Delay could kill arena plan, says Ferguson

Published on: 03 Mar 2016

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DEFERRING the arena project in order to obtain a detailed travel plan would take a long time and could kill the whole plan, mayor George Ferguson has said.

 If councillors do not quickly revisit their decision to delay approval of the arena, it will cost the city up to a million pounds and risk the whole showpiece development, the mayor said.

 He accused councillors on the development control committee, who shelved the arena scheme citing transport worries on March 2, as politically motivated.

 “it’s a perfect example of why it takes so long to get anything done in this city,” he told the Voice.

 Mr Ferguson denied the arena scheme was being rushed through without major questions on travel being worked out.

 Councillors were worried at the lack of detail on extending public transport, park and ride, installing residents parking schemes, the dangerously narrow footway on Bath Road, and several other points.

 Mr Ferguson said it was perfectly normal for these details not to have been worked out yet. All the councillors’ concerns could have been satisfied if they had set strict planning conditions, he said.

 “The professional advice, and my knowledge of architecture and development, is that this could have been dealt with by conditions,” said Mr Ferguson.

It is not clear how long it will take for the detailed travel plan which councillors asked for to be produced – probably months. Each week the arena is delayed costs the developer – the council £80,000 a week.

Mr Ferguson wants councillors on the development control committee to revisit their decision at their next meeting in April. It is far from certain this will happen or that the planning application will be passed without the travel scheme being spelled out.

 Mr Ferguson was speaking on March 3 as he helped to launch a “spatial framework” for Temple Quarter enterprise zone (TQEZ). This is the 70 hectare site around Temple Meads, stretching along Bath Road to Paintworks, which is earmarked to provide 17,000 jobs over the next 25 years.

 With the arena at its heart – assuming it wins planning permission – the TQEZ will create dozens of new buildings for work, homes and commercial use.

 It will require new foot and cycleways and will need to increase public transport use dramatically to ensure that roads do not become clogged.

 It will also create a new waterside oasis called Totterdown Basin – currently a neglected stretch of the Feeder Canal which could become a haven for wildlife and for leisure.

The April editions of South Bristol Voice will provide full coverage of the proposals for the Temple Quarter – and how they will affect South Bristol.

  • GOT A QUESTION FOR THE MAYOR or the other mayoral candidates? All the mayoral candidates will be answering six questions put to them by readers of South Bristol Voice.

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• You can read details of the proposals for Temple Quarter, and make comments until April 14, here  

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