Looking to the past for the Bargate's Future

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In conversation

James Burchell                     Steven Frith

Bargate Property Ltd            Corstorphine + Wright


A new scheme is set to breathe life into the area surrounding the 800 year-old Bargate and the stretch of medieval city walls to the east of it, that for too many years have been concealed.

Planning consent has been granted by Southampton City Council to demolish the former Bargate Shopping Centre and transform the area with a £100m scheme that includes apartments and student accommodation, boutique shopping, cafés and restaurants.

Developer James Burchell explained they hope to be on site later this year with completion in 2019.

“I have a good understanding of historical developments and their relevance.

“I’ve known the Bargate for a long time and it is the city icon. 

“We are filled with excitement and trepidation - and conscious that what we are doing will reconnect people with the city walls,” said James, who was previously involved for 15 years with the redevelopment of Albert Dock in Liverpool.

Bargate Property Ltd undertook major consultations with the public over what the redevelopment should look like. 

 “The level of interest in the proposals from local stakeholders and residents has been huge and has highlighted how important it is that this site is brought back into positive use. The scheme which has been lodged with the council seeks to create a vibrant neighbourhood. We’d like to think the proposals meet the expectations of those who have shown an interest in the site’s redevelopment over the last 12 months, and we will continue to keep the local community updated with the progress of the application,” said James.

Architect Steven Frith explained that revealing the historic city wall was central to their concept.

“From the outset the city wall has been the main design driver and that leads into making the connection between the wall and the Bargate. You will be able to see a connection that has been obscured for the past 200 years.

“We have been doing a lot of research and we have an archaeologist and heritage team on the scheme. We’ve looked into the history and found that in recent times there were gardens along the wall and this will be reflected in some of the landscaping.

“The whole idea is to celebrate the wall. We are carefully considering the materials we use and making sure they complement what already exists,” he said.

By opening the area up (30 per cent of the new scheme will be public realm), the architects hope to create a destination that is unique to Southampton with al fresco dining spilling out from the restaurants, cafés and kiosks.

As well as re-inventing the area, the new scheme will link Debenhams and the parks to the city centre in a more cohesive way.

“In recent years there has been a strong shift to the west and we hope to create strong east to west connections.

“A credible retail scheme needs free flow of people and that is what we hope to achieve.

“We are hoping to link to that history and bring it right up to date with this latest development,” said Steven.

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