Permission granted for 1,514-bed student flats on former Filton Airfield

Artist’s Impression of 8-storey student accommodation blocks.
Artist’s Impression of proposed student residences at the Brabazon development on the former Filton Airfield site (looking north from the adjacent railway line).

YTL Developments has secured planning permission for four 8-storey apartment blocks at its Brabazon development on the former Filton Airfield site.

The purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) will be capable of providing 1,514 bedrooms along with associated communal facilities.

The apartment blocks will be built in the south-east corner of the airfield site, backing onto the Henbury Spur railway line and close to the site of the proposed new North Filton Station. The Brabazon hangars, which are being transformed into a 19,000-seat arena complex, lie on the other side of the railway line about 375m to the west.

The U-shaped accommodation blocks will incorporate south-facing landscaped courtyards and will have their north-facing frontages aligned along Station Street, one of the secondary east-west roads defined in the airfield masterplan.

Aerial view showing site of proposed student accommodation blocks (shown in red shading).
Site of proposed student accommodation blocks (shown in red shading) within the former Filton Airfield site. View looking west with the A38 running horizontally across the centre of the image.

YTL has outline permission, granted in 2018, to build 2,675 homes on the airfield site. However, it has since submitted a further outline planning application which, if approved, would see the housing density increased to accommodate up to 6,500 homes.

South Gloucestershire Council says it treated the PBSA scheme as a standalone application for full planning permission, and not as a follow-on application to the extant outline planning permission for the whole airfield site. In doing so, officers noted that the PBSA site lies within an area which the approved masterplan designates for ’employment use’ with buildings up to four storeys high.

YTL has submitted two additional planning applications (P23/02452/NMA & P23/02459/RVC) which, together, are intended to amend the extant outline planning permission such that the PBSA scheme would be in “full accordance” with it. However, these additional applications remain undetermined by the local authority at the time of writing.

Map showing site boundary.
Site boundary (red outline) of proposed student residences at the Brabazon development on the former Filton Airfield site, shown within the context of the site-wide masterplan submitted as part of of the yet-to-be-approved outline planning application P22/02113/O.

Designed by leading local architects Stride Treglown, the apartment blocks will have the space students want, both to socialise and to study. Separate bedrooms are arranged in clusters around communal spaces that will balance studying with a rich social experience.

Inside, there will be dining areas and karaoke rooms, a gaming suite and gym, as well as shared studies and quiet working areas. Outside, the landscaped courtyards and green spaces include exercise areas and even a basketball court as well as south-facing gardens.

Advertising image.

The PBSA scheme is intended to be open in September 2026, by which time the North Filton Station and adjoining Station Square should be operational. The YTL Arena and nearby Brabazon Park (a large new urban park) are scheduled to follow by the end of 2026.

The proposed scheme will be ‘direct let’ and therefore not affiliated with any specific academic institution. However, given the proximity, it is considered likely that future residents of the scheme will attend either the University of the West of England (UWE) or the University of Bristol.

3D model of proposed student accommodation.
3D model of proposed student residences at the Brabazon development on the former Filton Airfield site.

A Design and Access Statement submitted as part of the application says the student accommodation has been designed in such a way as to enable it to be delivered in “manageable development phases”. However, details of its delivery are not yet finalised and it is possible that the whole development will be constructed as single entity.

A spokesperson for YTL said:

“At present, a lack of dedicated student accommodation [in the wider Bristol area] risks resulting in large numbers of HMOs that can upset the balance of some neighbourhoods.”

“When the new student accommodation at Brabazon opens in time for the 2026-7 academic year, it will provide an inclusive place to live that is conducive to learning and be part of a sustainable solution to the challenges posed by the housing shortage elsewhere in the city.”


Travel options

In addition to the planned railway connection, the airfield site will be served by the M4 MetroBus service which connects Cribbs Causeway with central Bristol, via Bristol Parkway Station and UWE. Buses on this service, which began operating in January 2022, are currently by-passing the airfield site by using Hayes Way. However, it is anticipated that they will take up their planned route along Runway Avenue, which forms the main spine road of the airfield masterplan, by the time of first occupation of the PBSA scheme.

The resident students will also have active travel options as the UWE Frenchay Campus is just a 1.5 mile walk or cycle away along dedicated bike paths and pedestrian routes. Cycle parking at the Brabazon accommodation will be provided at a ratio of effectively one space for every two residents, amounting to 750 spaces in total. Cycle parking will be covered and secure, with two layers of secure entry (external gate and store door) as well as CCTV coverage.

In-house promotional image.

Parking provision

YTL says the student accommodation will be entirely “car-free”, with the exception of eight marked disabled parking bays. No dedicated staff parking will be provided.

According to the planning officer’s report, the absence of on-site parking will act as a deterrent to car ownership in its own right, but further controls will be implemented via residents’ tenancy agreement. Residents will be prohibited from parking a vehicle within two miles of the site – non-compliance would be a breach of the tenancy agreement and YTL has stated that this would result in enforcement action being taken.

Regarding the need for car access when students are moving in and out at the start and end of each academic year, the applicant has advised that the student welcome pack will require them to book a timeslot for arrival, to avoid a surge in demand at peak times which could lead to vehicles obstructing Station Street. If students arrive outside their nominated time they would not be permitted to enter and unload and would have to wait until the next available timeslot.

In-house promotional image.

Sebastian Loyn, planning and development director at YTL Developments, commented:

“Brabazon is designed to live up to the pioneering legacy of the former Filton Airfield and inspire the next generation. New purpose-built student accommodation is essential to our vision to create a thriving, diverse new neighbourhood for Bristol.”

“When the student accommodation completes, approximately 400 private homes will also be occupied, giving a total of almost 2,000 new residents from all generations by 2026-7.”

“This represents a critical mass.”

“The new residents will facilitate the arrival of a new breed of cafes, shops and restaurants.”

“They will ensure the new public transport services – both the MetroBus and new train station – become sustainable and reliable options for the whole community.”

“Alongside the existing world-leading engineering cluster, the new residents at Brabazon will accelerate the transformation of North Bristol, ensuring it remains a place of opportunity and drives local prosperity for the next 100 years.”

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