Student flats plan for landmark

A building in Clifton that for years housed one of the city’s best-known department stores could be turned into flats for students.

If given approval by Bristol City Council planners, a fourth floor would be added to Maggs House on Queens Road and the basement would be renovated to provide  recreational space for students living above. Retail units on the ground floor have been empty for some time. 

B. Maggs and Co was founded in Bristol in 1850 as a manufacturer of beds and later developed into a large department store on Queens Road. The firm stayed there until it closed in the 1970s.  

The front of the store was badly damaged in December 1978 after an IRA bomb exploded outside the entrance.

Schroders Capital, which owns the building, will lodge a planning application with the council for more than 125 flats. 

James Pentlow, the firm’s capital asset manager, said:   “We want to reconfigure the building so that it can meet the changing needs of the local community and help contribute to an already thriving city centre. 

“The refurbishment of Maggs House will create opportunities for students to live a sustainable lifestyle within touching distance of the university’s main campus and a range of local amenities.

“Purpose built, high-quality student homes will reduce the pressure on the local housing market and create opportunities for students to live close to the campus, which isn’t always the case given the acute shortage of purpose-built student homes in Bristol”. 

     “We want to ensure that this building has a positive impact on the local economy once again, and we hope the community will share our enthusiasm about bringing this prominent building back into active use.”

 The owners say most of the refurbishment will be internal, turning the former shops and offices into modern living accommodation, but there will be some improvements to the Queens Road facade, including new first floor windows. The rear  of the building will also be upgraded. 

They say that they have carried out extensive modelling and reduced the size of the proposed fourth storey to reduce any impact on views to and from the  Wills Memorial Building, “which is the most prominent building in the local vicinity and an important heritage asset”.