An increasing number of city centre dwellers are choosing The Chocolate Factory in BS5 as the place to buy a property and become part of a growing close-knit community.
Purchasers from city centre flats and Clifton townhouses are deciding to re-settle in leafy and convenient Greenbank as the lure of community spirit attracts them away from hustle and bustle of the centre.
One such resident is Francesca, aged 50, an Epidemiologist for the University of Bristol who moved to the development with her husband Robin, aged 45, at the end of last year. The couple have bought a terraced home after moving to Greenbank from a garden flat in Clifton.
Said Francesca: “It was being part of a community that really attracted us to the area. Clifton is beautiful with nice houses but because it has a big student population people come and go quickly and there are a lot of Airbnb and rental properties, so the community does not form so well.
“Here we have a much more diverse community, and we are already making friends. Most of the other people who have moved in are younger with families. In fact, friends we made in Clifton are now following us and moving to The Chocolate Factory.”
Francesca has been working from home a lot recently and she and Robin plan to buy bicycles soon so that they can take advantage of being alongside the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.
She said: “It’s just a short stroll down to Stapleton Road where I get the train to Clifton Down for my work when I have to go into the office. My husband is a software engineer so he can also work at home at times.”
When the original factory was built during Victorian times, the owners created the roads of terraced homes that surround the factory but they also provided things such as a sports pavilion and recreational ground.
Created by the employer to enhance the lives of his employees and support local organisations, the recreational ground included a bowling green, cricket pitch, tennis court and allotments, which are still there to this day.
Fast forward 100 years and the once derelict Elizabeth Shaw factory is taking shape as an extension of the already popular neighbourhood of Greenbank, attracting first-time buyers, downsizers, families, retirees and young professionals. They are bringing the site to life again after 16 years of lying derelict before work began in 2018.
Once complete The Chocolate Factory will include a mix of private sale houses and apartments, 28 shared ownership apartments together with a community hub based around the new public open square, retail space, café/bar and workspace units, further enhancing the community facilities and bringing a new vibrancy into BS5.
Said Francesca: “It will be nice when the square with the shops is completed and we are hoping there will be some nice local business and not a big chain. We would also like to see some cultural space created where people from the neighbourhood can meet together and maybe have some exhibitions.”
Those aspirations match the desires of the developers Generator South West, who are in talks with a number of Bristol based independent businesses to occupy the commercial units at the development.
Mya Castillo, consultant for Generator South West, who herself has lived in BS5 for over 20 years, said: “The place you live is not just about bricks and mortar it is about the community that surrounds your home and the first residents of The Chocolate Factory are definitely creating that community spirit.
“Greenbank is a vibrant, established, engaged and friendly community with everything you need within a 15-minute walk or cycle ride.
“The Chocolate Factory is a regeneration of a site that was once the beating heart of the neighbourhood now being brought back to life. When the Generator Group was first designing and planning the scheme, we really wanted to create a sense of neighbourhood, so to see that happening now before the scheme is even complete is wonderful.
“These properties are gorgeous but what really makes a house is the sense of home it creates and part of that is the surrounding area and all the vibrancy, camaraderie and connection that brings.
“Like many parts of Bristol the area has changed massively over the last decade but it is nice to see long-established businesses like Sweet Mart and Paks thrive alongside relatively new openings like The Garden of Easton, The Red Church and The Lock Up.
“Native Vine is opening up on Church Road as the sister company to Bristol Loaf, who had their very first bakery a few doors down and are now taking the city by storm. It really is testament to the area retaining its Bristol spirit, identity and sense of independence.
“Schools have improved, and investment has been made in parks and the Railway Path so getting to the train station and into the centre is much easier. You can understand why people love to live in this part of the city. “
Reservations are now being taken for the flagship houses on the scheme, the three- and four-bedroom townhouses on Packers Way created from one of the three original factory buildings. Steeped in history with high ceilings and large statement windows the townhouses have attracted a huge amount of interest.
This summer will see the launch of the eagerly anticipated apartments and demand is already high due to the lack of 1- and 2-bedroom homes available in the area. The shared ownership apartments that have now all been sold at the development were snapped up in a matter of days by first time buyers keen to get a foot on the property ladder.
There is a visitor centre on Co-Operation Road that showcases the rich history of chocolate making on the site and its positive social impact as major employer in the area. Anyone interested in viewing the properties can make an appointment to view the show homes at The Chocolate Factory by calling 0117 374 6600. More information is also on the website www.chocolatefactorybristol.com.