Property news: New plans for Guildhall and more

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 March 2016

The Guildhall in Bristol

The Guildhall in Bristol


We look at the latest news in the world of property from across the county

Future plans for Guildhall

Planning permission has been received from Bristol Council to transform the historic, Grade II* listed Guildhall and Assizes Courts in Bristol’s old city into a luxury five star, 91-bedroom spa hotel.

The Trevor Osborne Property Group, in Bath, bought the 62,000 square foot building from the city council in 2013. The Osborne Group, which specialises in converting historic properties into exclusive hotels, also bought the adjoining Grade I former Bank of England building, which will be incorporated into the scheme.

Architect for the Guildhall Hotel refurbishment, Charles Wellingham, from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in Bath, says: “Our proposals will open up this important building in Bristol’s history allowing it to be appreciated by residents and visitors.”

New theatre project

Tobacco Factory Theatres, one of Bristol’s leading theatre companies, has announced exciting new plans for its future. A proposed project to relocate its second theatre space into the main tobacco factory building on Raleigh Road involves transforming the area currently taken by the existing dance studio to create a fantastic new 86-seat theatre space. It will include dressing rooms and state-of-the-art technical facilities.

The project will also involve significant soundproofing to ensure that performances in both the current Factory Theatre and the new theatre can run concurrently and the front of house area will be increased in size, subject to funding,

Ali Robertson, Director of Tobacco Factory Theatres says: “Having a second, smaller performance space is crucial to who we are, the work that we can do and the impact we can have on both our artistic and public communities.

“It will bring our two spaces together under one roof, making Tobacco Factory Theatres a wonderful place for actors and companies to work alongside one another and for audiences to enjoy the experience of a bustling, welcoming venue which is bursting with creativity and personality. It’s also a very financial and environmentally sustainable model. Finally, this project will enable us to secure a 999 year lease over both performances spaces, giving us a level of security we have never before enjoyed and enabling us to plan for future generations in this wonderful theatre.”

Property advice from expert Amanda Ake

I’ve been searching for a property for some time. The problem is that I’m buying in a very restricted area and what I’m looking for is fairly unusual. It seems that many properties sell without ever coming onto the market. Help!

At any time there are a number of properties that are on the ‘grey’ market, i.e. in the hands of an estate agent, but not being formally marketed. They are classically un-rushed sellers, testing the market without much of the associated hassle. This is increasingly an accepted way of (not) marketing a property and buyers who rely on gathering their intelligence from the property portals should beware as they are missing out on a significant proportion of properties available.

In some villages, the local grapevine is so robust it’s rare for properties to ever come onto the open market.

A buying agent will generally know when a property is quietly on the market. Alternatively, you will need to build good relationships with the local agents who need to know that you are a ‘hot’ buyer before they put you on their list of potential buyers to call when they are instructed to quietly market a property. Proof that you are in a strong financial position will help you with your quest as agents will take you seriously and make sure they keep you in the loop.

You should be aware that grey-market and not-on-the-market properties tend to be optimistically priced as vendors have the luxury of not having to sell. They often take the view that if a buyer comes along who wants the property badly enough, and is prepared to pay over the odds, then they will consider selling. While this clearly isn’t an ideal scenario, if what you’re looking for is very rare, and also very much in demand, there may well be a premium attached to your final choice of property. Even if that’s not the case, a good knowledge of what is quietly on the market can put you in a strong position if the property does finally reach the open market.

Amanda Ake is Regional Director at Stacks Bristol and Somerset

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