Waiting for your train to arrive is something all too familiar to many of us. Waiting for the money to reinvigorate Bristol Temple Meads and Temple Quarter, and kickstart the development of the surrounding area, is something all of Bristol has been eagerly waiting on for more than a decade.
I remember the first Temple Quarter Strategic Board meeting way back in September 2017, where I, along with colleagues from Network Rail, Bristol University, the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) and the West of England Combined Authority met to outline our vision for Bristol, its relationship with Temple Meads and the potential to create a world class gateway to the city and region.
It’s thanks to the success of this partnership and the hard work of all those involved from the beginning, who have represented Bristol at the highest level and presented a clear vision for the city and Temple Quarter, that we are now at this exciting moment where I am delighted to say that the long-anticipated £94.7 million investment from government in Bristol has arrived, as announced today by Neil O’Brien MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, on his visit to Bristol.
This will represent a new phase for Brunel’s historic station. Opened in 1840, and expanded in the 1870s and 1930s, Bristol Temple Meads is set to double its capacity to 22 million passengers per year. It will support three new or significantly improved station entrances planned to the north, south, and east of Temple Meads and crucially, a new public transport interchange on the Friary on the northern side of the station, becoming a new transport hub with easy connections for pedestrians, cycling and the bus network.
Although we are improving suburban rail in Bristol, with the first new station in almost a century, we know that these other public transport connections are essential to link everyone with the jobs and homes at this transport interchange. This will improve connectivity for people across the city region and reduce carbon emissions, particularly as we bring forward the mass transit system Bristol needs to manage this growth in the most sustainable way.
Importantly, it will further unlock the area around Bristol Temple Meads as a new residential quarter, with up to 22,000 new jobs and 10,000 new homes in 130 hectares (equivalent to about 182 football pitches) in a sustainable location. The first phase alone looks to build 2,500 homes and provide at least two thousand jobs. This combines with the investment the University of Bristol are making in the area, with its Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus programme, and the council’s plans with Legal & General to invest in the mixed-use site at Temple Island, with a conference centre, new affordable homes, and retail space.
Plans are already underway in Temple Quarter, with a development brief for Mead St, part of Temple Quarter which could provide 1500 new homes and 500 jobs, out to public consultation. You can read the proposals for Mead St and complete the survey online by 4 July.
The Government’s own Levelling Up agenda emphasises that “Mayors have already shown how strong local leadership can enhance economic and other opportunities in urban areas”. By unlocking homes and public service infrastructure, Temple Quarter exemplifies this vision, transforming a vast area of Bristol into a thriving, new urban quarter which will contribute an estimate £1.6 billion annual boost to the local economy.
This long-awaited green light can help support our recovery from the pandemic and lay the foundations for Bristol for the next century; a city which has a world class transport network, quality, affordable homes and accessible jobs at the heart of the city. We will continue to work with partners, businesses and communities already in the area to manage this huge change in a way that will benefit as many people as possible. It is great to finally get this development in train.