A new £300m University of Bristol campus that will lie at the heart of one of Europe’s largest urban regeneration projects has taken a step closer to becoming a reality with the sale of the former sorting office behind Temple Meads.
The development on the site of the infamous derelict building has been hailed as an opportunity to breathe fresh life into the long-neglected area of urban decay and “assure the economic viability” of the city centre.
Bristol City Council’s cabinet members have now approved the sale of a 2.9 hectare plot that has long been an eyesore greeting visitors to the city by train.
It is hoped that the new campus will open in time for the start of the 2021/22 academic year, with the university promising a Digital Innovation Hub, a “business school of the future” and a student residential village.
“When the Enterprise Zone was established, people thought having an anchor in the centre of it was important; I do not think anyone envisioned it would be the university,” said cabinet member for place, Helen Holland.
“Having it there and the commitment to opening doors to people young and old will be a real catalyst for development around that Temple Quarter.
“The idea of bringing life into the area because of the student population and activities that will go on are very much hand in hand with the Engine Shed and space for entrepreneurs to develop.”
But not everybody is happy. Co-director of Bristol Wood Recycling Project, Kaleb Debbage, made a plea for the council to give it consideration under the regeneration plans that would see the not-for-profit social enterprise forced out of its current site.
He said: “Every day, I go to work and train our volunteers, many of whom are from marginalised groups. I train them to build furniture using reclaimed timber they source themselves. We do this in a way that pays for itself. It is resilient and sustainable.”
Holland assured him that the council will continue working with the project to secure a suitable new site, but added that there is a “bigger prize” at stake in securing future sustainability for the city.
Mayor Marvin Rees added: “We are committed to inclusion. We are stretched as an organisation so if there are any sites that you have your eye on, you need to be pro-active and come to us and we will have a conversation.”
Read more: A new vision for a derelict eyesore