The urban regeneration scheme, for which Chapman Taylor provided the masterplan and architectural designs, has achieved an excellent footfall of between 24 and 26 million per year in recent years, with an average dwell time of 88 minutes (which is very good for a city with so much else on offer). F&B users are helping to drive SouthGate’s yearly increase in dwell time.
SouthGate has economically revitalised the southern city centre, with a marked increase in office occupation in close proximity to the development. There has also been an increase in the overall number of city visitors. An OCR study showed that 72% of poll respondents thought that SouthGate had enhanced Bath’s shopping experience.
Chapman Taylor worked for 15 years on the £360m redevelopment programme, designing what has been a massively successful urban regeneration on a site which had been a run-down zone of unwelcoming 1970s concrete architecture.
The development comprises 35,000m² of retail space (currently 95% occupied) in addition to leisure facilities, restaurants, 93 apartments (all sold) and over 800 underground parking spaces. Achieving appropriate scale was paramount, but another design imperative was to model the masterplan of the six blocks around open Georgian streets and to create new public spaces, including a square.
A key design principle was to ensure that the new development naturally complemented the existing urban fabric without being a copy or a pastiche. The modern scheme blends seamlessly with the wider urban grain through the use of reconstructed, pre-cast facades, as well as the extensive use of Bath stone for cladding and careful detailing. The design has proved very popular locally, while visitors often mistakenly believe that the buildings are truly from the Georgian era.
The masterplan also strengthened the link to the railway station and provided the basis of a properly integrated transport interchange via the adjacent new bus station.
Placemaking has been a core part of the SouthGate concept – the intention was not to create just a retail and leisure space but also a strong sense of place. The centre is deeply involved with the local community, hosting functions for local community groups and collaborating with local schools, the local council, Bath Carnival and the Bath Festival on various community programmes and events.
A recent public realm upgrade scheme designed by landscape architects Macgregor Smith has introduced wellbeing-friendly public spaces such as an undulating pocket park and mini-meadows while helping to increase the sense of SouthGate as place in which to spend long periods of time.
SouthGate received The Georgian Group Architectural Giles Worsley Award for a “New Building in Georgian Context” in November 2010. It also won a BCSC Gold Award in 2010 as well as receiving a Commendation in the “Large New Development” category at the ICSC European Shopping Centre Awards 2011.