Communities Minister Stephen Williams joined partners at the Diesel Depot site beside Temple Meads station to mark the start of infrastructure work which will unlock the site for major development.
The £11.5 million project commissioned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will see a new two lane bridge installed over the River Avon to improve links with the station and the rest of the city.
This represents the first physical step in supporting Bristol City Council and the West of England LEP’s ambitions to bring a 12,000-capacity Arena to Bristol, which would be based on part of the Diesel Depot site.
It happened the same day as government announced a £6 million investment to Bristol’s Temple Quarter enterprise zone, to enable the redevelopment of underused and derelict land, support further development and attract new businesses to the area.
Speaking as work started on site, Mr Williams said: “Bristol city centre has already been transformed through the government and local enterprise zone’s support for the area, with rundown buildings redeveloped and turned into thriving businesses.”
Colin Skellett, chairman for the West of England LEP, said: “It’s great to see actual physical work starting on the arena site. This new bridge is a vital piece of infrastructure, opening up the site and improving access to and from the station and with the rest of the city.
“It brings us another step closer to the arena – something that is much needed for the city region, not just in giving us a first-class entertainment venue, but as a catalyst to investment here, creating future jobs and growth.”
Geoff Gollop, Deputy Mayor of Bristol, said: “I welcome the work commencing on the bridge to Arena Island which is set to bring so much more than the arena itself which is already proving a significant catalyst for development in the enterprise zone and will give a huge boost to the city region.”