Bristol City Council has scrapped plans for a Populous-designed arena next to Temple Meads station – with a Zaha Hadid Architects scheme in pole position to take over on the site
The council’s cabinet voted in line with an officer recommendation to ‘take all steps necessary’ to cease work on the long-awaited project, which received planning permission in 2016.
The move follows a report in June by consultant KPMG, which said that a better cost:benefit ratio could be achieved by developing the Temple Island site without the sports and music venue, and building an arena on an out-of-town site at Filton.
Councillors said they would now explore plans for a mixed-use development at Temple Island, in partnership with Legal & General, which last month unveiled a scheme designed by Zaha Hadid Architects for the site, proposing 550 homes, two major office buildings and a 345-room hotel.
A business case will be developed to reallocate the £53 million earmarked for the arena project from the Economic Development Fund. It will be submitted to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership for approval.
Bristol deputy mayor for finance, governance and performance Craig Cheney said: ’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 £500 million in economic benefit to our city and create three times the number of jobs for the people of Bristol.’
Mayor Marvin Rees added: ’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.’
There has been much local support for Populous’s arena plans. A petition to see a stadium built at Temple Island attracted more than 6,000 signatures.
MP for Bristol South Karin Smyth has also campaigned for the project to remain. She said last month: ‘Millions of pounds have already been spent on preparations for the arena in city centre, and Bristol has already waited long enough for its own arena. I sincerely hope that we can find a way to keep the much-needed Bristol Arena in the planned location and not waste any more time and money.’
And former Bristol mayor George Ferguson last month launched a ferocious attack on ‘lunatic’ proposals to build a sports and music arena on an out-of-town site.
Defending its proposals in an open letter published on Facebook, scheme promoters Temple Island Arena last month said arenas built in city-centre locations supported city centre retail and leisure destinations already ’under pressure from out-of-town developments’.
Populous declined to comment this morning. The practice led a team including Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and engineering firm BuroHappold, which won the competition for the Bristol Arena project in March 2015, when it was selected ahead of consortia led by Grimshaw, Spain’s IDOM, White Arkitekter and WilkinsonEyre.
Zaha Hadid Architects’ Diesel Depot plans for the site of the proposed but now-scrapped Bristol Arena