Urban farm plan for proposed arena site
WORK on Bristol's long-awaited indoor arena will not get under way for at least another two years – after the land earmarked for the project was handed over to an "urban farm".
The project will be based on derelict land at the back of Temple Meads station, which has been standing empty for decades.
The now-defunct South West Regional Development Agency spent £30 million of taxpayers' cash on preparing the land for a 10,000 seater indoor arena, only to drop the scheme. But it is back on the political agenda after being supported by most of the city's mayoral hopefuls.
The former diesel depot site is in the heart of the recently launched Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Talks have been held with various developers to revive the arena scheme. But with little sign of any breakthrough in the near future the current owner of the land, government quango the Homes and Community Agency, has signed a deal which will see it handed over to charity the Severn Project for the next two years.
Seven polytunnels will be installed on the site, along with flower beds which will be used to grow organic salad for businesses in Bristol.
The project, which will offer work for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, has been lent the land for free, along with a grant of £52,000.
The HCA owns six sites in Bristol following the demise of the Regional Development Agency, including the site next to Temple Meads, which is currently home to the Creative Common tent.
It has stressed that the deal is a temporary one designed to put the land to use while its long-term future is settled.
Severn Project founder Steve Glover said: "We will be using this site to produce enough salad leaves to serve our customers and wholesale markets in Bristol, and are looking to employ more people on the project as a result of this work.
"We hope to be able to make a positive difference to the area, and the lives of people involved in the project."
The HCA has given the charity the £52,000 grant, which will help pay for the installation of the clear plastic tunnels – designed to protect the crops from frost and other hazards – and soil. The project will create at least two new jobs.
The charity currently employs five staff at sites in Keynsham and Whitchurch and supplies restaurants including The Glassboat in Bristol and the Michelin-starred Pony and Trap, near Chew Magna.
HCA head of area David Warburton said: "We want to support temporary, innovative and creative uses of this site and others we own within the Enterprise Zone while longer-term plans are being developed.
"Major work is needed to improve access to the site and its connections with the rest of the Enterprise Zone. Until this work happens, we want the area to be used in a productive and worthwhile way, and this is exactly what the Severn Project will be doing."
Colin Skellett, chairman of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "The focus of our Enterprise Zone is creativity and this is another great example of how creative the people who live and work in our area can be."
City council leader Simon Cook, said: "This is a very worthwhile project that will not only make good use of this currently unused space but will also promote local food growing in urban areas, which is something we're committed to supporting."