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Statement on the new Bristol City stadium

Statement from Dawn Primarolo MP and Councillor Mark Bradshaw.
South and East Development Control Committee, 3 November 2009

The application before you today is a complex one.  It has, understandably, caused a great deal of local comment, and it is clear from the report that strong views have been expressed on both sides.  We have been encouraging residents of Bristol South – whatever their view – to express their opinion to the planning department, and we have no doubt that many residents will have expressed their views directly to members of the committee through public forum today.

A number of Ashton Vale residents have expressed several concerns to us about these proposals.  These are serious, well thought out concerns which deserve to be considered carefully by the Committee.  This application, in addition to significant other proposed development in the vicinity, has caused considerable anxiety within the Ashton Vale community.  We are sure representatives from that community will express their concerns directly to you this evening.

However, members of the Committee have an important responsibility to the whole of Bristol.  This application offers an important, and perhaps unique, opportunity for the future progression not only of Bristol City Football Club, but for sport generally in our city.  This is also an opportunity for the applicants to address the traffic and environmental concerns in particular.  The development must not only be a state of the art sporting, events and conferencing facility, but also an example of Bristol's Green Capital ambitions.

Bristol has a proud sporting tradition, and Bristol City has many thousands of loyal – some might say long-suffering at times – supporters.  We should celebrate our sporting successes thus far, particularly our strong ties to grass-roots sports, but recognise that, as a city, we can and must do better.  For too long, we have been without a team playing at the highest level in English football.  Being minded to approve this application today will not solve these problems overnight, but will give the football club a springboard to further success. 

We have seen how major sporting events can also bring about a more general interest in healthier, more active lifestyles, whether the Olympics and Paralympics, the UK Schools Games and the World Cup. South Bristol still has major challenges in terms of health and disadvantage and the proposed development could help to address these.

There has been much talk about the prospect of Bristol hosting matches in the 2018 Fifa World Cup.  We should make no mistake – helping to host such an event would be fantastic for our city.  Bristol would benefit not only from the event itself, but through increased trade, investment and tourism to our city. 

We are confident that the club has examined all of the other site options available.  Ashton Gate is a much loved and iconic site, but expansion on such a comparatively restricted site is not a realistic option.  These proposals before you today keep the club in BS3, its home since 1897.  The application does, we believe, provide evidence that very special circumstances are present to build on land which is designated as green-belt.

The proposals reflect the changing nature of football.  The modern football stadium is not locked up for all but a day a fortnight in the season.  It is a modern, thriving business providing services every day of the year.  This application reflects that, and the proposed conferencing facilities provided within the stadium will deliver necessary income for the club, and important employment opportunities for local residents.

The building of a new stadium and the associated developments will help to sustain hundreds of much needed construction jobs.  Members will know that the recession has hit the construction industry hard, and this development provides an ideal opportunity to support local jobs.

Your discussions today will, we are sure, be complex.  You are in the difficult position of having to balance understandable local concerns with the benefits a new stadium would bring to our city, and the whole region.


We would urge you to support your officers’ recommendation to signal your approval for the stadium.

Dawn Primarolo and Mark Bradshaw
3 November 2009.

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