Green light for Bristol arena: the debate

April 07 2016

Some quotes from the debate on April 6, when councillors on Bristol’s development control committee voted unanimously to approve detailed planning permission for the arena, and outline permission for Arena Island

Picture: Map of the 20-minute walking zone from the arena site. The yellow area is where residents parking restrictions will be considered. This is not a map of the exact RPS area; that will be decided by public consultation over the summer.


Some quotes from the debate on April 6, when councillors on Bristol’s development control committee voted unanimously to approve detailed planning permission for the arena, and outline permission for Arena Island


Eileen Means, Labour councillor, Brislington West: “Residents  are entirely in favour of an arena but you don’t recognise the concerns over the A4 and the A37.

“Residents haven’t been so concerned about anything since Wick Road library was threatened and they made the mayor do a U-turn. So be aware that when Bridlington wakes up, it roars!

“Bath and Wells roads are congested already. To have a 12,000 seat arena, at rush hour times it’s just not going to work.”


Gary Hopkins, Lib-Dem councillor and party leader, Knowle: “We are the people who are going to be affected by this.

“[At the moment] there is not a problem parking, especially during the day. Residents now realise that there is likely to be [a parking problem after the arena opens], especially in the evenings and weekends.

“Residents are quite happy to look at a residents parking scheme (RPS).

“But if a developer was putting up a block of flats, and it brought the need for a zebra crossing, would you then go to the residents and ask them for a pound a week [to pay for it]?

“Why should residents pay for the mitigation that is not their fault?

“The boundary of any RPS area should be negotiated by residents. We want the neighbourhood partnerships to make sure that it isn’t run at a profit.

“The Three Lamps junction needs a proper detailed plan [to look at the options].

“It is ludicrous that we carry on dragging traffic down from Wells Road and past the arena site and then back up again to get to the Bath Road.

“It’s bad at the moment but it’s going to be 10 times worse when the arena traffic arrives.

“We need a detailed investigation of the options for Three Lamps. Officers have said they don’t think it would be a good idea. They haven’t got the answers because they haven’t done the detailed work.

“On the Bath Road there is an extremely dangerous pavement and it needs to be massively widened.

“This Bath Road Promenade is talked about [in the proposals for the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone] but there is no detail of how that would be built or paid for.

“We have already had fatalities [on Bath Road] and if this is not done there will be more fatalities.

“Having a couple of stewards and plastic cones in the road is not the way to deal with it.”


Matt Barnes, regional development manager, GWR: recognises the need for later evening services to serve the arena, and is keen to strengthen them, particularly in the corridors to Weston-super-Mare and Bath, as well as using improvements in the suburban lines, including from Portbury Park & Ride.


James Freeman, managing director of First: looking at extra buses from the east of the city to the enterprise zone, and extra buses to serve events.

“Integrated ticketing, to get transport as part of the arena ticket, that is really key – though that is funded is another question.”


Andrew Brown, Lib-Dem council candidate for Windmill Hill: “We urge you to approve the arena but to make sure it doesn’t just work for the owners and developers, that it works for the local residents.”



Peter Abraham, Conservative councillor and chair of the development control committee: “This particular area has been a blot on the landscape for a very long time. I look forward to an arena that almost everyone wants to see. At this stage we cannot dot all the ‘I’s and cross all the ’T's but we have put in place sufficient comeback.

“We have to manage it so that it’s an asset to residents and not something that they deeply regret. Obviously public transport is going to be key.

“We are not going to be pressured by the mayor or anyone into making hasty planning decisions that we are not comfortable with.”


Laurence Fallon, transport development manager, Bristol city council: “We do recognise the [Bath Road] footway as a problem. It’s an immense cost [to build the Bath Road Promenade] and that is going to be looked at in the future.”

On pick-ups and drop offs: major improvements planned in Albert Road, Feeder Road and surrounding streets to allow coach and taxi stops, and allow cars to drop off and pick up event goers. The current use of pavement parking in St Philip’s “needs to be attended to”.

On the siting of bus stops: “While it would be great to have Park & Ride stops right outside the arena, the distance is a comfortable walking distance but it also allows the crowd to thin out so that you don’t have 1,000 people at a bus stop, which would be chaos.”

On parking restrictions: residents in different areas may need different regimes, because some areas like Bedminster East already have RPS, which are currently daytime only.

“We believe that 20 minutes walking time is a suitable ‘starter for 10’ [as a guide to where RPS may be needed] but this will be subject to public consultation.”

On reducing traffic: use of various schemes to increase take-up of park and ride is aimed to reduce car trips by up to 1,100, and cut car use by arena goers from a worst case of 83 per cent to 57 per cent.

On cycle use: actual cycle use by arena goers may be higher than expected, because the figures are based on experience at city arenas like Nottingham, where fewer people cycle than in Bristol.


Stephen Clarke, Green councillor, Southville, on plans for stewards to prevent people exiting the arena onto Bath Road: “I have been to lots of football and rugby matches. While this [the plan for stewarding] might work for OneDirection fans, it probably won’t work if it’s Bruce Springsteen or the Rolling Stones.

“This isn’t going to happen, people are just going to run across the road and i’m concerned about people being knocked over.”

On who pays for the RPS permits: “Could we decide on principle that the cost is for the developer to pay?”


Laurence Fallon: The developer may not be expected to mitigate the cost of the entire scheme when the arena will not be causing all of the parking impact, for example the cost of running RPS during daytime.

“There will be heavy stewarding on Bath Road. I don’t believe that anyone who runs through a line of stewards is particularly sensible. You cannot legislate for people who want to ignore or evade stewards. You cannot stop everyone. But we can ensure that there is good signage [and other measures].”


Charles Lucas, Conservative councillor and mayoral candidate: “This [proposal] is much, much better, this is all we wanted in the first place.”


Helen Holland, Labour councillor: “To have park and ride schemes working on evenings and Sundays is fantastic, we have been talking about this for such a long time.”

“We really need to learn from the mistakes made when RPS was brought in around the Ashton Gate stadium and have some very detailed conversations with the neighbourhood partnerships.

“For example, if around Ashton Gate the RPS had run until 6pm it would give people the chance to get home [and park] before the influx.”


Dr Mark Wright, Lib-Dem councillor: asked whether conditions could be imposed to require detailed traffic modelling of the effect of arena traffic on Three Lamps, and for the running costs of RPS to be paid by the developer.


Peter Mann, transport director, Bristol city council: “There is no direct relationship between the costs  of an RPS scheme and the costs of permits. I would be nervous about a condition of this nature.”


Peter Abraham: “I’m nervous about it too,” (a condition requiring developers to pay all the costs of RPS for residents).


The idea found little support, with other councillors arguing that residents near another major development, such as Southmead hospital or a supermarket, could argue that it had caused their parking problems and so the developer should pay for the RPS.

When proposed as a condition that the arena developer should pay for RPS, it attracted only two votes.


Laurence Fallon: Adding a right turn at Three Lamps from Wells Road to Bath Road would cause extra delays for traffic inbound and outbound on the A4 during the extra red light phase. the extra traffic brought by the arena alone would not justify the change; however the 17,000 jobs expected in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone will mean that changes at Three Lamps can be looked at in the future.


Margaret Hickman, Labour councillor: asked for apprenticeships and training to be provided to local people when the arena is constructed. “I don’t want them to be lost, because that alleviated some anxieties in the local community.”


Zoe Willcox, director of planning at Bristol city council: “They are very close to signing with the developer an exemplary approach on training, the very best that we have had in this city. We expect that it will set the bar very high.”