YTL submits Bristol Arena plan with promise to develop ‘year-round entertainment venue’

November 22, 2019

YTL, the Malaysian industrial conglomerate, has vowed that its Bristol Arena scheme will give the city a “365-day entertainment destination” as it submitted the much-delayed project for planning permission.

The firm, which owns Filton Airfield – where it is developing a major new housing and employment scheme – said the entertainment complex would create more than 500 jobs and inject £1.5bin into the local economy over 25 years, as well as raise the profile of the city and wider region.

YTL’s plans – which use the iconic Brabazon Hangars on the airfield – represent the latest chapter in the long-running saga to build an arena in Bristol.

Plans for a Bristol Arena on land near Temple Meads railway station were officially announced as far back as 2003 – although the concept was being considered in the 1990s.

However the idea for a 10,000-seat venue was abandoned in 2007 – only to berevived two years later but with the possibility of it being built at Ashton Vale in the south of the city

A 12,000-seat facility was proposed by the Mayor George Ferguson back near Temple Meads – on land then dubbed Arena Island – before that scheme too was shelved by incoming Mayor Marvin Rees while a value-for-money report was written.

In November 2017 the Brabazon Hangar was named as a potential alternative site for an arena by YTL and the Temple Meads site was ruled out by Mayor Rees in September last year.

The three hanger buildings, which have a total floorspace of 28,000 sq m, will be restored and transformed into a major arena, exhibition and leisure space all under one roof, it said. The hangars, built in 1946, have stood empty since 2009

The 17,080-capacity arena will be in the Central Hangar – making it the UK’s third largest after Manchester and the O2.

The East Hangar will house a new Festival Hall – a flat-floor event space for conventions, exhibitions. It will work in tandem with the arena to attract large-scale events.

The West Hangar will be renamed as The Hub and will become a place to eat, work and play, according to YTL, with leisure facilities, food and drink and a base for small or start-up businesses.

The plans were this week submitted to Bristol City and South Gloucestershire councils. If the proposals are given the go ahead, YTL plans to open the doors of the new complex to the public in early 2023.

YTL Arena Complex managing director Andrew Billingham said: “YTL’s commitment is demonstrated as we submit our exciting plans to deliver a 100% privately funded entertainment complex for Bristol.’

“We’re building much more than just an arena – it’s a 365-day entertainment destination inside the that will create new jobs, bring new business to the region and enhance Bristol’s position as a leading European city.”

YTL said sustainability would be a key focus. The plans include zero waste to landfill, harvesting rainwater and installing solar panels on the vast roof area.

It claims by repurposing the existing hangars, the proposals will save more than 18,600 tonnes of carbon emissions alone while the development of a landscape strategy will be sympathetic to the local surroundings and the approved former Filton Airfield scheme.

YTL Developments director of planning & development Seb Loyn said: “YTL Developments is already beginning to transform the former Filton Airfield into a thriving new neighbourhood for Bristol, known as Brabazon.

“The YTL Arena Complex will be connected to and complement this new urban community, creating a place where every generation can live, work and play.”

A new train station due to open in 2021 and a new Metrobus service, both serving the new Brabazon neighbourhood and within 500m of the proposed arena complex, will create transport links to the city centre.

Andrew added: “We’ll encourage our visitors to use public transport where possible. As YTL will manage the Complex we will be able to discourage car use and encourage other forms of transport through incentives and ticketing strategies.”

YTL’s plans were welcomed by the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), which represents 40 major hotels in the city.

BHA acting chair Raphael Herzog said: “The developers have spoken about this being a 365-day-of-the-year venue, which would be an amazing addition to the city’s cultural offering, and create a lot of interest from people visiting the area.

“Major events like a big-name music concert provide only a brief boost to business when they happen. But if the plans really do involve attracting significant numbers of people all year round, then that has tremendous potential for the local economy.”

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