In the blog this week we’re keeping it local! We’re heading to the quirky and creative district of Stokes Croft, an area in between Kingsdown and St.Pauls, Bristol. The informally nicknamed area was originally known for it’s derelict housing, squats and anarchist activity including graffiti and alternative nightlife. The world’s most famous graffiti artist Banksy chose to make Stokes Croft home to the Mild Mild West mural in the 1990s and in 2006 Bristol City Council the area was issued a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help increase economic activity and support community relations.
The area rapidly became the cultural and creative quarter of Bristol, with an abundance of artist studios, street art and independent shops, bars and nightclubs soon to be crowned one of the Best Urban Areas to live in the South West by The Sunday Times. The attraction of this area has initiated immense changes for the future of some of the landmark buildings and we’re taking a look at how the Art Quarter of Bristol might look in the near future.
As a Bristol resident its been near impossible to ignore the rapid demolition of Stokes Croft infamous Westmoreland House. The high rise building had become a recognisable feature of the area as it had been left derelict since the 1980s becoming a magnet to the city’s graffiti artists who painted the structure from top to bottom. Westmoreland House and the Grade II listed Carriage Works are currently being developed by PG Group and transformed into 148 new homes and business units. Whilst plans for the development have been somewhat contentious with the lack of proposals for affordable housing, the developers insist the project will be “an enterprising development that respects and reflects the community ethos of Stokes Croft” along with plans for a community market in the public square and commercial units tailored for independent businesses.
Another space that has been a regular local news headline is Hamilton House. The building was hosted by Co-Exist who had transformed the abandoned office block into a community led space for events, artist studios, workshops with a shop and wellbeing centre. After publicly fraught negotiations between Co-Exist and owners Connolly & Callaghan the building is soon to be developed.
Just a few blocks down the same street you find yourself at one of Bristol’s most notorious nightclubs; Lakota. Previously a brewery, the ‘Bottle Works’ building which compromises of both the nightclub and Coroner’s Court has been up for sale citing redevelopment with several applications suggesting the building will be turning into accommodation and business units. Much like Lakota, a nightclub only a couple of buildings down; ‘Blue Mountain’ has announced its closure in February stating it’s redevelopment to a mixed-use scheme hosting student accommodation, office and commercial space.
With some speculation over what will become of Stokes Croft’s popular nightlife, there are plans for the 1950s former motorcycle showroom on Stokes Croft to be transformed into a multi-purpose leisure centre. The light industrial space will retain it’s original structure and plans propose it will become home to a restaurant, two bars, a micro-distillery and micro-brewery including a roof terrace.
Whilst the gentrification of the traditionally anarchist area has brought up some controversy it seems some locals have taken to the matter with a sense of humour – one fraudster imitating planning permission for a drive-thru Starbucks on Stokes Croft’s ‘last remaining free space’ Turbo Island! Whatever your stance on the rejuvenation of this area, it sure is going to be interesting to see what happens next!