Construction work on the YTL Arena complex in the English city of Bristol is free to proceed after the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government chose not to call in the decision to grant approval for the project.

The project had already received approval from Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council and the Secretary of State has seen no reason to further examine the application. It is hoped the arena can open in 2023.

Stakeholders were forced to wait for the final go-ahead as the COVID-19 crisis delayed a government verdict but the project received the green light yesterday (Wednesday).

The YTL Arena complex will be anchored by the 17,080-capacity arena, which would sit in the Central Hangar of the Brabazon Hangars in the north of Bristol. The arena has been touted as the third largest in the UK after the Manchester Arena and London’s O2, but could be relegated to fifth spot should Oak View Group’s plans for a second arena in Manchester get the green light and plans proceed to expand Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena.

The complex’s other two hangars will be transformed into a Festival Hall and The Hub. The former will host conventions and exhibitions, with the latter to serve as a year-round venue incorporating a visitor attraction, leisure, workspace and food and drink offerings.

YTL Arena Complex managing director Andrew Billingham said: “During the current COVID-19 crisis this is especially welcomed news. It is a huge step forward for everybody in Bristol and the region. We are fully committed to opening a venue that will inspire future generations, giving our great city a beating heart across the global music and entertainment industry.”

In February, new designs were released for a proposed 4,000-seat arena next to Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium, home of Championship football club Bristol City and Premiership rugby union team the Bristol Bears. Ashton Gate chairman Martin Griffiths has said that he does not view the YTL Arena project as a threat and feels there is a “broad market” in Bristol that can accommodate both new venues.

Images courtesy of YTL Arena and produced by Grimshaw