Barings acquires landmark Bristol Soapworks development

Barings acquires Soapworks, a landmark mixed-use regeneration scheme in Bristol, with a GDV of £215m.

Soapworks development in Bristol - Barings | Socius | BTR News
Soapworks development in Bristol, which has planning consent for 243 Build to Rent apartments.

One of the world’s largest diversified real estate investment managers – Barings – acquires Soapworks, a landmark mixed-use development in Bristol. Barings has completed the investment on behalf of a retained client and will work with mixed-use developer, Socius, to deliver the scheme. Colliers and Ashurst acted for Barings, and Savills and DWF acted for the vendor.

The £215m GDV Soapworks scheme will create a new district in Bristol city centre. Barings will deliver the Soapworks development in partnership with Socius, which conceived the scheme and secured planning consent and will be retained as development manager.

“Barings share our long-term vision for a new vibrant district in the heart of Bristol which blends much-needed flexible and sustainable workspace with new homes and an eclectic retail and dining mix. We look forward to working together with the council and local community to deliver this exciting project in what is one of the UK’s most dynamic and fast-growing cities.”

Barry Jessup, Managing Director, Socius

Soapworks is a five minute walk from both Temple Meads Station, Bristol’s main train station, and the new £500m University of Bristol campus. Set within a new public square, it will comprise two new buildings alongside the restoration of a Grade II listed former soap factory that dates back to the 1860s.

Soapworks will deliver 243 Build to Rent apartments – 20% of which will be for affordable tenures. There will be 18,800 sq ft of flexible ground floor retail, hospitality and leisure space. The development will also include 154,000 sq ft of flexible office accommodation which will target a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating and aim for net-zero carbon in operation.

“Already a landmark in Bristol, Soapworks will be an iconic place to live and work in the city, with new and much-needed homes, Grade A office space, and a revamped public realm and vibrant ground-floor retail and hospitality. Working alongside Socius, we’re working to retain as much of the original buildings as possible, and thus the embodied carbon, so that we can create a first-class destination with as little environmental impact as possible. Due to the quality of this space, it will not only be a landmark within Bristol but be an example of excellent placemaking across the UK.”

Darren Hutchinson, Managing Director and Head of UK Real Estate Transactions, Barings

The office accommodation workspace will be divided into 18,000 sq ft in the existing Grade II-listed building and 136,000 sq ft in a new building which will aim to address the shortage of modern, sustainable workspace in the city, which has a high graduate retention rate of 51% and current office availability of just 106,000 sq ft – under half the five-year average.

The proposed Soapworks development is expected to deliver up to £200m of social value according to independent consultant Social Value Portal, an additional 513 new net additional full time equivalent jobs within the Bristol economy, and £35m per year of gross value-added contributed to the Bristol economy relating to new employment uses.

“Soapworks will offer a very high standard of living and working space, making it a hugely attractive asset as we look to continue to acquire more developments in our preferred sectors. Given Bristol’s desirability as a place to live, its sizeable student population and its undersupply of top-quality office accommodation, we anticipate demand for both homes with high levels of amenity and best in class net zero workplaces continuing to grow significantly. Soapworks is well positioned to become one of the city’s most desirable districts. We look forward to working with our new partners at Socius to develop this truly first-class destination.”

Ben Pile, Head of European Residential Investing and Asset Management, Barings