Plans revealed for live music venue to bring ‘massive’ shows to south Bristol

It is one of a number of schemes people in the Filwood Broadway area want after £14.5 million funding was awarded

<p>Filwood Community Centre could be transformed into a live events venue with the area’s Levelling Up funding.</p>

Filwood Community Centre could be transformed into a live events venue with the area’s Levelling Up funding.

Filwood Broadway could provide the location for the latest live music venue in Bristol - as businesses and residents share how they would like the £14.5million Levelling Up funding for the area to be spent.

Filwood Community Centre would be transformed with some of the allocated funds if trustee Vicky Beckwith gets her way. Vicky was consulted on how the resources should be spent on the area prior to Bristol City Council’s successful bid.

She told Bristol World: “Because of my trustee role at the centre I was partly involved with the bid - as was Makala Cheung, the creative director, who put a huge amount of effort into the bid alongside the council.

“The ambition for the building is to have an up-to-date live venue which isn’t currently available in south Bristol. A music venue that could also be used as a flexible space - a roof that doesn’t leak would also be nice. We want something to keep the building’s beautiful 1930s look but enable us to hold massive events in its enormous hall. We recently held a comedy show but at the moment everyone has to bring their equipment - the centre is fit for the 1930s but not fit for 2023.”

Vicky is also the chief executive of Broadway’s Rework charity, based next door to the area’s cinema which is soon to be demolished to make way for housing. When discussing plans for the rest of the neighbourhood, she added: “You can’t waste an afternoon in Knowle West - you can’t poke around a few shops, have a coffee and go to an art exhibition. Those things that make people travel to an area are lacking here at the moment and it isn’t because of a lack of desire from business owners.

“We’ve had people try to open a tropical fish shop, tattoo parlour and more so this funding should be used to develop the retail sites but the plans for the cinema site have flaws. It removes back access to retail properties, including mine. What kind of business is likely to move into the lot without loading and uploading? Also, you couldn’t get a refuse collection from the back so you could have a scenario where there’s a load of Levelling Up money invested in the street but you don’t want your glossy, new pedestrian precinct to have huge, overflowing bins out the front.”

There are close to 30 retail units which line the street, but on Friday lunchtime (January 20) many had the shutters drawn down. Inside the popular Sandwich Shop cafe four women - Gloria, Sue, Suzanne and Karen - gave their thoughts on how the £15m should be spent.

“It’s shops we need,” They all agreed. “It used to always be busy down here, full of different shops with a Liptons, the Co-Op, a bakery and Dean the butcher. A lot has changed for the worse.”

(Left to right) Gloria, Suzanne, Sue and Karen enjoying an afternoon in Filwood.

Karen added: “A large supermarket should be the priority - and after that a local doctor’s surgery because it’s almost impossible to get an appointment elsewhere. Something to get the place back up and running.”

Eighty-one-year-old Gloria said: “The buses aren’t regular around here, and they’re cutting another 42 services, so travelling to a supermarket is becoming harder. I can’t get to grips with online shopping so a place for me to do a weekly shop would be great.”

Ward councillor Zoe Goodman has said plans are in place for a small store to be added to the groundfloor of the cinema site with housing based above.

Phillip hopes to see the area transformed into a modern business hub.

Elsewhere, Phillip, 60, hopes to see most of the area flattened and replaced with a modern-looking design.

“I remember going to the cinema back in the day and it was brilliant but now it looks like it should be in 1930s New York. You can picture Al Capone pulling up to the building to attend a court hearing,” He said.

“Replacing it with housing will be good - the area needs it. Out with the old and in with the new, I say. Demolish this whole area and replace it with modern buildings to attract businesses and get rid of these closed shutters. This was packed when I was younger, it had a range of stores and you didn’t have to leave Knowle West to pop into town for anything.

Many of the retail spaces along Filwood Broadway were closed.

“Don’t spend the £15million saving old buildings, knock them down for people who need homes. Get something built where the swimming baths used to be, probably a supermarket. Currently, I travel to Broadwalk or town for my shopping.”

When the funding was announced last week, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said the funding would be used to ‘deliver more new homes and community and business space in the heart of Knowle West’. The council has two years to spend the money.