The government has money to give away for what it calls “smart cities” – and Bristol wants some of it.
The idea – announced in last year’s budget – is for the ten biggest cities in the country to encourage investment in hi-tech communications, based on superfast broadband and other initiatives. In turn this would stimulate other schemes.
Bristol’s City Deal envisages a new hub of development around the derelict site next to Temple meads station, earmarked for a concert arena and conference centre.
This on-off scheme has long been an aim, first put forward by the now-defunct Regional Development Agency, now taken up by the Local Enterprise Partnership.
The RDA spent a fortune clearing the land, only for a developer to pull out.
Bristol hopes to get £25 million to kick-start the project, and officials are at Westminster today to outline a “shopping list” of other schemes, which also include unlocking development land at Avonmouth via a new motorway junction. It also wants greater financial freedom to offer long-term investment bonds – something the government is keen on – and, controversially, exemption for the Town and Village Green rules that are holding up a new stadium for Bristol City.
Liverpool and Manchester have already been awarded their share of funds; Bristol will find out if it’s been successful in May.