Local businesses endorse plans for St Catherine’s Place shopping centre

A £5m transformation fund will unlock East Street’s ‘unrealised potential’, chairman of the Bedminster Business Improvement District has said

A £5m revamp of St Catherine’s Place shopping centre has been welcomed by local businesses after it was revealed a new three-screen cinema will open on the site.  

The chairman of the Bedminster Business Improvement District (BID, which represents over 350 local independent traders, said the new multimillion fund will “mark the start of an exciting evolution for Bedminster and the surrounding area”. 

The dilapidated shopping arcade – which has several vacant units – will be transformed with a redesigned public square and brand-new shopping and leisure facilities, including a new cinema, gym and café-bar.

Independent Scott Cinemas, which owns Orpheus Cinema in Henleaze, is set to open a £3m three-screen cinema at the refurbished site, and award-winning bakery Bristol Loaf, which runs a café bakery in Redfield, is in discussions about opening a second outlet in the East Street arcade. 

A Bristol-based coffee shop chain, a locally owned delicatessen and a well-known gym operator are also set to announce outlets at the
St Catherine’s Place shopping centre soon. 

Over 200 new homes are opening in phases at the site, which is set to have one of the tallest residential towers in the city. The development was scaled down in line with the new Bedminster Green framework after concerns were raised by local residents.

After the announcement to downscale in September, Francis Firmstone, director of development company Firmstone, said: “We have worked incredibly hard to tackle the issues raised by reducing the height and bulk of the larger building, making provision for affordable homes and providing land to enable a bus lane to be able run along the front of our development.”

In total, Firmstone plans to invest around £50m – including the £5m arcade and £3m cinema – in revitalising the run-down corner of south Bristol. 

Simon Dicken, chairman of the Bedminster BID, said: “Firmstone’s £5m plans promise a new lease of life to both businesses and the community along with vital new homes which the council would freely acknowledge are needed in a central location in Bristol to ensure sustainability now and into the future.

“The exciting development will also support the growth of the creative and technology sectors using this vibrant and unique centre as a preferred location as opposed to distant office parks.

“Now is the time to act to safeguard the future of East Street, which has suffered greatly in recent years, and the wider area. This proposed development offers much-needed investment and regeneration at a time when we are becoming less reliant on traditional transport–instead moving towards ‘urban village’ living–as we’re already seeing in London and other major cities.” 

Francis Firmstone welcomed the endorsement of Bedminster BID and added: “St Catherine’s Place has struggled to thrive for many years.
Our proposals will protect this vital community asset and boost the whole of Bedminster–helping to keep local spend in the area, as well as providing a really attractive place for people to meet and socialise.

“Whilst countless major retail brands close their doors across the country, our plans will secure the centre’s future for generations to come and act as a crucial focal point for the local community as well as attracting new people to visit–bringing significant economic investment.”

The revised application for the redevelopment of St Catherine’s Place is expected to be decided on by Bristol City Council in November.

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