Bristol's Debenhams to be knocked down to build tower of 'affordable' flats

The largest tower block to house the flats will be 28 storeys high
The largest tower block will be 28 storeys high. Credit: AWW Architects

Plans to demolish a derelict department store for new tower blocks in Bristol city centre have been approved.

Debenhams has laid empty for three years, but will now be knocked down to make way for 502 new flats.

The developer now has planning permission from Bristol City Council for their major scheme on the Horsefair by the Bearpit roundabout.

The flats - 100 of which “affordable”- will be housed in several buildings including a 28 storey tower block.

More than 100 people objected to the plans, largely due to the height of the tallest tower.

The Debenhams site has been derelict in Bristol for three years Credit: ITV News

Several urged the development control committee on 24 April to refuse permission, due to the perceived harm to views across the city centre, and loss of the 1950s department store.

In response, Charlie Royle, director of developer 33 Horsefair Ltd, said: “Bristol faces an enormous housing crisis.

“For this site, a housing-led mixed use redevelopment is the only answer. We’re proposing more than 500 new homes, set along a tree-lined pedestrian retail street. One hundred of those homes will be affordable.

“Our proposal would repurpose the site into a green, attractive, safe, and vibrant place to live, work and socialise, with an additional £11 million a year spending going towards the struggling Broadmead.”

Debenhams closed down in 2021 after the company went into administration.

Over half the flats will have windows on only one side, with nine per cent of the flats being both single aspect and north-facing, creating concerns about a lack of sunlight.

Other concerns included the potential for strong winds along the north street, with the new tall towers creating a canyon effect.

At 28 storeys tall, the tower block will be one of the tallest buildings in Bristol.

Councillors on the committee were split about the plans.

A majority voted in favour of the new homes, while Greens voted against the plans.