Bid to make Brighton seafront a year-round attraction

From The Argus

Brighton seafront from the air

Brighton seafront from the air

A bid to revitalise parts of Brighton and Hove’s aged seafront could get a £24 million funding boost amid a new plan to make it an all year round attraction.

Brighton and Hove City Council has received positive funding news on plans for a new conference centre and arena at Black Rock and the renovation of Madeira Terraces and has also made a five-year improvement plan.

If successful, the bids will add to what Brighton and Hove City Council believes is the biggest programme of seafront investment anywhere in the country to move it away from a seasonal to a year-round visitor attraction.

The news comes 18 months after The Argus launched the Seafront 2020 campaign calling for an ambitious long-term vision for our county’s precious seafront.

One of our most pressing points calling for a five-year plan has now been met in Brighton and Hove with the recent publication of the Seafront Investment Plan 2016-2021.

The extensive report, produced with engineering consultants Mott MacDonald, outlines timelines for major seafront projects already in the pipeline as well as outlining an aspiration to complete the £100 million renovation of seafront arches west of Brighton Palace Pier.

It states: “Much of the coastal city’s visitor offer has been seasonal in the past, reducing the strength of this sector’s contribution to the economy. Development needs to ensure year-round utilisation of the seafront’s offer.

The report adds: “Proposals should support the year-round sport, leisure and cultural role of the seafront for residents and visitors whilst complementing its outstanding historic setting and natural landscape value.

Regarding Madeira Drive the report states the council and partners are working together to “create a year-round usable space that extends the total footfall along the seafront right through to the Marina.”

The report also explores how major projects could be funded with the authority “actively considering” borrowing against forecast business rates growth at an expanded Churchill Square to subsidise the cost of the Black Rock Arena.

Also explored is a possible supplement to business rates which could raise around £2 million a year though the report is quick to stress there are no current plans to bring this in.

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “The Seafront Investment Plan details our vision of how the whole seafront can be improved, the options for funding it and the challenges to be overcome.

“Madeira Terraces is a complex, long-term project but we will stick with it.

“It’s not possible anyway to start immediately because we have so much other regeneration work happening on the seafront.

“Progress is being made towards agreeing the conditional land agreement with Standard Life Investments for the £540 million Brighton Waterfront and we’re aiming to reach this milestone in the coming months.”

One of those major projects is the proposal to create 50 glass-fronted pods to nestle in the restored Madeira Terrace. The council has recently learnt its £4 million bid is through the first round of the Coastal Communities Fund.

The council also hopes to learn whether it has been successful in its £20 million for Local Growth Deal funding for the new centre at Black Rock.

The project was one of six Sussex projects shortlisted which could eventually bring a combined private sector investment of £745 million delivering almost 10,000 jobs, 600 homes and 300,000 sqm of employment space.

Chancellor Philip Hammond will unveil which projects have been successful in his autumn statement next month.

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