relating to new employment uses.

Socius conceived the scheme and secured planning consent and will be retained as development manager.

“Working alongside Socius, we’re working to retain as much of the original buildings as possible, and thus the embodied carbon, so that we can create a first-class destination with as little environmental impact as possible,” said Barings managing director and head of UK real estate transactions Darren Hutchinson.

Colliers and Ashurst acted for Barings, and Savills and DWF acted for the vendor.