Protecting heritage assets
There are some very important heritage assets to consider in designing our scheme, not least the Shot Tower. We have undertaken comprehensive heritage and visual impact assessments which have informed the design. In particular, the massing of the proposed building has been shaped using tiers that step back as they rise, so key views of the Shot Tower are not obscured.
The current building
The tired red-brick 1970’s building is no longer fit-for-purpose and is not the sort of sustainable, energy-efficient building the city needs. With its high redbrick wall along Passage Street, it fails to create a positive environment for pedestrians. To its rear it has an unwelcoming parking and service yard. The current building does not provide high quality access to the water’s edge, one of the city’s key assets. It is an inefficient use of a sustainable city centre location, and the current design looks extremely dated when contrasted with new neighbouring developments. In an area that is rapidly changing the site needs a total rethink.
A changing height context
The current building on One Passage Street is four storeys plus rooftop plant. But the local height and density context continues to change rapidly with Castle Park View at 26 storeys and the former fire station at 15 storeys. Immediately adjacent to One Passage Street is Assembly C which will stand at 14 storeys once built. Our proposal is to build four storeys closest to the edge of the water, then increase the height in tiers that step back away from the Floating Harbour to a maximum of 11 storeys.
A new landmark building
We believe we are proposing what would be a distinct and aspirational landmark building. We have shaped the building with softening curved edges, each storey ‘twisting’ to create visual interest and to allow views of the Shot Tower to be protected. Stepping-back the building as it climbs towards Assembly C respects and responds to neighbouring buildings. This tiering also makes room for a number of large terrace areas, providing views for people working in the new building. The design and material palette has been chosen to complement and reflect the existing local character, as well as great buildings in other cities.
A safer, more attractive pedestrian environment
Currently a high red-brick wall spans the length of the property along Passage Street, with hidden corners and a rear service yard, vulnerable to anti-social behaviour, and creating a very unattractive frontage to the street. We propose to transform this street-level experience, with active frontages along much of the ground floor, including the potential for a retail/gym space, cycle entrance for office staff, reception, a glazed atrium with seating, terraces overlooking Passage Street, and through carefully-designed internal and external lighting. The neglected rear parking area will be removed.
New eatery & community space
The new building would also have a glass fronted, contemporary eatery with sliding doors opening onto an external dining area overlooking the Floating Harbour. In addition to the eatery would be a modern, atrium space available for public hire, which would lend itself to private and community events. The space has been designed to be flexible and could – for example – be used in a theatre-style format for lectures.
A highly-sustainable building
We are aiming for the highest rating for sustainable buildings, BREEAM Outstanding, achieved on just a handful of buildings in Bristol, including Halo currently being built at Finzels Reach. This would require heating, cooling and energy usage to be significantly lower than required by building regulations. We are also seeking to reach the highest standards in other key sustainability and wellness measures. We are looking at both air source heat pumps (currently the most sustainable option), as well as Bristol’s district heat network, which – once complete – would provide 100 per cent renewable energy.
Currently there is little ecology onsite. We are proposing to retain both willow trees which front onto Passage Street, as well as a large tree at the back of the site. We are also proposing to introduce ‘green ribbons’ of planting along the terraces – visible when looking at the building – as well as a new private garden for office staff in what is currently the service yard. A full ecological survey will be undertaken to inform the landscape strategy, but biodiversity and landscaping will definitely be increased.
The site is extremely accessible by public transport, cycling and – with increasing numbers of people living in the city centre – walking. To encourage active travel, we are meeting the council’s newer and higher cycle parking standards (TQEZ Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, November 2016). This will provide ample secure cycle parking for staff, visitors and customers of the ground floor eatery. It will also include spaces suitable for cyclists with mobility impairments, and scooter parking. Showers and bike maintenance facilities are also included in the proposal. The cycle access would be from Passage Street.
New loading bay & very limited car parking
We are proposing to replace the five existing on-street parking bays with a single loading bay, to ensure deliveries do not create traffic issues. There would only be six parking spaces within the development, including one blue badge space and two electric vehicle charging points. This is a significant reduction compared to the current parking levels. The very limited number of car spaces would be accessed from Cheese Lane.
A great place to work
We are seeking to replace an outdated and no-longer-fit-for-purpose-block with a BREEAM Outstanding building. We are also targeting the highest FitWel and WELL ratings to provide the best workplace for occupants’ health and wellbeing. Spacious and light, it will provide flexible, modern facilities, ground floor eatery, an outlook across the Floating Harbour, green terraces and a private shared garden, with easy access to Castle Park and the shopping quarter.
Office space demand
Despite the shifting work patterns resulting from the pandemic, there remains a significant under supply of high-quality offices in Bristol’s city centre. The neighbouring Assembly building has already sold a large office space to BT, with Bridgewater House fully occupied, Halo pre-let to solicitor Osborne Clarke, and Channel 4 among other local occupiers at Finzels Reach. The current One Passage Street building fails to meet occupier needs, but a new high-specification building would help meet that demand.
Clearly having approximately 1,000 office workers is going to boost demand for local services, including at neighbouring retailers, restaurants, cafes and bars. An economic benefits assessment will be undertaken as part of the application to quantify the anticipated additional spend and jobs created both during construction and through the spending of the new office staff.
We are very aware of the amount of construction work being undertaken in this locality. To help minimise disruption for neighbours we will prepare a construction management plan to be agreed with the council. This will include siting of storage compounds and traffic management. Exact timescales will depend on a number of factors, not least securing planning permission. However, we would anticipate demolition/site clearance to be undertaken in mid-2022. The main construction works are likely to commence in late 2022 – for approximately 24 months. This will potentially be after much of the current construction is complete.