We visit the fast-growing Bristol suburb with no pub, supermarket or …
A mattress has been left by the side of the road in Lockleaze. Fly-tipping is an issue in the area.
“It’s just become deflated,” says Ilanie, as she takes a cigarette break from work at Jhoots Pharmacy. Crouching down with her back to the shop window, she signals over to the square in the middle of Lockleaze. “I love Lockleaze,” she says, “but there’s nothing here.”
It’s a common grumble from people as we take a tour of the fast-growing suburb with the local Green Party councillor David Wilcox. There are more than 1,000 new homes being built over the next few years, but the place lacks a supermarket, a pub, even a coffee shop.
While nine other high streets in Bristol are to get street scene and green infrastuctrure enhancements, Gainsborough Square, at the heart of Lockleaze, appears tired. The central part of the square has benefited from play facilities, but around it there are several empty shops and a burnt-out pub.
A shelter was recently installed at Gainsborough Square at the heart of Lockleaze. It’s been said that it’s uncovered to avoid young people congregating.
The shops which are there include a hair salon, a television repair store, a soft play, a Chinese takeaway, a fish bar and three convience stores.
“I just want to go to Lockleaze shopping and not have to pay £5 for a bottle of milk which is close to being out of date - If I want to go to a supermarket I have to go to Aldi in Horfield,” continues Illanie. “This is a big enough area to have a supermarket, so why haven’t we got one?”
The idea of a supermarket for Lockleaze is not new. In the Lockleaze Voice Neighbourhood Development Plan 2014-2026, a supermarket to anchor the square and increase footfall was on the wish list. But until now, nothing apart from new homes is on the horizon, with up-and-coming developments at Bonnington Walk and Shackleton Heights on the way.
It’s the same for pubs. Lockleaze used to have two pubs; The Gainsborough and the Golden Bottle. But both have been closed for at least five years. There’s also no dedicated coffee shop, although some of the community spaces do offer coffee morning events.
Many of the main roads in Lockleaze are made up of concrete slabs which have become damaged
As for things to do for young people, provision has been cut back due to funding which some say is a factor in reports of antisocial behaviour at the centre of the square.
Inside the busy hair salon - Square Roots Hair Designers - Angela England says: “It’s evident we need a supermarket - I’ve lived here 40 years, I love it, but we need better shops for groceries. Surely with the new homes being built someone will provide that as part of one of the new schemes?”
But it’s not just a lack of shops which is an issue locally. As we walk down Constable Road toward the railway line, Councillor Wilcox points out fly-tipping in the area, with bags of rubbish left outside the boardings around the demolished Golden Bottle pub site.
There’s also a problem with the roads. Due to the geological landscape, concrete slabs were put down for the roads to avoid cracks in the road. But that was more than 50 years ago, and many of the concrete slabs today are damaged and need replacing.
Play facilities inside Gainsborough Square - people want a supermarket off the square.
“We’ve been busy,” smiles councillor Wilcox when I ask what he and his colleague Green Party councillor Heather Mack have done since 2021. The pair have also been focused on the major housing plans for the area, including the Dovercourt development where they’ve put pressure on the developers for an improved safer site entrance.
They also want improved transport services, including a better bus service and a future railway station off Constable Road.
On a map, Lockleaze is a slither between Horfield and the Stoke Park estate. And with its brownfield sites, it’s going to be a key area in the city council’s ambition to provide more homes in the city. Just last week, the council bought the burnt-out Gainsborough pub, which will make way for 47 homes.
What the suburb does have in the absence of shops, pubs and coffee shops is the stunning Stoke Park Estate on its doorstep, and a strong community spirit.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” says Ilanie. “Everyone is so friendly, you get to know people all around you. I might not for everyone, but it’s great for me.”
- ^ nine other high streets in Bristol (www.bristol.gov.uk)
- ^ Lockleaze Voice Neighbourhood Development Plan 2014-2026 (www.bristolnpn.net)