Bristol City Council’s Cabinet has scrapped plans to build a new arena in the centre of the city.
They have decided to explore plans for a mixed development on Temple Island instead of an arena.
The decision follows a recommendation by officers to investigate an alternative scheme which could include a bespoke conference centre and a four or five star hotel, commercial spaces with supporting retail and residential homes for city centre living, and affordable homes on the site next to Bristol Temple Meads.
It also opens the way for a paves the way for a privately funded arena at the Brabazon hangar on Filton Airfield.
Bristol City Council passed a motion in favour of the Temple Island scheme on Monday but at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said spending more than £150m on an arena was too risky. He said:
We need to move forward now and ensure Bristol is fit for the demands of a modern, thriving and well connected city. I am confident an alternative development for Temple Island is at the heart of that vision and will create inclusive economic growth, jobs and homes. Jobs and affordable homes are the key priorities for delivery by my administration and they will come first.
By not borrowing the huge sums needed to build the arena, we will also release capital for other exciting city projects.
I remain committed to delivering an arena for Bristol and we will continue to work closely with our partners to make sure that we make this a reality.
Cabinet Member for property, Cllr Craig Cheney, deputy mayor for finance, governance and performance said:
I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to such a lively debate about the use of the Temple Island site, particularly those who brought hard evidence forward. We all want the very best for Bristol and the democratic process has shown how much our citizens care about future developments in their city.
It is the council’s duty to seek the best possible value for public money and the greatest economic benefit for Bristol and this has been central to the decision. We cannot ignore the evidence which shows that a mixed use scheme on Temple Island would bring an extra £500 million in economic benefit to our city and create three times the number of jobs for the people of Bristol.
We are committed to developing and sustaining a thriving city centre and the emerging options for the alternative scheme offer the lasting economic and social benefit we desperately need in Bristol. We now have the opportunity to deliver a development that raises the bar in terms of quality, sustainability and economic impact.
The council is now set to explore the alternative mixed use scheme with potential partners Legal & General, a company which has previously invested £240m in the surrounding Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone area. Developed plans will come back to Cabinet at a later date.
A business case will also be developed for the re-allocation to other projects of the £53m Economic Development Fund (EDF) money earmarked for the arena project. The business case will be submitted to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership for approval.