Tim Davies, head of the South West and Wales for Colliers International, warned the Filton Airfield site might not be given planning approval because it failed to meet the criteria of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sequential test.
“The fact that there is a suitable location for an arena in Bristol city centre means that under the NPPF sequential test there may be issues in obtaining planning approval for an Arena at the Brabazon hangar at Filton,” he said.
“This problem was raised during the scrutiny hearings by the Labour Councillor for Horfield, Olly Mead, and I concur with his interpretation of planning regulations, and endorse the concerns that he raised.
“Organisations such as the Bristol Hoteliers Association would be able to put a strong case against the council at a judicial review if their businesses suffer as a result of the location for the 12,000-seat arena originally planned for Bristol city centre being changed for one out at Filton.
“This could then lead to Bristol City Council becoming embroiled in a costly and time-consuming legal battle, during which Bristol would still be without an arena and the cost of building one would be continuing to rise.”
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is aimed at ensuring the vitality of town and city centres, and means local planning authorities are supposed to adopt a ‘town centre first’ approach to planning.
Mr Davies said: “Given the very clear criteria set out in the NPPF, there surely have to be questions asked about why the Filton site was ever considered instead of getting on with work at the location originally earmarked for a 12,000-seat arena on Arena Island, near Temple Meads railway station.”
He added: “This is not the only planning criteria that would be breached if the Filton site were to be chosen. There are also significant transport issues, as the location of the Brabazon hangar means there are not the same options for using public transport and cycling as there are in Bristol city centre.
“This would mean more car journeys and greater congestion until large-scale infrastructure improvements were undertaken.”