Landmark deal to create a shop front for Bristol
BRISTOL'S "centre of gravity" is slowly shifting towards Temple Meads, according to the city's mayor George Ferguson.
He was underlining the importance of the deal which was signed yesterday to invest £1.5 million in Brunel's Engine Shed and which will breathe new life into the run-down area around Temple Meads station.
The city council has agreed to invest the money into the iconic building which fronts onto the A4 Bath Road and next to the access road to the station so it can be transformed into a "shop-front for Bristol and the surrounding area".
Mr Ferguson said: "The deal is vitally important in attracting jobs and investment to the city. It will encourage firms to relocate in the Bristol and Bath area.
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"The message this sends out is that Bristol is the best city in which to invest.
"I think we will begin to see the city's centre of gravity move towards Temple Meads due to the local enterprise partnership initiative."
In the years ahead, Temple Meads is likely to emerge as a transport hub for trains, buses and the proposed rapid bus system.
This, together with commercial growth which will see hundreds of new jobs in the area and including the new council offices in the nearby former London Life building, will see Temple Meads emerge as the city's new epicentre.
The Engine Shed, which was previously used as the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum, was built by Brunel as the terminal for his Great Western Railway and opened in 1842.
Once renovated, it will be the home of the newly-launched Invest in Bristol and Bath organisation which will be made up of representatives from the area's four unitary councils and be tasked with attracting investors to Bristol from across the UK and the rest of the world.
The building will also house the UK Trade & Investment agency – which is responsible for helping business looking to win trade abroad.
The deal was signed by Mr Ferguson and Professor Eric Thomas, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol.
The building itself will be managed by Bristol SETsquared – the University of Bristol-run business organisation. SETsquared will take up most of the building and will manage offices for the high growth, technology businesses it has helped to set up.
Around 20 companies will move into the refurbished building with a further 40 businesses using the centre's resources and facilities including hot desks, breakout spaces and meeting rooms.
The area around the station has been designated as an Enterprise Zone and the aim is to attract hundreds of new creative and digital firms creating thousands of new jobs in the process.