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UK's third largest arena 'is still on track for 2023'

While it might seem hard to imagine being in a large crowd at the moment, plans for Bristol's YTL Arena complex have moved forward - despite the lockdown.

The communities' secretary has decided not to call in the application - adding they were 'happy with the decision made by Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council and saw no reason to further examine'.

On March 4 Bristol City Council’s planning committee voted to approve the application to build a 17,080-capacity arena in the Brabazon Hangars on Filton Airfield.

It will be the third largest arena in the UK and is due to open in 2023.

On 19 March, South Gloucestershire Council’s planning committee approved applications to build a temporary 1,800 space car park, access for delivery vehicles from the north, across the former airfield and via West Way, and a new pedestrian bridge over the existing railway track, which will serve as the main entrance to the arena.

Andrew Billingham, Managing Director of YTL Arena Complex, Bristol 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.”

Our vision is to put Bristol on the world stage for live music and entertainment. The birthplace of Concorde, the iconic Brabazon Hangars will be reimagined and brought back to life, celebrating their historic past and reinvented as the home of supersonic for future generations to enjoy. People are at the heart of everything we do – from the fans and performers to the event crew and our own staff. We strive for customer service excellence and aim to create the ultimate night out, offering a superb combination of live events and fantastic food: a return again experience for all. Bristol is constantly evolving, reinventing and reimagining itself with people who are passionate about creating new possibilities. YTL Arena Complex aims to celebrate this: a place where foodies, explorers, collectors, socialisers, culture shapers meet and new experiences are created every day. YTL Arena Bristol will be the UK’s third largest, enhancing Bristol’s reputation and putting the city on the world stage. YTL Arena Complex will be fully privately funded and will not require public subsidy.

The Brabazon Hangars offer three individual but interlinked areas:

  • Central Hangar – YTL Arena: 17,080 capacity, the third largest in the UK. Multi-purpose, flexible and unique arena auditorium. Providing the ability to host theatre format shows for 4,000, super theatre for 8,000 and full capacity gigs at 17,080. The new and unique UK arena configuration, allows Bristol to host full capacity live music shows, but also to offer sporting events, family entertainment (eg Dancing on Ice, Strictly Come Dancing) and comedy shows. As the third largest UK arena, it will attract major events and shows previously unable to include Bristol in their touring programme.
  • East Hangar - Festival Hall: a flat floor space for trade shows, exhibitions, conventions and other events. The Festival Hall will also be able to compliment the Arena shows – as a break-out area or extension to the show, for example if there is a sports tournament in the main arena, the Festival Hall could act as the warm up area.
  • West Hangar - The Hub: a place to eat, work and play. With a visitor attraction, leisure, workspace and food and drink. This will be the heartbeat of the complex, a 365-day a year venue creating quality, full and part-time contracted jobs and opportunities for career progression.

We pledge to source at least 75% of products and services locally. There will be a variety of food and drink areas, with lounges, bars, restaurants and ‘food to go’ options to suit all pockets. On the event level (ground floor) the Runway Bar will cover the entire width of the Central Hangar with the ability to host up to 3,000 people. The bar will showcase all that is great about Bristol and the wider region, celebrating the heritage of the hangars and their aviation history, with locally produced food and drink, street art and a community stage offering local people the chance to show off their skills and talents to a wider audience. The new arena seating bowl is a unique hybrid design, offering maximum flexibility and allowing the capacity to vary from a 4,000 theatre, an 8,000 super theatre, a 14,000 to 16,000 sports arena to a 17,080 full capacity big stage event. The main public entrance to the Complex will be via a new bridge, accessed by both stairs and lifts, which will cross the existing railway line and enter the building at first floor grand circle level. A separate delivery access will be created at the back of the building. Dedicated accessible parking will be available on site.

The arena will attract in excess of 1.4 million visitors a year, bringing increased spend into the city region. Evidence demonstrates that Liverpool Echo Arena campus has boosted the local economy by £1.8billion since it opened ten years ago, while Glasgow Event Campus injected £450million in 2018 alone. We forecast YTL Arena will create an additional £1.5billion spend in tourism alone, in the local economy over the next 25 years, and offer new opportunities and benefits to the city and wider region.
· Increase in overnight stays at £33million annually
· Additional spend in city bars and restaurants at £27million annually
· Source more than 75% of products and services locally
· Our marketing will include working with city partners to promote overnight stays and tourism. Data shows 50% of tickets sales for Bristol concerts in 2019 were from outside the city
· We will create 580 jobs with a living wage policy. As a 365 day a year venue, we will offer full and part-time jobs, flexible working hours and training and career progression opportunities
· We will create 15 apprenticeship roles during construction and into operations
· We will provide access for local people to all the arena’s job opportunities, skilled and unskilled.

