Even before the Second World War, engineers and planners in Bristol were beginning to think how the city needed to change as more people started to travel by motor car and more goods were being delivered to businesses in larger and larger lorries. The streets of the city had changed very little since the medieval period so were often very narrow and windy.
During the war many parts of the central area of the city were badly damaged or completely destroyed by aerial bombing. After the war, this then made it easier to think about creating wider roads, but also decreased property values in some parts of the city so that the council could buy land for new roads.
By the late 1960s the inner city ring road consisting of a wide dual carriageway linking big roundabouts at Redcliffe Way, Old Market and St James Barton was complete. Alongside these big roads new large offices and shops were being built like the former Lewisís building (now Primark) and the former Jonesís department store (now Debenhams). In 1967 planning permission was granted for a comprehensive redevelopment of the St James Barton area that had remained semi derelict since the bomb damage of the Second World War. This redevelopment included plans for what became known as the Bearpit with underpasses linking Broadmead to the bus station and Stokes Croft.
On the bus station side two levels of shops were planned alongside and below the towering office building of Avon House (now Premier Inn). For many years the Haymarket retailers included some popular shops like Replay Records.
On the Stokes Croft side another large office building, Avon House North (now 51°02 and the Holiday Inn) was planned to bridge North Street. This became council offices for Avon County Council in the 1970s. Originally the plans for Avon House North were for a longer building to include the southern side of Brunswick Square, but this was never completed.