March 29, 2022

Barings Acquires £215M Landmark Soapworks Development in Bristol

Barings and mixed-use developer Socius to deliver urban regeneration scheme

Barings, one of the world’s largest diversified real estate investment managers, has acquired Soapworks, a mixed-use development in Bristol with a gross development value of £215 million. Barings has completed the investment on behalf of a retained client and will work with mixed-use developer, Socius, to deliver the scheme.

Soapworks will create a new district in Bristol city centre five minutes’ walk from both Temple Meads Station, Bristol’s main train station, and the new £500 million University of Bristol campus. Set within a new public square, it will comprise two new buildings alongside the restoration of a Grade II listed former soap factory that dates back to the 1860s.

The scheme has planning consent for 154,000 sq ft of flexible office accommodation which will target a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating and aim for net-zero carbon in operation, as well as 243 build-to-rent (BTR) apartments, 20% of which will be for affordable tenures, and 18,800 sq ft of flexible ground floor retail, hospitality and leisure space. The workspace will be divided into 18,000 sq ft in the existing Grade II-listed building and 136,000 sq ft in a new building which will aim to address the shortage of modern, sustainable workspace in the city, which has a high graduate retention rate of 51% and current office availability of just 106,000 sq ft, less than half the five-year average.

The proposed development is expected to deliver up to £200 million of social value according to independent consultant Social Value Portal, an additional 513 new net additional full time equivalent jobs within the Bristol economy, and £35 million per year of gross value-added contributed to the Bristol economy relating to new employment uses.

Barings will deliver the development in partnership with Socius, which conceived the scheme and secured planning consent and will be retained as development manager.

Darren Hutchinson, Managing Director and Head of UK Real Estate Transactions at Barings, said: “Already a landmark in Bristol, Soapworks will be an iconic place to live and work in the city, with new and much-needed homes, Grade A office space, and a revamped public realm and vibrant ground-floor retail and hospitality. Working alongside Socius, we’re working to retain as much of the original buildings as possible, and thus the embodied carbon, so that we can create a first-class destination with as little environmental impact as possible. Due to the quality of this space, it will not only be a landmark within Bristol but be an example of excellent place-making across the UK.”

Ben Pile, Head of European Residential Investing and Asset Management at Barings said: “Soapworks will offer a very high standard of living and working space, making it a hugely attractive asset as we look to continue to acquire more developments in our preferred sectors. Given Bristol’s desirability as a place to live, its sizeable student population and its undersupply of top-quality office accommodation, we anticipate demand for both homes with high levels of amenity and best in class net zero workplaces continuing to grow significantly. The Soapworks is well positioned to become one of the city’s most desirable districts. We look forward to working with our new partners at Socius to develop this truly first-class destination.”

Barry Jessup, Managing Director at Socius, said: “Barings share our long-term vision for a new vibrant district in the heart of Bristol which blends much-needed flexible and sustainable workspace with new homes and an eclectic retail and dining mix. We look forward to working together with the council and local community to delivering this exciting project in what is one of the UK’s most dynamic and fast-growing cities.”

Colliers and Ashurst acted for Barings, and Savills and DWF acted for the vendor.

For further information:

Tali Robinson/Polly Warrack/Ben Monteith (SEC Newgate)

Andrew Scorgie / Ellie Perham-Marchant / Naomi Galt (FTI Consulting)

Notes to editors
Social value: According to an analysis from independent consultant Social Value Portal, Soapworks will deliver up to £200 million of social value to the local community in Bristol. This includes the cumulative value over a 20 year period of employment, training and skills initiatives, improvements to local infrastructure and transport connectivity, direct support for local businesses and a ‘local first’ approach to procurement, increased biodiversity and improvements to the environment and partnerships with charities to reduce crime, promote inclusion and address homelessness.

Barings Real Estate
Barings Real Estate (BRE) offers a broad range of global investment opportunities across the private debt and equity investment markets. BRE invests in all major property sectors and offers an expansive range of financing solutions to real estate borrowers. Follow us on LinkedIn at

About Barings
Barings is a $391+ billion* global investment manager sourcing differentiated opportunities and building long-term portfolios across public and private fixed income, real estate, and specialist equity markets. With investment professionals based in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, the firm, a subsidiary of MassMutual, aims to serve its clients, communities and employees, and is committed to sustainable practices and responsible investment.

*Assets under management as of December 31, 2021

Socius is an impactful developer with a circa £1bn development pipeline across major UK towns and cities including Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge, Milton Keynes and London. Privately-owned, Socius partners with global investors to balance profits alongside purpose whilst delivering inspiring and sustainable mixed-use places.

Current projects include the mixed-use redevelopment of the former AMEX House Brighton; the £215m regeneration of Soapworks in central Bristol, and MK Gateway, a future-focused development of workspace and homes in the centre of Milton Keynes. Socius is also partnering with senior living operator Amicala to bring forward integrated extra care communities at two sites in Bristol and Weighbridge, Surrey.

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