Soapworks development to create £200m long term community benefits for local people

Gardiner of Bristol

First Base, the mixed-use property developer bringing the former Gardiner Haskins site back to life, has revealed its proposals will generate up to £200m in long-term community benefits, measured as ‘social value’, over the next 20 years.

A new report, created in collaboration with social enterprise, The Social Value Portal, outlines the commitments that will be made by First Base throughout the design, procurement, construction, estate management and operation of its landmark Soapworks scheme to ensure it improves local opportunities, life chances and wellbeing.

The Soapworks, which has been an iconic landmark in Bristol since the 1860s, will re-open its doors to the public and help to deliver the inclusive and sustainable recovery needed for Bristol to build back better after Covid-19.

Its social value commitments include:

  • A policy-compliant level of affordable housing in Old Market which will help to meet demand from local people for new homes
  • Delivering more than 2,000 new jobs for the local community, including for those not in education, employment or training (NEETS) and rehabilitated offenders
  • Providing skills and training opportunities for local people
  • Providing over 6,000 sqm (equivalent to 23 tennis courts) of green, open and play spaces for the community to use
  • Supporting diversity through procurement and ‘buy local, buy social’ in the supply chain
  • Developing a diverse economy and balanced communities, by carrying out commitments as a Bristol Property Inclusion Charter founder signatory and through progressive procurement processes, such as committing to supporting local BAME enterprises in partnership with Cognitive Paths and Black South West.
  • Improving sustainable transport connectivity within a car-free development, promoting walking activities such as the Old Market Walking Tour and provision of new cycling infrastructure
  • Cleaner energy and improved environment, supported by the First Base sustainability charter and over 100 new species of plants and new trees, supporting local wildlife and opportunities to ‘grow-your-own’ fruit and vegetables
  • Improving educational outcomes through upskilling and work-place training opportunities for local people throughout construction and working with local schools and colleges, such as Hannah More Primary School
  • Reducing crime through training opportunities with the probation service and associated charities, such as Sixty One
  • Reducing social and economic isolation and improving health and wellbeing through work with local health groups, active lifestyle initiatives and wellbeing charities, such as OTR
  • Minimising homelessness with key charity partners who work within this sector, such as 1625.

Lucinda Mitchell, Project Director at First Base said: “Embedding social value into our developments is at the heart of everything we do at First Base and the Soapworks is no exception. We want to ensure that tangible long-term community benefits are maximised throughout the lifecycle of the project and that our proposals benefit wider society, whether that’s residents, workers or visitors to the site. We’re delighted to be contributing to Bristol’s inclusive and sustainable recovery with £200 million in social value to provide a much-needed boost after the pandemic.”

First Base has submitted its plans to transform the Soapworks site with a landmark mixed-use development that will celebrate Bristol’s industrial past and creative future. The new development will comprise of 242 homes – including affordable housing – 150,000 sq ft of commercial office and retail space, a vibrant food and drink offer and green, open spaces for the public to enjoy.