The Arena

The Society’s response to the Bristol Arena planning application

The Council has made two planning application for the Arena Island (the Island). The main application is to build the Arena and the second is for an outline permission to develop the remainder of the Island once the Arena is complete. The Society strongly supports the Arena proposal. In its response to the applications the Society said that it is concerned about pedestrian access to the Arena. The recently built Feeder Road Bridge gives satisfactory access to the east. Currently, on the Bath Road, there is only a 1-metre-wide auxiliary pedestrian access near Temple Meads. On the Bath Road, near the Three Lamps junction, the planning documents describe a 4 metres wide, ‘proposed access’.

A single Bath Road access would cause crowd conflict and seriously inconvenience the patrons who choose not to use the Feeder Road Bridge. The Society understands that plans for a second Bath Road access will be submitted in time for the planning decision. The Council is improving Temple Gate to give patrons who walk to the Arena from the north a wider pavement on the Station side. Cattle Market Road will be made narrower with a single, one-way carriageway to make more room for pedestrians and cyclists. The ‘pedestrian amenity’ for patrons who walk or cycle from the west will be awful. They must cross the Bath Road via two-step pelican crossings. With the current road layout, there is probably nothing that the Council can do. There will be other local road improvements and the Council will support local residents’ parking schemes to withdraw free on-street parking near the Arena on performance days.

The Arena must be seen as part of the overall development of the recently extended Enterprise Zone. The outline planning permission will allow the Council to market the remainder of the Island with a planning framework. The successful redevelopment of the Island may suggest development for the empty Parcel Sorting Office. The Society has said that the outline planning permission should be as flexible as possible to permit either a commercial- or residential-led development. New buildings should be lower than the Arena to which they should be sub-servient. Buildings of differing heights would create a livelier character to the area. The permission should emphasise the Council’s new policy demand for high quality design and materials. Improving connectivity within the Zone must be a priority.

The planning application offers, in the future, a new pedestrian/cycling bridge over the Avon from St. Philip’s Marsh. This should be built as soon as possible. The Society also suggests the construction of another pedestrian/cycling bridge over the Avon to link the Island to Cattle Market Road and the wider Enterprise Zone. New public space on the Island should be constructed from the same quality materials and street furniture as the area around Temple Back East and the Friary. Pocket park(s) should green the heavily trafficked area and contribute a sense of place.

More details of the Arena proposal are set out in this slide presentation [PDF, 4,678KB] to the Cabot Neighbourhood Forum meeting in December 2015.

Bristol Civic Society’s response [PDF, 425KB] Right-click to download, click to view.

John Frenkel

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