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YTL Arena proceeds to Secretary of State for final sign-off

YTL Arena, a major new project planned for the English city of Bristol, will head to the UK government for final approval after being backed by South Gloucestershire Council.

The latest approval comes after Bristol City Council granted planning permission for the proposed complex, anchored by the 17,080-capacity arena, earlier this month. Bristol council met to discuss four separate planning applications submitted to itself and South Gloucestershire Council in November.

The latter council has now followed suit, with its permission needed due to parts of the project, including a temporary 1,800-space car park and a new pedestrian bridge, falling within its boundary. Due to the scale of the project, it will now move to the Secretary of State for final approval.

“This is another huge step forward for us,” YTL Arena managing director Andrew Billingham said, according to the ITV News website. “We are delighted that South Gloucestershire Council has given us the go ahead. It is another landmark moment, not only for YTL but also for the people of the whole region who have been missing out on an arena for years.

“We’re incredibly grateful to all those who have supported us and encouraged us on this journey. We have met so many people who tell us they want an arena. We have listened to the concerns of some local people and our plans will drive down car dependency. We want to be good neighbours and will continue to work to make sure YTL Arena has a positive impact on the South Gloucestershire and Bristol community.

“We will celebrate all that is great about Bristol and the south west. If you are local, we hope you will feel at home. If you are visiting, we hope you will leave wanting to come back for more.”

The arena, which would sit in the Central Hangar of the Brabazon Hangars in the north of Bristol, has been touted as the third largest in the UK after Manchester Arena and The O2, but could be relegated to fourth spot should Oak View Group’s plans for a second arena in Manchester get the green light.

The UK represents a rapidly evolving market for the arena sector, with an early-stage redevelopment vision unveiled for Manchester Arena last week that would expand its overall capacity to 24,000, making it the largest indoor arena in Europe.

The Arena unveiled the vision to mark 25 years since the venue opened. ASM Global, which operates the Arena, provided a first look at the redesign plans, which would see new concourse levels introduced.

The YTL Arena site’s other two hangars would be transformed into a ‘Festival Hall’ and ‘The Hub’. The Festival Hall would host conventions and exhibitions, while The Hub would be a year-round venue incorporating a visitor attraction, leisure, workspace and food and drink offerings.

The new arena and entertainment complex intends to create more than 500 jobs and inject £1.5bn (€1.66bn/$1.78bn) into the local economy over a 25-year period. Malaysian investment firm YTL is backing the venture to transform the 28,000 square metres of floorspace in the three hangars.

YTL hopes to break ground on the arena in early 2023. Grimshaw Architects and Manica Architecture were last year named as the design team to deliver the project.

Image: Manica Architecture