MPC attended Bristol City Council’s Development Control Committee A on Wednesday 6th April, where plans for the Bristol Arena and the wider masterplan area were coming before the committee for a second time.
The plans had first been examined in March, but councillors had deferred the decision in order to allow officers to fully present the supporting Transport Plan, which was notable in its absence at the March meeting. A proposal of this scale, in a City with the physical size and transport issues that Bristol has, made this a central consideration of the site’s future.
The rigorous presentation from officers drew both commendation and a range of detailed questions from members from across the spectrum. However, a discernible bloc solidarity was seen amongst the differing lines of questioning taken by political groupings. The subtle presence of electoral posturing managed to stay just on the correct side of appropriate, given that the Council is weeks away from an all-up and Mayoral election.
One Green Party member requested whether the design of the St Phillips pedestrian bridge could be put to a competition, citing individual design and character as one of Bristol’s key assets. Adequate cycle provision formed another issue raised. Conservative members were ‘hugely encouraged’ by the Transport Plan presented and had few questions for officers.
Several Labour committee members sought assurances that local jobs and apprentices would be created by the plans, to ensure that the local residential population feel the benefit of the Arena as well as the traffic strain. Indeed, potential spread of knock-on issues beyond the predicted area covered by the report was suggested by Labour members. This is fitting, since many of the surrounding wards are Labour-held. Indeed, one local ward member highlighted the scenario of several large-attendance events in Bristol on the same day, and questioned how that might be managed.
Liberal Democrat committee members offered the most substantial criticism of some of the proposal detail. One concern raised, for example, was the need for adequate bus stop provision for the Arena, which was felt to be lacking in the current plans. En bloc, the Liberal Democrat members requested that the developer pay for a remodelling study of the nearby Three Lamps junction, as well as promoting a condition that local residents would not be expected to foot the cost for the local Residents Parking Zone that would be required. This motion was voted down.
Ultimately, it was clear that Members from across the political spectrum were in agreement, both of the improvement to the application by the presentation, as well as of the need to fully consult the public when the time comes. The outline application was passed unanimously, representing another decisive step towards the re-master planning and regeneration of the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.
This article was written by Ben Draper