Aurora, one of the exciting projects building Bristol’s future city centre skyline

We take a closer look at six of the most exciting building projects taking place in the city.

Despite all the economic doom and gloom of recent years, Bristol’s commercial property market is thriving. There have been two record years of take-up in the last three in the city, and the Bristol office market has continued to perform solidly in the second quarter of 2017, with a significant jump in the number of deals completed.

So with plenty of reason for optimism, we look ahead at the six biggest projects that will change the landscape of the city in the next few years, all within a few minutes walk of Bristol Temple Meads.

Finzels Reach CGI

The Aurora office block which is being built at Finzel’s Reach.


The impressive £50million Aurora building is being built on the front of Finzel’s Reach – the former Courage Brewery site in Counterslip and opposite the Temple Back fire station.

The only speculative development of any real scale in the city, it’s the dreamchilld of Bristol-based developers Cubex

The Aurora was recently awarded with an ‘outstanding’ BREEAM accreditation for its sustainability credentials – the only one outside London to achieve this rating and one of only six in Britain.


The new Aurora office block next to the Grade II listed Generator Building

A 168-bed Premier Inn Hotel is currently being built next to the Aurora site. The building is due to be completed in the autumn.

On the other side of the Aurora site is the Grade II listed Generator Building which provided electricity for the city’s tram system. It is also being prepared for regeneration.

The Generator Building will be the last component in the Finzel’s Reach regeneration project and will be used to create new offices.

Cubex director Gavin Bridge said: “Not only is Aurora the only speculative office building in Bristol, where the availability of Grade A space is at a historic low, but it has set a benchmark for sustainable office development in the city.”

3 Glass Wharf

The regeneration of the Temple Quarter has been the great success story in the city’s recent history, with Glass Wharf the jewel in the crown. But with 3 Glass Wharf the final piece in the jigsaw will come together.

Anyone working in or around Temple Meads couldn’t help but notice a new kid on the block last week – as an imposing tower crane has been constructed to allow work to properly get under way on 3 Glass Wharf. The building is set to be home to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The UK Government is set to become one of Bristol’s largest employers after taking out the 25-year office lease. Intelligence, risk and counter-avoidance workers are set to take up residence in the new 3 Glass Wharf building when the non-ministerial HMRC department moves to the city in the coming years.

The Government has signed a 25-year lease on the building, which is due to be completed later this year. HMRC will move up to 1,250 civil servants in to the offices between 2019 and 2021 as part of the Government’s plans to open 13 new regional centres around the UK.

Services including risk and intelligence, fraud intelligence, counter-avoidance, large business and debt management field force will be run from the office.

Chief executive of HMRC Jon Thompson said: “HMRC has a large and long-established presence in the South West and the new regional centre in Bristol demonstrates our commitment to the region and its economy.”

Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus

The deal finally completed last month that saw the University of Bristol buying the land needed for its proposed £300 million campus near Bristol Temple Meads Station.

The land is divided into two parts – the former Cattle Market site of around 2.2 hectares, which was later redeveloped by Royal Mail Group as a sorting office, and the northern section of Arena Island, which is around 0.7 hectares.

The university unveiled its vision for the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus last year and a public consultation has recently taken place. An outline planning application is expected to be submitted later in the year.

Property consultancy JLL has been advising the university on the purchase of the land and its future development proposals including advising on the planning process.

The vision for the actual buildings is still vague, but the university’s ambition is to create a home for innovation and digital technology, which will combine research and teaching across a number of disciplines together with student accommodation. It will be a hub for students, businesses and academics, providing a space for them to work together to drive innovation. There are also ambitions to develop landmark buildings and public spaces and hopefully a new access to Temple Meads Station from the south.

Redcliffe Quarter

Work has already started on the exciting regeneration of what will become known as Redcliffe Quarter. The developers are looking to build new homes, bars and restaurants in an area behind Victoria Street in the city centre which has become neglected and overlooked.

Most exciting of all the plans include a new food quarter which would include a market and restaurants and bars.

Phase 1 sees the construction of 128 apartments and three commercial units on a 0.8 acre area of the 2.5 acre site being developed by Change Real Estate.

There was outrage from the Civic Society last year when Change Real Estate applied for planning permission to build 274 flats, a 186 bed hotel, café/restaurants, a food hall, office space and public realm work on the site, formerly part occupied by Patterson and Miles Druce in Redcliff Street.

But the developer said its aspiration is to create a bustling new neighbourhood housing a variety of developments accessible and attractive to people of all ages and to make it a desirable place to visit and enjoy.

A spokesman said: “Our proposed plans will revive this underutilised area of the city with a vibrant and high quality development, with its own, unique identity that embraces the character and heritage of the neighbourhood.”

It comes as the neighbouring St Mary Redcliffe Church undergoes a £12-15 million development project, which will give the church much-needed visitor amenities, step-free access, and a community hub on a separate site or sites in the heart of the Redcliffe area.

Engine Shed 2

Plans to transform disused buildings in Temple Circus into a second Engine Shed show a towering glass office block where the old Grosvenor Hotel currently stands.

Artist impressions of the island of land, at the end of Redcliffe Way, also show the Grade II listed George and Railway Hotel revamped as part of the work.

The group leading the work, the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprize Zone project, hopes to create an ‘Engine Shed 2’ on the site, with mostly office space, but also cafes and retail space. It has been designed as a follow on from the current Engine Shed, at Station Approach opposite Temple Meads.

Speaking to the Post last year, Nick Sturge, centre director for Engine Shed, said: “The Engine Shed has certainly stimulated growth. Engine Shed 2 will continue to do that, it’s not just creating office space to let. We hope to encourage innovation activity, there’ll be more collaboration space plus grow on space.”

Paintworks Phase Three

Paintworks was one of the great regeneration projects of the last decade. It is hoped the new phase of landmark apartments will continue the success story at the former brownfield site at Arnos Vale. The new phase will include a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments, houses with three and four bedrooms and a number of live / work units. Prices range from £220,000 to £450,000.

Before the 1850s the site was a bustling maritime environment known as Phoenix Wharf. It then became a paint and varnish factory built by Bristol Paint makers Colthurst & Harding.

The site was extended and altered over the next 100 years and in its later years was taken over by Courtaulds after which it gradually fell into decline and ceasing paint manufacture.

The former Phoenix Wharf site became known as Central Trading Estate and changed hands several times. It was eventually purchased by Verve a property developer, in 2001 who commenced redevelopment of the site in 2003, split into distinct phases.

Phase One completed in 2004 – including studio/offices, live/work and residential spaces and central hub building providing a café/bar, performance space. Phase Two completed in 2007 – featuring studio/offices and a landmark office/showroom with new residential floor.

The next development, Phase Three, is due for completion in later this yaer – featuring live/work and residential spaces, commercial premises and a central plaza. A fourth phase is also planned for a later date.

Author: David Clensy, Bristol Post