AEW to give Bristol’s former Debenhams the resi treatment

Bristol City Council is to give AEW the go-ahead for a project to transform what was one of the city’s most prominent department stores into a rented-residential led mixed-use development.

The council has passed a resolution to grant planning permission to transform the former Debenhams department store on the edge of Bristol’s Broadmead shopping district into 500 new rental homes of which 100 are to be affordable. The project, designed by AWW Architects, will also create a new pedestrianised, tree-lined street through the site, providing retail and hospitality space at ground level, with 10% of the retail available to local independent businesses at discounted rents.

AEW said the proposals will also reinstate the medieval Barr’s Street, which was lost when the Debenhams store was constructed in the 1950s. The scheme will also connect Broadmead to the Bearpit, a large pedestrianised traffic island which has become a city landmark.

Sustainability features will include the installation of a total of 400 sq m of solar panels, as well as air source heat pumps. The project will also be connected to the Bristol Heat Network and will be fully electric.

“This is an important new landmark scheme for Bristol, providing much needed private and affordable housing,” said AEW portfolio manager Charles Royle, who added that the project is “a huge step forward” in the regeneration of the site and the wider Broadmead area. 

AEW’s value-add Urban Real Estate Fund acquired the property in 2022. Its strategy is repositioning underutilised retail spaces to support the regeneration of town centres.  AEW has recently fully committed the £171 million of equity raised on behalf of the fund across 11 investments.

Savills advised AEW.