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First look at brand-new community hub in historic aircraft hangar at Brabazon

Plans to convert a listed aircraft hanger at at Brabazon Park near Bristol have been unveiled by YTL Developments.

The hanger, which can trace its history back to 1915 and once housed Battle of Britain fighter planes, will become a a brand-new public library, café, gym and social centre.

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

Downstairs there will be a bustling open-plan café. 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 antenatal 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.

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.

The hanger 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 aircrafts.

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 its 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.