Posts Tagged ‘South West RDA’


Bristol City In Arena ‘Land Swap’ Talks

November 18, 2009

A new arena for Bristol has moved a step closer, as it has emerged that Bristol City FC is in talks aimed at building one alongside its new stadium at Ashton Vale.

Several sources have confirmed to Jones The News that companies involved in the new stadium deal are discussing a ‘land swap’ with the South West Regional Development Agency in order to get an arena built next to the new stadium.

The talks are still at an early stage, but they have already been condemned by Tobacco Factory architect George Ferguson, who calls them “bonkers”.

The South West RDA – responsible for giving money to business projects in the region – still owns about 9 acres of disused land near Temple Meads station. The site had been earmarked for an arena until the plans were scrapped in 2007.

The RDA is now in discussion to swap this land for 6 acres alongside the planned Ashton Vale stadium, owned by the group of companies involved in building the club’s new stadium.

City had wanted to build a housing estate known as ‘Southlands’ on the site, but was denied permission by the council last month, because the land is green belt.

If the swap goes through, Bristol City would then develop the Temple Meads site, possibly for housing, while the RDA builds an arena at Southlands.

The club has previously said it would need to consider a variety of options to adress what it claimed would be a £10m shortfall to its stadium project, following the rejection of Southlands.

Despite last week promising not to build on Bristol’s green belt land, the city’s ruling Lib Dem cabinet say they may allow “exceptional” applications. It is believed an arena would fall into this category.

However, both the RDA and Bristol City FC have refused to comment on the land swap talks.

An RDA spokeswoman said: “Any discussions are just speculation and we will not comment on speculation.” A Bristol City Football Club spokesman said the club would not comment at this stage.

But the plans have been condemned by Tobacco Factory architect George Ferguson. He said: “The RDA have made huge mistakes in the past and this will be another one. An arena on this site is totally inexcusable and it will fail.”

Mr Ferguson has his own proposals for an arena on the Temple Meads site.

But a senior member of the ruling Lib Dem cabinet told Jones The News: “We want to see an arena and our preference is for one which will happen.

“The plan to build an arena at Temple Meads won’t happen. There is no value in fighting old battles all over again.”

Audio: George Ferguson speaks to Jones The News


City “Could Get Tax Cash” For New Stadium

November 3, 2009

Bristol City could get taxpayers’ money to fund its new stadium at Ashton Vale.

The South West Regional Development Agency has confirmed it is in talks with the club about offering funding for the club’s new ground.

The Agency is responsible for distributing government money to projects it believes will benefit the region’s economy.

But Bristol City say any money that might come from the taxpayer would need to be in addition to selling Ashton Gate to Sainsbury’s, not instead of it.

Ian Knight, area director for the South West RDA, exclusively told Jones The News: “”We have met with Bristol City Football Club to discuss how they might be able to help take forward the proposed stadium expansion but those discussions are at a very early stage.”

He added: “It is too early to say if RDA funding would be available for this project.”

But Bristol City’s Chief Executive Colin Sexstone dismissed the suggestion that public funding could mean the club did not have to sell Ashton Gate off as a supermarket.

He said: “It would make no difference to the application for Ashton Gate. We have been in discussions with the RDA, as you would expect with a stadium of this size.

“This sort of discussion is normal in a project like this. There is a fair bit of land remediation that needs to be done. We would be looking to the RDA to help us with that.

“That’s especially true because it will create jobs and bring back an area of the city that, at the moment, can’t be used for employment.

“We’re also looking for them to help us with the infrastructure, and how people get to the site. That might be grants or might be loans. We are in discussion with them, but this issue is not central. We still need to raise the maximum we can from Ashton Gate.”

Sexstone is also adamant that any money from the RDA could not replace the money the club would get from a food store.

He said: “It certainly could not. If someone comes in and gives us the same money as we would get from a food store, they could do what they like with this site.

“They could put housing or sports centres or whatever they like on the site if they match what we would get from a food store. But there is not that sort of public money available at the moment.”

The RDA has also revealed it is committed to providing £20,000 to boost Bristol’s World Cup bid, and would provide the same sum to Plymouth, which is competing with Bristol.

The RDA’s South West Director Ian Knight said: “There are significant economic benefits of being a host city for the 2018 World Cup so we are keen to find out more about the strengths of Bristol’s bid and how it might be presented.

“The city will need to address issues such as transport infrastructure, the local environment, sustainability issues and stadium facilities.

Audio: City Chief Executive Colin Sexstone speaks to Jones The News