Almost as old as Bristol itself, Mary le Port Street was an important thoroughfare of the City, linking the area around St Peter’s Church, in and around Wine Street, Corn Street, High Street and Broad Street.
It originated as a pre-Conquest hollow way (or sunken lane) and was filled in and paved in the 13th Century. The road was built up and developed around St Mary le Port Church and was a key part of the city centre for centuries, but on the night of 24 November 1940 was heavily bombed and almost completely destroyed.
Following the war, the site was used temporarily as a car park before being leased to the Bank of England and Norwich Union Insurance company for office buildings in the 1960s.
Now, these buildings have been derelict for many years. In 2018, Bristol City Council announced their intentions for the street to be reinstated, which MEPC are now bringing forward plans to do.
The site is in the centre of Bristol, just north of the Floating Harbour, east of St Nicholas Market, west of Castle Park and to the south of Wine Street. There are three buildings facing Wine Street and the High Street – Norwich Union House, the Bank of England offices, and Bank House which make up the site. There are several sensitivities in and around the site, including the Scheduled Ancient Monument of the St Mary Le Port Church ruins, the trees and Castle Park, which will be taken into account throughout the design, planning and consultation stages.
We want to create a development which respects and reflects the historic importance of St Mary le Port, the High Street Vaults, Castle Park and the wider city centre.
St Mary le Port Tower and ruins are currently on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register and are in need of significant work to respectfully retain what remains, so that they can be enjoyed by people now and in the future. The Vaults, underneath the pavement in High Street, are also in need of repair to address water ingress and damage to the medieval walls caused by tree roots.
Our planning submission includes a commitment to fund the repair and reuse of these historic ruins and to draw up plans, with local community representatives, to celebrate, and make good use of, the space throughout the year. As part of our plans, we are proposing to reinstate streets and routes which were lost after the war due to urban clearance and redevelopment after the Bristol Blitz.
Our proposals will retain Bridge Street and reinstate four further old streets. The introduction of these new streets will mean that people will be able to access St Mary le Port Tower, Castle Park, and the new buildings from all directions. It will also create a new pedestrian route between St Nicholas Market and Castle Park.
Mary le Port Street – A street connecting St Nicholas Market, Castle Park and St Peter’s Church. Mary le Port Street will be a vibrant pedestrian-only street with new independent retailers, cafes, and restaurants, creating a new destination with St Mary le Port Tower and ruins at its heart.
Cheese Market – A street between Wine Street and Mary le Port Street, running along the edge of Castle Park and connecting Broadmead Shopping Quarter with the Floating Harbour.
Adam and Eve Lane – A second street between Wine Street and Mary le Port Street. Connecting Broadmead Shopping Quarter with St Mary le Port Tower and the Floating Harbour.
Buttermarket Passage – A passage linking Mary le Port Street to Bridge Street.
By reinstating these old streets, we are also re-introducing a view from St Nicholas Market through the site to St Peter’s Church as well as creating a new view of St Mary le Port from Wine Street along Adam and Eve Lane.
A previous proposal in 2008 looked to develop four buildings on the site, as is recommended in local planning policy. We are only planning three buildings, with the ‘fourth quarter’ of the site given back to Castle Park. It was clear from our discussions with local community representatives that they would like to see this area used to enhance the entrance to Castle Park from Bristol Bridge. In response, we have developed a plan that will provide a new area of open space and landscape, with a new seating area to the south of the St Mary le Port Tower and ruins and terracing down to the Floating Harbour.
The decision to not build between building B and Castle Park also means we can retain a number of characterful London Plane trees and improve the relationship with Castle Park.
Sustainability and wellbeing form a key part of our proposals. We are creating a healthy, vibrant and sustainable development. The new buildings will be designed to achieve high energy efficiency and we are aiming to make the buildings zero carbon in operation. We have set ambitious, achievable, targets. Our commitment is to champion environmental sustainability and align with international, national and local sustainability targets; these include the Bristol One City Plan, Bristol One City Climate Strategy, Bristol One City Ecological Emergency Strategy and the UN Goals for Sustainable Development.
Please visit the below website for more information