Arena decision day nears
AN extraordinary session of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Board has convened to consider the Bristol Arena Value for Money reports compiled by KPMG.
Three meetings took place on Monday June 18, Wednesday June 20 and Friday June 22, where councillors considered statements and questions, the Temple Island arena, alternative development plans for Temple Island and plans for an arena in Filton, as well as the board’s feedback to Cabinet.
The long-awaited report states that the overall cost of a city centre arena has spiraled to £188 million and that the Temple Quarter site would produce more money and jobs if it were to be used for a conference centre and housing. However, it also reports that a city centre arena would increase the cultural offer of the region and would be profitable.
In the first meeting, councillors were told that Bristol City Council had been offered £55 million of funding from a company called Arena Island Ltd (a joint venture between venue operators SMG and Live Nation) to help build an arena in the city centre, which had been “turned down” without explanation.
Malaysian investment firm YTL has said Bristol City Council would have to exclusively back its plans for an arena if Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees chooses Filton Airfield as the new home for the venue next month if it decides to take up the offer of private funding for the project.
Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze Councillor Geoff Gollop is chairing the council scrutiny board that is looking at the Value for Money reports on the proposed arena. The board has concluded two of its three scheduled meetings and Geoff says: “There appears to be a fair degree of consensus among members. We see that the proposed arena at Temple Meads is a fully developed project that is ready to start, and that the alternative proposal is very much at its early stages.
“Temple Meads has planning permission, has funding substantially in place and has been assessed for the impact of traffic. The proposals for an arena at Filton on the other hand are at the early stages, with no detailed plans submitted for approval, the need for public money to be spent to enhance a private developer’s site and no study of the traffic and pollution impact on North Bristol.
“Members are finding it hard to understand how the Filton project with so much uncertainty can be compared with the detailed information available at Temple Meads and are concerned that choosing Filton will delay the arena for many more years and threaten trade in and around the City Centre. “The decision however lies with the Mayor who has said he will issue his proposals on 25 June and make his decision at Cabinet on 3 July.”