Full steam ahead for the Bristol Temple Quarter regeneration
The Bristol Temple Quarter, one of the UK’s biggest and most ambitious regeneration projects, took a major step forward earlier this month as it received the long-awaited £95m in funding needed to kick start the scheme.
Central funding for the project was announced by Minister Neil O’Brien during a visit to the city, as part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda. Designed to help address regional inequalities by focusing on a highly deprived area of Bristol, the Temple Quarter scheme promises to generate skills, training and employment opportunities in the area, whilst improving transport, boosting regional productivity and economic growth.
The £95m will be focused immediately on the iconic Temple Meads station, unlocking approximately 2,500 homes by 2032 and supporting around 2,200 jobs. It will see a major overhaul of the station, with new entrances to the north, south and east, and will also create a link to the new £300m University of Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise campus.
The partnership between the West of England Combined Authority, Bristol City Council, Network Rail and Homes England will develop around 130 hectares of brownfield land, the equivalent to 182 football pitches. The Levelling Up funding will unlock the first phase of this scheme, with further plans to develop 57 hectares of land across St Philip’s Marsh in phase two. The wider project promises to create 22,000 jobs, and open up the whole of the Temple Quarter area for 10,000 new homes, bringing in an estimated £1.6bn into the region’s economy over the next 25 years.
The funding announcement comes amid real fears the project would never materialise. Whilst Sheffield and Wolverhampton were earmarked for ‘King’s Cross style regeneration projects’, Bristol was left off the list of Levelling Up schemes announced earlier this year, leading the city’s Mayor, Marvin Rees, to accuse Downing Street of broken promises on regeneration funding. This latest announcement, however, will be seen by many as recognition by the UK Government of Bristol’s economic potential and a major commitment to one of the UK’s most productive and fast-growing city regions.
Indeed, Bristol has created one of the most vibrant and successful economies in the UK, with the city among those with the highest productivity levels per capita. However, it also has some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country and has been in long-need of regeneration funding of this nature. The project ticks all the boxes in the Government’s wide-ranging levelling up policy, aiming to boost housing, transport, education and access to technology in forgotten communities. Many in the South West business community and nearby areas will be pleased and relieved to see the scheme reach its latest milestone. The project promises to create a thriving new area of the city and play a key role in boosting Bristol’s role as a major driver of the city region and Western Gateway economies.
The Temple Quarter has the potential to be a regional and national asset for levelling up the UK economy and creating clean, sustainable growth. It is a unique opportunity to make the city more sustainable and better connected, all whilst providing the affordable homes, accessible jobs and training that local people need.
With the Levelling Up funding secured, the test will now be in maintaining a successful joined up regional approach going forward. In helping Bristol realise its full economic potential, it will be key to ensure the infrastructure and jobs created match the city’s ambitions on tackling the climate emergency, making the project something the area can be proud of for many years to come.