The Galleries demolished: Bristol reacts to massive change to city centre

Yesterday (Friday, July 1) a shock announcement was made that The Galleries in the city centre would be closing more than 30 years after it first opened. Staff were told yesterday they would have two more years there before the shopping centre would close its doors and be demolished.

Rumours have been flying for weeks there were big changes afoot for Broadmead, epseically with no movement on the old Debenhhams and M&S sites, but few expected anything quite so dramatic. The shopping centre will be replaced with a new development of shops, flats, offices, bars and restaurants if plans are approved.

Bristol Live’s Facebook audience had a lot to say about the news, you can join the debate here. While some thought it was time for The Galleries to go, others believe it is a waste of money as online shopping, no parking and Clean Air Zone charges will keep people away from the city centre no matter what is built there.

Read next: The Galleries looking back at the shopping centre over the decades

Others were concerned the land would be used for student accommodation, something Bristol has more and more of each year, and that flats should be built for local people especially those on low incomes. The debate got quite lively, with some saying The Galleries should be repurposed rather than demolished to save on costs.

Writing in the comments on Bristol Live’s Facebook page Sarah Maskew said: “What’s the point in doing this when a large majority of people won’t be able to drive there once the clean air zone comes in”

Others think it is time the city centre had an update. Lesley Milner said: “As for the galleries, I moved to Bristol 10 years ago and I personally think it needs to be modernised. When you look at city centres like Leeds and Sheffield, Bristol is an embarrassment. We need to encourage more businesses and more people who don’t live in Bristol to come here to rejuvenate it.”

Nigel Kotula said: I remember being involved with the construction of the galleries after Fairfax House was demolished. Such a shame and waste of money. Most people shop out of town due to parking issues

Although not everyone has such fond memories. Michelle Dring said: “Thank god get rid of it now. Reminds me of something from a zombie apocalypse film. Has anyone actually stepped foot in the place in the last 20 years, other than to use it as a cut through”

Martin Davies wrote: “What hideous monstrosity will be erected in its place I wonder? No doubt we’ll have a couple of years of disruption with buses being diverted left, right and centre – assuming we still have some modicum of a bus service left by then.”

Lee Holdstock said: “It’s clearly no longer viable.Bigger chains either moved to Cabots or moved out and Covid has seen an explosion in online retail which people aren’t returning from. Little point in more retail space, so save some materials/carbon/emissions and reuse as much of the structure as possible for affordable accommodation.”

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