Developer eyes mixed-use replacement for music venue drawn up by Populous

Zaha Hadid Architects has revealed its proposals for a site in the centre of Bristol that already has planning consent for a £123m arena designed by Populous.

The architect was hired by Legal & General, which has been eyeing the five-acre site next to Temple Meads station, now known as Temple Island.

The council-owned site, previously Arena Island, was reserved for a major music and conference centre by former RIBA president George Ferguson during his tenure as mayor of Bristol from 2012 to 2016. He argued the city lacked a venue of sufficient size to attract international acts.

But his replacement, Marvin Rees, is not a fan of the project, which has been dogged by problems.

Legal & General, which issued a press release drawing attention to the £240m it had invested in the adjacent Temple Meads Quarter, says it would fund its £300m mixed-use proposals if the council were to approve its rival scheme.

Zaha Bristol

How the scheme proposed by Zaha Hadid Architects will look

The Zaha Hadid Architects’ designs include a conference and exhibition centre, a 345-room hotel, 550 homes including 220 that are “affordable”, and two office buildings.

“The scheme would help build a resilient city centre offer for Bristol in the face of current structural changes in retailing, culture and leisure, which demand a different offer from towns and city centres,” said an L&G spokesperson.

Jim Heverin, a director at Zaha Hadid Architects, said: “Our design for Temple Island is derived from the existing architectural fabric of Bristol, aimed at regenerating the area around Temple Meads station.

“With a particular emphasis on providing new green public spaces, this proposal integrates a range of work, live and civic uses.”

The council is set to decide the future of the site on 4 September.

The 12,000-capacity arena is due to be built by Buckingham which replaced Bouygues early last year after the firm failed to agree a price on the job. The scheme has been hit with procurement problems after three of the original five shortlisted bidders, Laing O’Rourke, Bam and Sir Robert McAlpine, left the contest after refusing to sign up to the council’s “inflexible” bidding terms.

Bristol Arena Populous

The Bristol Arena scheme drawn up by Populous