Plans submitted for airfield arena complex

Visualisation of the proposed new pedestrian bridge leading over the railway line and into the Arena hangar.

The company behind the redevelopment of the former Filton Airfield has submitted plans to create the UK’s third biggest entertainment arena complex within three redundant hangars on the site.

YTL Developments (UK) Ltd has submitted a suite of four planning applications to Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council – proposing a repurposing of the enormous Brabazon Hangars, the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the adjacent railway line, the provision of a temporary car park for 2,000 vehicles and highway improvements to allow access for service vehicles.

The developer says the new complex will create more than 500 new jobs and inject £1.5 billion into the local economy over 25 years.

Managing director of YTL Arena Complex, Andrew Billingham, said:

“YTL’s commitment is demonstrated as we submit our exciting plans to deliver a 100 percent privately funded entertainment complex for Bristol. It uses the 28,000sqm floorspace of all three hangars to create something unique in the south west: an arena, exhibition and leisure space all under one roof.”

Three venues in one

The arena will be in the Central Hangar and with 17,080 capacity, it will be the third largest in the UK after Manchester and the O2. The East Hangar will house a new Festival Hall, a flat floor event space for conventions, exhibitions and working in tandem with the arena to attract large scale events. The West Hangar, The Hub, will be a place to eat, work and play, with leisure facilities, food and drink and home to small or start-up businesses.

Mr Billingham continued:

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

“Sustainability is a key focus. Our plans include zero waste to landfill, harvesting rainwater and installing solar panels on the vast roof area. By repurposing the existing hangars, the proposals will save more than 18,600 tonnes of carbon emissions alone. The development of a landscape strategy will be sympathetic to the local surroundings and the approved former Filton Airfield scheme.”

Director of planning and development at YTL Developments, Seb Loyn, said:

“We are 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.”

Transport considerations

A new train station on the Henbury Spur 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.

Shuttle buses will be in operation for the largest events, ferrying visitors to the site from Bristol city centre and various park & ride locations. However, the submitted plans show that up to 80 percent of visitors are expected to travel by private car (either directly to the venue or to a park & ride location), raising concerns about the impact on the local road network.

A temporary car park on the former airfield’s runway will accommodate up to 2,000 vehicles, but this will eventually be replaced by a permanent multi-storey car park elsewhere on the Brabazon site.

Mr Billingham 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.”

Community engagement activities over the past 12 months have seen nearly 2,000 people visit the Brabazon Hangars to see and hear about YTL’s plans, and the developer’s team has visited locations across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Mr Billingham concluded:

“We’ve been encouraged by the overwhelming public support for our plans, with the results of a recent survey showing 96.4 percent in full support, and 99.9 percent just wanting an arena in Bristol to be proud of.”

“We’ll create an entertainment destination for the South West of England that puts Bristol on the world stage and creates the ultimate night out.”

If the proposals are given the go ahead, YTL plans to be opening the doors to the public in early 2023.

Planning applications:

More information: YTL Arena Bristol

Visualisation of the Arena in its ‘full capacity’ configuration.

Images – Top: Visualisation of the proposed new pedestrian bridge leading over the railway line and into the Arena hangar. Above: Visualisation of the Arena in its ‘full capacity’ configuration.

This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 2 & 3). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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