‘Let’s put Bristol on the world stage’ says YTL, as plans unveiled for UK’s third-largest arena

Formal plans for a 17,000-seat Bristol arena predicted to create 500 jobs and boost the regional economy by £1.5bn over the next 25 years have been submitted today (Tuesday).

Malaysian investment firm YTL Developments has unveiled its blueprint for a state-of-the-art music venue at the Brabazon Hangars site at Filton.

YTL already has a strong West Country presence within its £3bn UK asset portfolio, including Wessex Water, and launched its arena bid after Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees scrapped an earlier proposal for the city’s Temple Island site in 2018.

Little detail of the YTL scheme has been forthcoming until now, but today’s revelations show its project – if approved – would be the third-largest music venue in the UK, behind only Manchester Arena and the O2 in London.

YTL Developments Managing Director Andrew Billingham believes the proposed arena would 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.

He pointed to the £1.8bn generated by the Liverpool Echo Arena for its community in the 10 years since it opened, and the £450m impact of Glasgow Event Campus in 2018 as examples of the financial benefits a city can reap from opening such a venue.

Mr Billingham said: “Our vision is to put Bristol on the world stage for live music and entertainment.

“The birthplace of Concorde, the iconic Brabazon Hangars will be reimagined and brought back to life, celebrating their historic past and reinvented as the home of supersonic for future generations to enjoy.

“The new YTL complex will include the UK’s third-largest arena, a new exhibition hall, and a place where people can eat, drink, work and play.

“Let’s put Bristol on the world stage.”

The YTL Bristol Arena would be part of a wider regeneration of the Filton area.

The YTL arena would 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.

Sebastian Loyn, YTL’s Director of Planning and Development, said: “We are really excited about the integration of the arena into the Brabazon neighbourhood – it’s a real opportunity for both the neighbourhood, Bristol and the South West.”

The wider Brabazon project extends far beyond these arena ambitions, with outline planning permission already granted for 2,675 homes, as well as supporting infrastructure such as three schools, a health centre, parks, a lake and 62 acres of employment space within its 38-acre boundaries.

Bristol City Council – which will make the final decision on YTL’s plans – and neighbouring Gloucestershire County Council will be jointly responsible for making £100m of infrastructure improvements around the wider Filton area.

Already, the YTL blueprint is winning the support of some of the city’s business leaders.

James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce, said: “It would be a big boost, not just for the hotels and restaurants, but also it would bring business and activity into the city; it will attract and retain businesses because they want to be part of a city that’s on the up.

“We want locals to leave with a sense of pride, and visitors from further afield to want to come back for much more.”

The proposed YTL Bristol Arena would help attract world-class sport and entertainment to the city.

Bristol Hoteliers Association, which represents 40 major hotels in the city, has also welcomed the proposals.

The association’s acting-Chairman 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.”