Crucial Bristol arena decision deferred over cost queries

Bristol Arena Image copyright Populous
Image caption Plans to build a 12,000-seat venue in the city centre were put on hold last year

A decision on Bristol's long-awaited arena has been deferred at the eleventh hour.

Council papers, setting out whether the project should proceed at Temple Meads or at an airport hangar at Filton, were due to be published at 00:00 BST on Tuesday.

But Bristol's mayor Marvin Rees has again deferred the decision, asking for "clarity on options".

It comes as one contractor suggested it could fulfil the project more cheaply.

The project, first mooted in 2003, has been beset by delays and rising costs.

A new date for the cabinet to discuss the proposals has yet to be set.

Image copyright YTL
Image caption YTL has proposed a 16,000 seat arena arena at the former Brabazon hangar at Filton

Construction firm Buckingham Group previously said it was "very confident" it could deliver the arena at Temple Island for the approved budget of £123m, despite a 'value-for-money' report suggesting it would cost £156m.

Mr Rees said he was disappointed a council report focused on a choice between the two sites and had "missed the bigger social and economic questions around the potential developments of Temple Quarter."

He said: "We have written direct to Buckingham and are in contact with Arena Island Ltd and have asked them both to clarify their offers.

"The Buckingham offer is particularly substantial as this could remove tens of millions of pounds of public borrowing from the real cost of developing on Temple Island.

"On the basis of these potential offers and on the assumption that the evidence given by Buckingham and Arena Island is sound, I have to pause the cabinet process until those offers have been formally tabled and fully considered."

Image copyright Populous
Image caption The council estimates there will be about 20 "full-capacity" events per year

The proposal to build a 12,000-seat venue in the city centre, next to Temple Meads railway station, was "paused" last November when Mr Rees asked for the value-for-money review.

An alternative site has been offered at Filton, which would be funded by its Malaysian owners YTL Developments.

The company said it could build a 16,000 seat arena at the former Brabazon hangar but stated it would require new transport links, estimated to cost about £50m, which the council would need to fund.

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