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Bristol council puts £123m arena project on hold

Bristol City Council has suspended plans for a 12,000-seat arena due to be built by Buckingham, following a value-for-money review of the proposals.

The mayor of Bristol has instructed consultant KPMG to expand the scope of a pending review to bring in “fresh possibilities” for the site.

According to the council, the scope will analyse the location, design and the possibility of private financing as part of a thorough assessment of options.

KPMG’s report is expected next month, with a decision by the council’s cabinet in January.

Buckingham Group had been appointed under a preconstruction services agreement by the council and the review comes after the firm presented a target cost for construction of the arena.

A Bristol City Council statement said: “Buckingham’s work will now be paused until the KPMG review is received and considered.

“A pause at this stage of the preconstruction phase of a project is not unusual and it means the council will not be paying a contractor whilst there is no final decision on how to move forward.”

The current projected budget for the arena is £123.5m, for which funding is available from the Economic Development Fund (£53m), operator contribution and income (£42.5m) and infrastructure funding associated with the wider Temple Meads East project (£28m).

According to Bristol City Council, the current arena design would add “significant costs” to the project. The council declined to reveal the full project cost.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “Buckingham has done a good job and we now need to see what the wider review of the project says.

“I remain 100 per cent committed to delivering an arena for Bristol and with this in mind it is right to look at every available option, along with the benefits and drawbacks of each.

“We can’t commit to the current design on this specific site at any cost and I wouldn’t want that kind of blinkered approach to become the arena’s undoing.”

Buckingham was confirmed as the preferred bidder for the Arena project in June after Bouygues UK walked away from the project.

The UK arm of the French contractor decided to exit the scheme after failing to agree a price with the client over the work. 

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