Hotel, homes and housing are a better bet for city centre site, says report – and it's backed by the Chamber of Commerce

August 24 2018
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IN A MOVE that will surprise few who have been following the saga, the council has announced that September 4's vital cabinet meeting will be recommended not to authorise an arena next to Temple Meads station.

IN A MOVE that will surprise few who have been following the saga, the council has announced that September 4's vital cabinet meeting will be recommended not to authorise an arena next to Temple Meads station.

Mayor Marvin Rees welcomed the report, saying: “The process to date has taken us from a completely undeliverable vanity project to having structured, affordable options which all have merits and put less pressure on the public purse. I look forward to discussing the issue in coming weeks and realising an economically-viable, inclusive and sustainable vision for Bristol city centre.”

His view received backing this afternoon from Bristol Chamber of Commerce, whose chair said a Filton arena, and using Arena Island for privately-funded development, represented "best value"

Bristol Chamber of Commerce this afternoon entered the heated debate over the location of the long-delayed Bristol Arena by backing the option to build it at Filton, as reported by Bristol Business News

In a statement released a day after new plans for the original arena site near Temple Meads were unveiled, the chamber’s president Richard Bonner, said it wanted the “best for the city and the economy of the wider city region”. 

He added: “That’s why we support an option that delivers best value derived from the use of public land and borrowing – a high-quality, sustainable mixed development at Temple Island and private sector arena elsewhere, with investment in transport infrastructure.”

Yet a majority of councillors – and, some claim, a majority of Bristolians – favour a Temple Meads arena to bring more vitality and income to the city centre, plus jobs for South Bristol. They also fear that Filton arena will see the economic benefits leak away to Cribbs Causeway and South Gloucestershire.

Earlier today a boss at SMG, one of the firms behind the Temple Meads arena – supposedly the council's in-house plan – said cancelling the city centre venue may mean the city will never get an arena, because the Filton plan is too uncertain.

SMG's John Sharkey told the Voice why he cannot understand the mayor's reasoning. His firm is making a Freedom of Information request to the council to find ut the extent of contacts between the council and Filton firm YTL.

 

The full statement from the council reads:

"Bristol City Council’s Cabinet will consider a report prepared by council officers which recommends using land commonly known as ‘Temple Island’ and ‘Arena Island’ for mixed development other than an arena.

The report will go before Cabinet on 4 September and will also inform debate at Overview Scrutiny and Full Council meetings on 3 September.

Officers are recommending the council explore an alternative mixed use scheme on the site with potential partners, with a view to more developed plans coming back to Cabinet at a later date, and not to progress with proposals for an arena on Temple Island.

The report states the scheme could include a bespoke conference centre and a four or five star hotel, commercial space with supporting retail and residential homes for city centre living, including affordable homes. Proposals of this nature have been put forward by Legal & General, a company which has previously invested £240m in the surrounding Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone area.

The report also recommends that a business case is developed to re-allocate £53m earmarked as public funding for the proposed arena to other targeted schemes in Bristol, including housing and transport infrastructure. This funding is from the government’s Economic Development Fund and, if the Cabinet approve the recommendations on 4 September, a business case would need to be submitted to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for approval.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: “We must make a decision which is evidence-based, set against clear criteria, for inclusive economic growth, jobs and homes, and on the best option which delivers for the future of the city centre. This cannot be a decision that serves political opportunism.
 
“These reports are critical to that process and lay out the facts for all to see. I’d like to thank everyone who has worked hard to support an engaging, informed debate and put real options on the table.

“The process to date has taken us from a completely undeliverable vanity project to having structured, affordable options which all have merits and put less pressure on the public purse. I look forward to discussing the issue in coming weeks and realising an economically-viable, inclusive and sustainable vision for Bristol city centre.”

The full reports including independent technical studies into both options for Temple Island can be found on Bristol City Council’s website.

Petitions and written statements for Cabinet on 4 September must be received by 12 noon on Monday 3 September 2018. One written statement per member of the public is permitted. Written public questions must be received by 5pm on Wednesday 29 August 2018. A maximum of two questions per member of the public is permitted. Questions should be addressed to the Mayor or relevant Cabinet Member. Items for public forum can be sent to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk"