Construction News

Tue December 01 2020

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Bristol scraps arena plans

6 Sep 18 Bristol City Council has abandoned plan for a 12,000 capacity concert arena in the face of rising costs and is looking instead to build an alternative mixed-use development.

The Populous-design Bristol Arena will not now be built at Temple Island
The Populous-design Bristol Arena will not now be built at Temple Island

The new plans for the Temple Island site, tentative at this stage, envisage a conference centre, a hotel, housing, offices and retail.

The council is now set to explore the alternative mixed use scheme with Legal & General as potential partner, a company that has previously invested £240m in the surrounding Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone area. Developed plans will come back to Cabinet at a later da

Bouygues UK was lined up in 2016 to build the Bristol Arena but failed to agree terms with the council. At that stage the budget was £95m and the main construction contract put at nearly £80m.

Buckingham Group Contracting was then given a pre-construction services deal but still the plans could not be delivered even for an increased budget of £123.5m. In November 2017 KPMG was commissioned to review the project. By January 2018 spending on the project had topped £10m, excluding KPMG’s fees.

The council has now decided to look at alternate plans for the site (illustrated below), a former diesel depot next to Temple Meads station.

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The new vision for Temple Island
The new vision for Temple Island

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees 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.”

Cllr Craig Cheney, deputy mayor for finance, added: “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 £500m in economic benefit to our city and create three times the number of jobs for the people of Bristol.”

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