Bristol businesses back positive decision on future of Temple Island

James Durie
Chief Executive - Bristol Chamber & Initiative | Business West
3rd September 2018

Business leaders are supporting proposals to deliver major new development of employment space, jobs and homes on the site earmarked for Bristol’s arena. 

They back recommendations from Bristol City Council officers to use land in the heart of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone for an alternative development which would unlock thousands of jobs, hundreds of homes and hundreds of millions of pounds in investment. 

The council’s cabinet will consider recommendations to explore an alternative to a 12,000-capacity arena at Temple Island on Tuesday, 4 September. If agreed, it opens the possibility for a hotel, conference centre and 460 new and affordable homes to be delivered on the site, creating around 1,500 additional jobs for the city. 

Meanwhile, YTL proposes to fund and deliver a 16,000-capacity arena at the Brabazon hangars on Filton Airfield, where significant new development and investment in transport infrastructure is already taking place.

Richard Bonner, President of Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative, said: “We have looked over the last few weeks at all the information available and support the option that delivers best value derived from the use of public land and borrowing - which is a high quality, sustainable mixed development at Temple Island.”

He added: “We want to clearly signal our strong interest as a business community to see a high quality major conferencing facility brought forward within a high quality mixed use development at Temple Island. We know this will bring a lot of new business to Bristol, support our existing businesses and drive employment and opportunities for people living in the city.  

“This enables a larger arena to be brought forward in Filton by the private sector, with an exciting reuse of the existing Brabazon hangars, with the necessary investment into transport infrastructure. 

“We hope the Mayor of Bristol, his cabinet, council and partners seize the opportunities presented by this new approach and that development can proceed swiftly at Temple Island, alongside an arena elsewhere in the city.”

The option of delivering a 16,000-capacity arena at Filton is supported by board members at Destination Bristol. Chief Executive John Hirst said: “Destination Bristol has consulted Board members re Bristol Arena.

“The majority believe the best opportunity for an arena to be delivered in Bristol is at the proposed Brabazon site.” 

Bristol business owner and immediate past president of the Bristol Property Agents Association John Sisman said: “Bristol has an opportunity to deliver two world class developments for the city: a larger world class arena and a conference centre and business space at Temple Island which adds a complimentary new dimension to the important development taking place there. This is an opportunity that the city should grasp.”

Mr Sisman, director and founder of Sisman Property Consultants, added: “Of course, it’s important that the best option for Temple Island, which delivers the best outcome for future generations, is chosen. 

“Whatever decision is made, I hope that swift progress can be made so that Bristol benefits from the world class developments it deserves.”

Paul Brown, founder and CEO of international direct mail specialists MHI, has established a successful business with factories and offices in Feeder Road, Bristol. 

He said: “An arena at Temple Island no longer represents the best use of the site, or the public finance needed to deliver it. 

“We need a vibrant, affordable place to employ people of all ages and backgrounds as we evolve in the world of global trade and are all aware that the city needs employment opportunities and affordable housing. The city has an opportunity to deliver this with the vision for development that was recently put forward.

“Most recent development plans for affordable housing and business would be a hugely positive move for the site and would tie in well with the university’s development of the Royal Mail building. 

“I hope that a decision is based on the best use for the land for the city of Bristol in the short, medium and long term.” 

Marti Burgess, head of corporate at Gregg Latchams, co-owner of Lakota, and trustee at Colston Hall, said: “The evidence I have seen suggests that Bristol could gain more, at a lower cost, if there is a mixed-use development on the Temple Island site, compared to an arena and associated venues.  

“My understanding is that, if a conference centre, a hotel, new homes and business space are built on Temple Island then this will create more jobs and cost the city £120m less than an arena would at Temple Island. This investment could be used in other ways to provide things the city and its citizens need which seems like a positive step. And, of course, if YTL develops an arena in Filton then we are heading towards having the ingredients for a world class city.”

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