Bristol City Council – Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone and Arena Project Assurance Review

WRITTEN BY Local Partnerships
POSTED ON 7th March 2015

This is an example of two Assurance Reviews combined into a single process to save both time and money for the authority. The use of a single team undertaking two simultaneous reviews allowed efficient use of client resources and demonstrates how Local Partnerships is able to tailor its services to suit the unique circumstances of its client base.

The Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone has been described as “70 hectares of pure business potential”. It is a £1 billion mixed use urban regeneration programme focused on providing a brand new, purpose built, centrally located business hub adjacent to Bristol Temple Meads railway station. A flagship project within the Temple Quarter site is the delivery of an arena for Bristol that will act as a major catalyst and economic driver at both a city and regional level.

Bristol City Council appointed Local Partnerships to undertake an intensive assurance review to provide an expert external perspective on the current status of the Enterprise Zone programme at a strategic level and a more in-depth analysis of the Arena Project prior to key procurement decisions.

Alistair Reid, Bristol City Council, Service Director (Economy) commented: “The Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, with the new Arena at its heart, is a critical development for Bristol City and the region. In this challenging context, the external perspective, with the opportunity to pause, think, reflect and learn as part of a structured review process, has been invaluable”.


The aims of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone are to:

-Grow jobs and businesses, supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure. For example, a central feature of the Zone will be very high speed, pervasive digital connectivity.
-Attract creative, low carbon and high technology businesses, building on the region’s reputation as a creative hotspot.

Ultimately, the target is to provide 17,000 new jobs by 2037 and an Arena that provides a world-class venue and a high quality, flexible building that is also available for community use.


Up to the point of the review, the management of the programme had been purposely designed to be ‘light touch’ to reflect its emergent nature. However, there was increasing recognition that, as the programme moved into a more fast-paced delivery phase, these arrangements were causing challenges.

In addition, as plans for the Arena moved into the design phase, it was critical to ensure that the inter-dependencies with other projects and the programme were closely managed, to deliver the maximum value for the Zone as a whole and the wider city-region. The project was rapidly approaching the point at which contracts would be set that would commit the Council to significant expenditure. After decades of planning, the Council was on the verge of making the Arena a reality.


Local Partnerships has developed a variety of assurance reviews to support local delivery of a wide range of initiatives from council-wide transformation through to arm’s length trading. These include a new approach to provide strategic assurance of Enterprise Zones at key points during delivery of their programmes or critical projects within those programmes. In addition, Local Partnerships has been supporting the work of LEPs and was able to provide key insights into how LEPs, Local Authorities and other partners can collaborate to make more efficient use of scarce resources.

When Bristol City Council appointed Local Partnerships, the programme was gearing up to move more fully into delivery. The Arena project was nearing conclusion, with the procurement of the design team and operator.

The programme has successfully delivered a number of positive outcomes to date with constrained resources, despite a challenging environment. The review team concluded that there were some areas that needed to be addressed in the short term to capitalise on that success:

-Re-shaping governance arrangements – to be agile enough to meet the demands of an expected fast-paced delivery phase and respond quickly to opportunities that might only open for a short window of time.
-Further development of benefits mapping and management – to better demonstrate successful delivery. This will become increasingly important as it is likely that further successful applications for government funding will be dependent upon demonstrable delivery of existing targets
-Development of a resource management strategy – to ensure the short-, medium- and long-term supply of the right capacity and capability to drive delivery within a region that is starting to experience capacity shortfalls of key resources.

For the Arena project, the review team found a compact, highly capable project team who recognised and were addressing the remaining key risks to delivery. These risks included the final agreement to purchase the site, appointment of an operator, design team and contractor and management of external dependencies.


Alistair Reid added: “This was an engaging process which provided real insight into both the Enterprise Zone programme and the Arena project”.

As a result of the review, Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone and the Arena project feel better prepared for delivery and to face the significant challenges ahead.

Specifically, the management team felt the review provided:

-Added value – the opportunity to step back and reflect on the strategic over-sight of the programme and the position of the Arena project within that context
-Objectivity – the external perspective was critical in providing ‘distance’ and the opportunity for stakeholders and customers to provide candid feedback and discuss the programme with impartial experts in an open conversation.
-Confidence – the review provided assurance for the team to report delivery confidence to the sponsor government department
-A unique perspective – as part of the local government family, the review team combined in depth knowledge of the public sector, regeneration and infrastructure development.


Please get in touch to find out more about how an assurance review could help you and to discuss the options available, or how Local Partnerships could support you in other areas of your work.

Local Partnerships
Local Government House
Smith Square

020 7187 7379

Local Partnerships, helping the public sector deliver locally

⬆️ Strategic Director Martin Forbes writes for the MJ about levelling up and how to negotiate the challenges ahead. Join members of our bid review team for a webinar on 13 December to look at these issues further. Register here:

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