Bristol could get 12,000-seat arena by 2016
BRISTOL could get its long- awaited indoor arena within the next four years, the Post has discovered.
The 12,000-seater concert venue would be built on derelict land at the back of Temple Meads station at a cost of up to £80 million and would be one of the biggest in the country.
A conference of business leaders and planners were given details of the scheme today and the people behind the project say they have been holding talks with entertainment operators interested in backing the project.
Bristol is one of the few major cities in the country not to have a major venue and business leaders have claimed the city's economy has suffered as a result.
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The arena is part of a multi-million-pound set of proposals to improve the area around Temple Meads station. The Local Enterprise Partnership, which is made up of business and council leaders, launched the Enterprise Zone in the spring with the backing of the Government.
The aim is to attract hundreds of new businesses into the area along with new venues, restaurants, bars, shops and housing. The first detailed plans for the project were made public this morning at the event which was held at Brunel's famous Passenger Shed next to the railway station.
The proposals include a remodelling of the road network in and around Temple Meads station, the new arena, new road bridges, a major revamp of Temple Meads and the creation of a new public transport interchange.
The LEP is looking for around £20 million of funding to pay for improvements to the infrastructure in the area and a bid has gone in to central government for the cash.
The master plan for the Enterprise Zone has been drawn up by Bristol City Council and will give city planners a blue print to work off for the next two decades.
It is hoped the £20 million from central government will help pay for junction improvements, vehicle access links, bridges, walkways, public spaces and the remodelling of Temple Circus roundabout to improve traffic flow.
Colin Skellett, chair of the West of England LEP, has been overseeing the project and said an announcement on funding is expected next month.
A feasibility study is being drawn up for the 12,000-seat arena on the former diesel depot site which is expected to cost between £60 million and £80 million.
The study will look at market demand for an arena and operator interest. A project funding model will be developed, together with procurement and delivery solutions. The plan is to start building the arena in autumn 2014, with work estimated to take around 18 months.
The land was owned by the South West Regional Development Agency who spent £20 million on decontaminating the land only to dump the project. The Homes and Community Association has since taken over as owner of the land.
Mr Skellett said: "Our ambition is to make Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone a superbly connected entry to Bristol and a hub for creative, high technology and low carbon companies, creating a catalyst for economic development.
"Since we officially opened the Enterprise Zone for business six months ago, an enormous amount of work has been going on behind the scenes by all the partners to drive the project forward.
"We have also taken a major step towards securing jobs, growth and investment with the signing of the City Deal a couple of weeks ago, which will help us deliver an additional 40,000 jobs and over £1 billion of investment to our region over the next 25 years."
Simon Cook, the leader of Bristol City Council, said: "Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone is an unparalleled opportunity to create a new 21st century quarter in the heart of Bristol.
"Once we have an announcement on our £20 million infrastructure bid next month, we will be able to start delivering the package of infrastructure works needed to support the Spatial Framework and speed up the development of the zone."
The other key players in the project, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Network Rail, also gave updates on their areas of work at the event.
David Warburton, HCA head of area, said: "We've made considerable progress over the last year to help prepare the Enterprise Zone for a transformation into a destination of choice for creative organisations.
"Our work to transform the former vacant land into a live events and performance space for Creative Common has attracted more than 11,000 visitors to the Zone in recent months while the long-term future of our sites is to be determined."
Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail's Western route managing director, said: "Today provides the people of Bristol with an opportunity to see the progress so far in this landmark project at Bristol Temple Meads station.
"We want to use their input and views to help shape the future of their station."