Greenbank, Bristol: A 15 Minute Neighbourhood – The Chocolate Factory

Greenbank, Bristol: A 15 Minute Neighbourhood

A Bristol neighbourhood, which grew up around a chocolate factory 100 years ago, is now being hailed as a perfect example of the latest 21st Century concept being used worldwide to design places to live.

In San Francisco and New York the “15 Minute neighbourhood” concept is being used by urban planners to design places to live where everything you need is within 15 minutes walk or cycle.

Greenbank, Bristol, meets all the criteria. Originally the chocolate factory provided work alongside a railway line. Now the former factory is being transformed into modern homes alongside the Bristol to Bath Railway Path that provides a convenient and efficient cycling, walking and gentle exercise route.

In New York “15 Minute Neighbourhoods” have been defined as places where all residents live within a short walk of a good school, rapid transit, a place to buy fresh food and a park. Sustainability and an urban lifestyle have been flagged up in other parts of the world.

First residents have started moving into The Chocolate Factory, a redevelopment of the former Elizabeth Shaw factory in Greenbank. The factory lay derelict for 16 years at the heart of the community and work has continued throughout lockdowns to ensure new homes are available.

Jason Schofield, Development Director of Generator South West, said: “What everyone has learned over the last few years is that it is possible for many people to work from home and that has put greater emphasis on what you have nearby.

“To be able to work at home and walk to some great shops and a park has become more important. To be able to cycle into the city centre or to Temple Meads to catch a train and have everything you need in close proximity is the way that people now want to live.

“While others are planning where they might put their 15 Minute Neighbourhoods, as usual Bristol is ahead of the game with Greenbank. The regeneration of the former factory is well under way and people are starting to move in and enjoy the area.

“At the moment we already have three and four bedroom family homes completed with others nearing completion at The Chocolate Factory, along with shared-ownership homes. Unsurprisingly, given the growing popularity of Greenbank, we are already getting a lot of interest in apartments some of which are expected to be released for sale this winter.

“Urban living in this century is all about being connected so we concentrated on things like broadband, good links to the cycle network and electric vehicle charging in the planning stage.

“Of course the wonderful shops, cafes, bars and pubs were already in the area and they make it a great place to live. We intend to build on this by creating a commercial hub at The Chocolate Factory centred around a public square where community and convenience are at the very heart of our thinking.”