YTL Arena will be well connected to Bristol city centre via a new train station and service as well as buses, Metrobus, the M4 and M5. As YTL will manage the Arena Complex we will have the ability to discourage car usage and encourage other modes of transport through incentives and ticketing strategies. A new railway station will connect the Arena to Bristol Temple Meads in less than 15 minutes. It is just 2 miles from Bristol Parkway station, which now links to London Paddington in just 70 minutes. A dedicated MetroBus route will link Cribbs Causeway to Bristol city centre. The new Brabazon neighbourhood will also offer a network of walkways and cycle paths - including a new East-West bike route – that will connect it with all the surrounding neighbourhoods. Access for all visitors will be via a new bridge which will cross the existing railway line to the north of the proposed arena, linking in to the new Brabazon neighbourhood. There are stairs and lifts to the bridge. Accessible parking will be provided on site. Accessible seating will be available on all floors, with appropriate facilities nearby. Tour buses, crew and delivery vehicles will have a separate and secured access. Some touring shows have at least 35 tour vehicles and many arenas are unable to accommodate them all on site. YTL Arena will have ample space for all associated vehicles and will provide facilities for the touring staff. This will take the lorries off the surrounding streets and minimise disruption to local residents and businesses.

Sustainability is at the heart of our approach to business. Our ambition is to provide our customers with products and services that meet their expectations while minimising our impact on the environment and local communities. YTL Arena will be net carbon on day one. Adaptive reuse and construction: we are reusing and adapting the existing structure, as opposed to demolition. This will save approximately 18,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The concrete which supported every UK built Concorde will be the same floor our visitors stand on for events. For any areas of new construction, we plan to source locally the materials required. Our plans include zero waste to landfill, and the development of a landscape strategy which will be sympathetic with the local surroundings and the approved former airfield scheme. Operations and social sustainability: We will promote green modes of transport in our ticketing and work with partners to mitigate our carbon footprint today and for future generations. In addition to the arena, the hangars will house a variety of adaptable spaces, thus providing opportunities for small businesses and local vendors, as well as creating world class event venues. Additionally, we will create local employment opportunities, harnessing local skills and services, both during and after construction. Renewable energy and innovation: we will make use of low carbon energy sources and self-generating energy via the use of battery storage systems on site. We will develop a strategy for rainwater harvesting and grey water use (ie recycling water internally). The arena will be net zero carbon on day one. There will be no use of fossil fuels, no gas. We will develop a green transport policy for our visitors and staff.

It is our priority to ensure our guests have the finest experience, including sound quality, while also protecting our neighbours from any noise break-out. To minimise the arena’s impact on the surrounding area we will make sure that the internal design and materials are of the highest standard. The overall construction will act as a ‘box within a box’ in order to contain the sound. There will be sound insulation in the roof and façade fabric of the hangars. The internal walls and ceiling will be lined with sound absorbing materials. The seats will be designed to further reduce noise reverberation.

The Brabazon Hangars were built just after WW2 to house a new transatlantic airliner, the Brabazon. A huge, luxury aircraft with onboard cinema, a cocktail bar and lounge area. Although it was never a commercial success as it was superceded by the invention of the jet engine, it paved the way for the creation of the world’s most iconic aircraft, Concorde. Every UK Concorde was assembled in the Brabazon Hangars and their maiden flight was from the former Filton airfield. We will celebrate that heritage and make sure that the character, history and industrial feel of the building will be showcased throughout. We will celebrate the Brabazon Hangars as the home of supersonic!

The site is 26 acres (10.5 hectares) – compared to London O2’s 22 acres (8.9 hectares) The Brabazon Hangars are 352m wide. From floor to ceiling they are 35m high. The doors are 21m high. The East and West Hangars are 100m x 80m The Central Hangar is 100m x 120m. At 28,000m2, the floorspace of the Brabazon hangars can fit: - 2 large football pitches (one pitch is 10,870 m2 ) + 1 hockey pitch (one pitch is 5,015 m2) - 5 large hockey pitches (one pitch is 5,015 m2) + 3 netball courts (one court is 777.75 m2 ) - 36 netball courts (one court is 777.75 m2 ) - 41 large tennis courts (one court is 670m2 ) - 45 basketball courts (one court is 609.9m2 )

Filton Airfield is steeped in history. Home to the Hurricane aircraft. Birthplace of Concorde and supersonic travel. Now a bold new vision will see Filton Airfield transformed into Brabazon, a thriving new neighbourhood for Bristol. The 380 acres of the Airfield will become a new urban community, with over 2,600 homes, creative workplaces and a vibrant town centre set among landscaped public squares and parkland. At the same time, over £100 million is being invested to improve local infrastructure: A new railway station will connect to Bristol Temple Meads in less than 15 minutes and a dedicated metrobus will run straight to the city centre. For more information please visit www.brabazon.co.uk

Named after its founder Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Yeoh Tiong Lay, YTL is a family run business which set up in 1955 in Malaysia. Initially a construction company, in true entrepreneurial spirit the company quickly diversified and expanded. It is now a highly successful international business, with interests in power, water, rail, cement, construction, communications, property development, hotels and spas in South East Asia, China, Australia and Europe. In the UK alone, they have assets of more than £3 billion, including award-winning Wessex Water, The Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel and Thermae Bath Spa in Bath, and hotels in London and Edinburgh.

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