Bristol's Concorde hangar 'could be third biggest arena'

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Artists depiction of the hangar arena complex on Filton airfieldImage source, Grimshaw Architects
Image caption,
An artist's depiction of the hangar arena complex on Filton airfield

Plans to house the UK's third biggest arena complex in the hangars where Concorde was made are to be submitted.

YTL developments said it intended to privately fund a 17,080 capacity arena complex in Filton airfield's Brabazon air hangars in Bristol.

Since plans for an arena were first raised with Bristol City Council in 2003, the project has been beset by delays and rising costs.

The council will decide on the plans from the private investors next spring.

The plans include the east hangar acting as an event space for conventions and exhibitions, the west hangar being a place to eat with leisure facilities and the main central hangar would be the arena.

It is hoped the development would provide 500 jobs.

Image source, Grimshaw Architects
Image caption,
An aerial view of how the hangar arena complex on Filton airfield might look

Andrew Billingham, the managing director of YTL developments, said the venture would be "100% privately funded" and would be the first time a hangar was repurposed into an arena.

Mr Billingham said: "We'll put Bristol on the world stage with this 365-day complex.

"The venue will be the third biggest in the UK after the 02 in London and Manchester Arena."

Plans for the complex have not been universally welcomed. Last year, former Bristol mayor George Ferguson said building an arena on the outskirts of the city rather than in the centre would be "a crazy thing to do".

And Tim Davies, head of South West and Wales at global real estate company Colliers International, deemed any new arena in Filton "redundant" because of having to compete against other major events in the city.

When told this by the BBC, Mr Billingham said the Filton venue would "complement the city's current offering" of events and venues.

The original plans to build the Filton arena with Bristol City Council had rivalled plans from The Buckingham Group, which wanted to build a 12,000-seat venue in the city centre next to Temple Meads railway station. Those plans were halted by Mr Ferguson's successor as mayor, Marvin Rees.

Filton airfield closed to commercial flights in December 2012. In 2003, the final Concorde to fly travelled from Heathrow to Filton.

If the planning application was accepted it would be hoped the arena would open in 2023.

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