Historic hangar on airfield site set to be transformed into community hub

Visualisation of a repurposed aircraft hangar.
Visualisation of the repurposed Hangar 16U within the Brabazon development on the former Filton Airfield site. Image credit: Brabazon.

Hangar 16U – a Grade II listed aircraft hangar on the former Filton Airfield site – is set to be restored as a brand-new public library, café, gym and social centre, according to new plans unveiled by YTL Developments.

The building, which once housed Battle of Britain fighter planes, is located between the proposed site of Brabazon Park, a new 15-acre public park that was granted planning consent in October, and the first collection of new homes at Brabazon, known as The Hangar District.

The restoration work – designed by acclaimed Bristol-based architects Ferguson Mann – will see the historic building transformed into a 21st century community hub.

Visualisation of community space within a repurposed aircraft hangar.
Visualisation of community space on the ground floor of the repurposed Hangar 16U. Image credit: Brabazon.

Downstairs there will be a bustling open-plan café to catch up with friends for coffee or enjoy a family lunch. A new modern library will cater for adults and children alike, with casual seating on which to linger and learn. There will be quiet pods for studying and arched nooks for private meetings. Activity rooms will host a busy social calendar of events, offering anything from ante-natal classes to Zumba, while a community-focused fitness centre will have both cardio machines and weight-training facilities for those wanting to work out.

Upstairs will feature dedicated youth spaces and more activity rooms, creating a place for after-school clubs, informal study groups, workshops and recreation. A large hall will be a social space for multi-faith groups, a backdrop to the children’s creche or the perfect venue for public meetings and family events.

Advertising image.

Visitors will spill out onto the 15-acre Brabazon Park to the west, with its exercise area, children’s playgrounds and public lawns that will be perfect for picnicking. Then to the east, Hangar 16U will open onto a vibrant new public square, planned as a home for regular pop-up markets and street food stalls.

Hangar 16U will also become an important attraction along the new Heritage Trail through Brabazon, connecting the three historic buildings that give The Hangar District its name: The Brabazon Hangars (soon to be reimagined as YTL Arena Bristol), Hangar 16U and the popular Aerospace Bristol museum.

Photo of a historic aircraft hangar.
How it looks today: Hangar 16U on the former Filton Airfield site. Photo credit: Brabazon

The heritage of the hangar can be traced back to 1915, when it began life as an Aircraft Acceptance Facility for the Royal Flying Corps. The new facility needed to be close to The Bristol and Colonial Aeroplane Company, whose founder Sir George White had established Filton Airfield in 1910.

The hangar continued to act as a service facility for the RAF until the Second World War, when it housed both Spitfires and Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft.


The new building will retain many of the historic features that make the hangar so unique, such as the iconic prefabricated Belfast trusses of the roof, to the intricate red brickwork, which is echoed within the urban design of the new houses and apartments now on sale at The Hangar District.

Sebastian Loyn, planning and development director, YTL Developments said:

“The restoration of Hangar 16U will see this historic structure return to its rightful place as the centre of community life. As a vibrant local hub and multi-use space, it will celebrate culture, nurture social bonds and be a focal point for the new community at Brabazon.”

“Whether it’s meeting old friends in the café or making new friends at community workshops, the new social centre will provide something for everyone, a place for all ages and for all interests, for this generation and the next.”

Work to restore the building is due to commence in 2023 with a target of opening in 2024.

Funding bid

South Gloucestershire Council has submitted a bid for £5.1 million of aid from the government’s Levelling Up Fund for the restoration and conversion of the hangar.

The council says it would work with landowners YTL Developments to ensure that the heritage of the building is preserved and that Hangar 16U becomes a true community asset, accessible on foot, by bicycle and via public transport.

The Government’s Levelling Up Fund was created to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including to support projects that invest in, maintain and expand cultural and heritage assets.

In-house promotional image.

Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Toby Savage, said:

“Preserving the outstanding heritage of Filton Airfield is a vital aspect of our vision for its regeneration and by restoring and reintroducing the hangar to community use, this will give it a new purpose and ensure it remains a historic local feature for generations to come.”

“As local councillors Jo, Sanjay and Brian have made clear to me the importance of providing new facilities and services not just to the new residents of Brabazon, but also the existing Charlton Hayes community as well – and this bid seeks to unlock the necessary funding to do just that.”

Photo of a group of people wearing hi-vis vests standing in front of a historic aircraft hangar.
South Gloucestershire councillors and YTL Developments staff pictured outside Hangar 16U.

Cllrs Jo Buddharaju, Brian Hopkinson and Sanjay Shambhu, who represent the Charlton and Cribbs ward, said:

“We are delighted that the council has submitted this bid, which will help ensure our new and growing communities have the social and economic infrastructure they need to thrive. We look forward to seeing the outcome of the bid and hope that Charlton Hayes and Brabazon get this support to thrive as they grow.”

More information and related links: