Ex-Post Office Depot, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol
New Urban Quarter for Bristol, Linking the new Business district, Bristol Temple Meads Station and the New Arena Site
This site has remained undeveloped for many years and is considered to be a notable City eye-sore, presenting a poor first impression to visitors as they enter Bristol by train. Along with the adjacent Network Rail land it is also one of the largest parcels of land in the proposed Temple Meads Quarter Enterprise Zone and is in a pivotal position, directly alongside the tracks with extensive waterfront to Totterdown Basin. The further significance of the site is that it stands on a direct path between the developed parts of the City and the proposed Arena site.
The potential for this Enterprise Zone (EZ) to provide a world-class planned urban expansion is enormous - with a compact and lively place to live, work, eat, play and sleep. However, it has one significant problem that could prove fatal to these ambitions. Proximity to the City does not necessarily equate to connectivity. The bulk of the EZ is very definitely on the wrong side of the tracks. The current City master-plan shows medium-density urban blocks flowing easily around the very-wide tracks. We think that this is unlikely to be delivered by the property market which is very sensitive to poor access. Pedestrian routes to the City and station, for the whole area south of the elevated tracks, rely on long dark tunnels and underpasses which, in our view, are not fit for purpose.
We therefore propose a new master-plan for the Central Gateway Zone and Arena portions of the EZ. This tackles the pedestrian/cycling infrastructure problems in a joined-up approach. We believe that there needs to be a wide green bridge across the tracks, overlooked by new residential and office development to provide passive surveillance. Ideally this would also be a rear entrance / new frontage to the station. This would greatly assist access and egress to the new Arena. The proposed bridge is a big ticket item, and is not without its own problems, but it is certainly possible if all the beneficiaries work together - and are prepared to contribute in proportion.
The first phase of the new urban quarter needs to have the identity of the whole, including almost the full range of anticipated uses and needs. There is also a requirement to have sufficient scale and depth to establish this as a highly-accessible waterfront quarter with exciting new possibilities for all aspects of City life. We are therefore propose offices and waterfront restaurants, around and under significant amounts of residential development, including a proposed residential tower and waterfront apartments. The adjacent Network Rail land could include a similar mix, perhaps also adding a hotel and student housing. All these uses would work well with the Arena, integrating it into the City and preventing it becoming a car-only “Entertainment Island” that might as well be out-of town like a shopping mall.