Bristol TV

Sunrise Sunset
°C
Today
05/12/2021
°C
Tonight
05/12/2021
°C
Tomorrow
06/12/2021
°C
Saturday
07/12/2021
°C
Sunday
08/12/2021
°C
Monday
09/12/2021
°C

BRISTOL: Temple Quarter latest

BRISTOL: Temple Quarter latest

Image: Legal & General

Civic leaders are pressing ahead with one of Europe’s biggest city centre regeneration schemes – despite no guarantee over a vital bid for £96million of government cash.

Bristol City Council’s cabinet agreed a series of decisions on Tuesday, October 5, to plough on with the Temple Quarter revamp because of concerns that the massive project will stall if they keep waiting for Whitehall’s long-delayed funding decision.

Developers are also showing growing interest in making piecemeal planning applications which could scupper the overall ambitions to create 10,000 homes and 22,000 jobs in the area around Temple Meads station and St Philips Marsh over the next 25 years.

But opposition councillors urged caution and demanded greater scrutiny after members gave senior officers authority to buy “strategic land”, as well as secure high-value contracts to prepare Temple Island for redevelopment over the £500,000 threshold for deals that would usually require cabinet approval.

Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees insisted the rejuvenation scheme was a “symbol of the city getting stuff done” that would ultimately add £1.6billion a year to the local economy.

Cabinet members were told the council had received “assurances” but not “absolute surety” of an “eventual favourable funding decision” over the £95.8million bid for government housing infrastructure money.

However, Green group leader Cllr Paula O’Rourke said: “The report delegates a tremendous amount of decision-making to a small minority of individuals and bypasses both cabinet and councillors.

“A lot of the funding is still tentative. It’s predicated on getting the money from the Government, and the report talks about all the ambition of keeping many plates spinning at once.”

She said there was “concern” about the viability of a proposed office block as part of the £350million deal the council signed in June with Legal & General to develop Temple Island, formerly earmarked for an arena, because of the rise in home-working during the pandemic.

Mr Rees replied: “I’m always wary of language – ‘there is a concern about…’ – that could be two people, it could be 20,000.

“Floating around ‘concerns’, which we do a lot in the chamber, are vague terms.”

He said that all information that could be shared had already been put in the public domain but that lawyers were still finalising the Temple Island agreements, so not everything could be disclosed for now because of commercial sensitivities and the need to protect taxpayers’ money.

“As more information is able to be released, we will release it as soon as we can,” the mayor said.

Mr Rees assured Cllr O’Rourke that milestones were included in the overall scheme and that it would return to cabinet and scrutiny committees, where councillors have the chance to examine proposals in-depth.

A report to the meeting said: “In an effort to maintain delivery momentum, the Temple Quarter Strategic Board and delivery partners have agreed to a funding strategy which would enable projects to progress at risk in advance of a decision on government funding.”

It said these included Temple Meads’ northern entrance and southern gateway and initial plans for Mead Street, with cabinet agreeing to submit a £7.9million bid to the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) to advance the work.

The report said that if Weca’s joint committee gave approval on October 15, the money would be used to progress the projects “but in close liaison” with Homes England and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities “on the strength of assurances made in good faith of an eventual favourable funding decision, but without the absolute surety that capital funding to advance the projects would be forthcoming”.

It said that if the Government approved the £95.8million bid, a “substantial majority” of the money would be reimbursed, but that without the interim injection of Weca funding, the projects would suffer delays.

However, the report did not say what would happen if the bid for the government money – developed in partnership by the council, Weca, Network Rail and Homes England – was rejected.

It said a second, future bid to Weca was proposed for an estimated £20million to £30million to acquire strategic land and pay for some existing businesses to relocate.

The report added: “None of the approvals have any new financial implication for the council as the funding is all coming from Weca’s controlled/allocated funding that the council is drawing down from.”

Mr Rees said the decision to ask for another £7.9miilon from Weca –  agreed on Tuesday by cabinet – would keep the momentum going ahead of the government announcement on the much larger bid.

“Temple Quarter is an enormous project for Bristol, making Temple Meads a major transport hub for the city, the region and the country,” he said.

“It brings with it a £300million new university campus, it helps us tackle the housing crisis in a sustainable area, along with the environment and ecological emergency and economic recovery from the pandemic.”

As part of the Temple Island deal the council is spending £32million getting the site ready to hand over to L&G in a lease agreement which will see the asset management company build a large conference centre and exhibition space, 345-room hotel, 550 new homes, of which 220 will be affordable, and two “major” office buildings.

Words: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter


Watch Live


Watch the channel on TV

7

Freeview

195

Sky

159

Virgin Media