Council orders review to keep arena project funding costs down

Council orders review to keep arena project funding costs down

Pre-construction work for a new indoor arena in Bristol has been put on hold by the city council. 

Contractor Buckingham had secured a deal to start work in April this year, but the council has now ordered consultants at KPMG to expand the scope of their value-for-money review of the project.

The 12,000-capacity venue is still expected to go ahead, but KPMG's remit now includes an examination of the arena's 'location, design and the possibility of private financing as part of a thorough assessment of options'.

Bristol's mayor Marvin Rees remarked: "I remain 100 per cent committed to delivering an arena for Bristol and with this in mind, it is right to look at every available option, along with the benefits and drawbacks of each.

"We can’t commit to the current design on this specific site at any cost and I wouldn’t want that kind of blinkered approach to become the arena’s undoing.”

The next stage will be for KPMG to produce its report ahead of a next council meeting in January that will decide the next steps forward.

At present, the arena has a £123 million budget and the scheme is currently part of a wider plan to regenerate the area around Temple Meads Station, which includes new university buildings and student accommodation, plus improved pedestrian access around the area.

The need to ensure projects in the city are delivered with good value for money may have implications stretching far beyond the construction cost of the new arena. 

A key infrastructure issue for the city is transport, with heavy road congestion meaning limited gains can be made by building new bus routes or a surface tram network. As a result, a recent report into the city's transport plans suggested a metro system using underground sections in places was the best solution. 

The potential cost of giving Bristol its own Tube network would run into billions of pounds, making cost the greatest potential impediment to the creation of such a system.