A major new entertainment arena looks set to be built in Bristol at last, after ambitious plans for a 17,000-capacity venue earned a green light from planners.
Malaysian investment firm YTL Developments will build the new arena – which is predicted to create up to 700 jobs and boost the city economy by £2.2bn over 25 years – at the Brabazon Hangars site in Filton.
Earlier proposals for venues in the heart of the city have failed, but the Brabazon blueprint was approved by Bristol City Council this week.
The arena will now form a centrepiece of the wider Brabazon regeneration plan, which also includes 2,675 homes, three schools, a health centre, parks, a lake and 62 acres of employment space.
YTL Arena Bristol’s Managing Director Andrew Billingham said: “We’re delighted that the council has entrusted us with this brilliant opportunity to put Bristol on the world stage. It is a huge step forward for our plans.
“We are committed to delivering a venue that everyone can be proud of and that will benefit not just Bristol, but the whole of the wider city region. It will be both financial and environmentally sustainable. It will be flexible to attract a wide range of events to suit all interests, from music and sport to comedy and family entertainment.
“We’re incredibly grateful to all those who have supported us and encouraged us on this journey.”
The YTL Arena will become the third-largest music venue in the UK, behind only Manchester Arena and the O2 in London.
It will be capable of attracting world-class music, shows and sporting events, as well as pulling an extra 1.4 million visitors to Bristol each year.
The arena will also be complemented by two other hangar redevelopments – named Festival Hall and The Hub – in an entertainment complex also offering capacity for events, conferences, and exhibitions, plus visitor attractions and food and drink offerings.
A new train station and MetroBus route would also be created to link the arena to the city centre.
The decision has been greeted warmly by the city’s business leaders.
James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative at Bristol West – a body representing some 22,000 member businesses – and says an arena is something the city has long-needed.
He said: “We know this arena complex will create a much-needed major venue and facility for the city, and indeed this part of the UK, increasing our cultural, sporting, visitor and business offer, and putting Bristol on the map as a key European destination for events and exhibitions. It’s something we have long cried out for.
“An arena complex in these enormous Hangars will be able to attract a wide variety of major and smaller events, both at weekends and during the week, attracting visitors to Bristol and the wider region from far afield and almost 365 days a year.
“The top-line acts who currently bypass us for Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham. Many of these events, particularly those that use the arena and the Festival Hall, will last for more than one day and will therefore attract people from afar who will stay the night, benefitting our local economy.”