Bristol Arena plan takes big step forward as LEP agrees to invest

February 6, 2014

The long-awaited plan to build a 12,000 seat arena in Bristol has taken its most significant step towards reality with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) agreeing to part fund the scheme.

The LEP’s board agreed to invest money from a special economic development fund on the basis that the arena could bring tens of millions of pounds of economic benefit to the Bristol region each year.

The arena is estimated to cost £91m to build. Some £53m will now come from the LEP via its City Deal Economic Development Fund (EDF), and the remaining £38m is expected to come back to the council from operator rental and other related income.

The full funding package was approved by the council's cabinet last month and will go to a meeting of the full council on February 18 as part of the council’s budget proposals.

If approved, the task of appointing an operator for the arena – which will be built in the heart of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, the city’s biggest regeneration project – will start within months. Work could then start on site in early 2016 with completion in 2017.

Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson, who made the arena an election pledge, said: “It's very encouraging that the Local Enterprise Partnership recognises the importance of using the City Deal funding for the development of an arena which will give a massive boost to the local economy.

“The City Deal gives cities the flexibility to use Enterprise Zone business rates to invest in important infrastructure projects and the arena is an essential catalyst for the regeneration of the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. In other cities arenas have been proven to deliver significant benefits to both cities and regions, bringing additional spend and underpinning the national and international reputation of the area.”

LEP chair Colin Skellett added: “The economic benefits to the region from having an arena are well recognised. The Economic Development Fund is there to unlock jobs and growth in the West of England, and the Bristol Arena is one of several projects that will do this.”

The senior partner of property consultants Alder King, which has its largest office in Bristol, welcomed the funding arrangement as the best possible start to 2014 and said it showed that Bristol could deliver major schemes.

Martyn Jones said: “The new arena is fundamental to Bristol’s position and identity and indeed confidence.  As of last summer, we were the largest city in the UK without a large arena-style venue so it’s reassuring that, with a £53m funding package agreed in principle through the LEP’s City Deal, this dubious accolade will soon be consigned to the history books.

“It’s been widely acknowledged that a new arena will inject £110m into the city’s economy over the next 25 years. Equally importantly, it will finally show that Bristol can deliver on major infrastructure projects.”

The Economic Development Fund (EDF) is a fund retained from business rate growth from Enterprise Zones over 25 years that is available for Local Authorities to borrow against. The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) manages the EDF on behalf of the sub-region and its four partner authorities.






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