Wraps come off as Chocolate Quarter opens doors - PICTURES

Published on: 01 Dec 2017

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Wraps come off as Chocolate Quarter opens doors

A new era has begun at Keynsham’s former chocolate factory as its first residents move in and new restaurants and businesses open their doors to the public.

Construction work on the £60 million Chocolate Quarter development is complete and was opened by St Monica Trust at the end of November.

The Bristol-based care provider has created a 93-bed care home and 136 retirement apartments in two of the former Fry’s factory’s three blocks – but the concept at the heart of the scheme is to bring the generations together, says the trust, by opening up its facilities to the public.

Among them is a spa, gym, swimming pool, cinema, hair and nail salons, a barber’s, craft studios for pottery, woodwork and art and a new pizzeria, B Block.

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To celebrate the launch of the Chocolate Quarter, a community open day is being held on Saturday, December 2, from 10am to 4pm. Visitors on the day can expect pizza demonstrations, smoothie masterclasses, kids’ film screenings as well as the opportunity to find out more about gym membership, salon services, art classes and the chance to explore the residential show homes.

The concept of a community hub that contains a retirement complex came from speaking to older people about what they wanted from their accommodation, said trust chief executive David Williams.

“What we see here is the result of a huge number of focus groups with older people and downsizers talking about what they wanted. They all said they didn’t want a segregated community. The community in Keynsham is really strong with a real mix of generations, and that’s what they wanted to see here.

“All the areas have been designed to meet the needs of a variety of generations and the feedback we’ve had has been fantastic. It’s been great to see B Block packed with mums and children and residents, for example.

“We believe it’s the first time anyone’s attempted with a project of this kind to make community integration the starting point.”

He added: “The site has historically played such an important role in the local community and with the Chocolate Quarter we want to restore that, breathing new life into this community hub for Keynsham while building new homes tailored to the needs of aspirational older people.”

So far, 54 per cent of the one-and two-bedroom apartments have sold, with 61 properties remaining. Meanwhile, St Peter’s Hospice is settled into one floor of the care home, Charterhouse, as its Brentry site undergoes redevelopment.

Eye-catching features inside the buildings include an indoor garden area, complete with bandstand, table tennis, plenty of greenery and a play area for young visitors. There is also a glamorous piano lounge, a roof terrace and plenty of nods to the buildings’ 1920s origins with art deco furnishings.

The Cecil Fry Room is one reminder of the site’s days as a thriving chocolate factory, as are the many images on the walls from previous decades, while Mondelez, the company that now owns Cadbury’s, has agreed to share artefacts from factory days to create a “living museum” at the Chocolate Quarter.

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