Pressure grows as Arena Island D-Day approaches

August 31 2018

ONE of the most significant decisions on the future shape of Bristol is due to be made next week amid huge controversy.

The city council’s cabinet wants to scrap plans for a long-awaited arena at Temple Meads in favour of a possible alternative development of offices, homes and a conference centre.

Councillors from all parties and many Bristolians are outraged and say the council should go ahead with the promised arena on the site that has long been earmarked for it.

They believe there are many problems with a proposed larger arena on part of the former Filton Airfield site and fear that if the Arena Island scheme is dropped Bristol will never get a big concert venue.

Reports prepared by council officers will be discussed at a meeting of Bristol’s overview and scrutiny committee on Monday September 3 and at an  extraordinary meeting of the full council the same day. A vote will be taken but the final decision will be made by the Mayor, Marvin Rees, at a cabinet meeting the next day. 

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

One of the recommendations is 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.

Mr Rees 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.

“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.”

Green Councillor Paula O'Rourke, who has been co-ordinating cross-party responses to the proposals, urged the Mayor to abide by the vote at full council.

She said: “I couldn’t give two hoots about personality politics, for me this has always been about getting the right decision for Bristol – and that decision is to get on and build an Arena at Temple Island."

The proposals have provoked many comments on social media, where some have said that some of the proposed alternative developments could be build on brownfield sites in Fishponds.

But the overwhelming opinion expressed, including on Greater Fishponds News and Views, is simply: "Get on with it and build the arena at Temple Island as promised."