Tag Archives: Brighton Centre

Concerns over secrecy surrounding arena at Black Rock

From The Argus

Black Rock

Conservationists have raised concerns about the secrecy surrounding one of the largest development projects in the city’s history.

The Regency Society has called for more information to be made public about the £540 million Waterfront project for Brighton, saying they are concerned plans to build a new 10,000-capacity arena could be set in concrete before the city gets a say.

The civic group has warned the plans to also expand Churchill Square could see the “lively heart” of the city’s independent shops threatened by “a large, monolithic shopping centre”.

Brighton and Hove City Council directors said the authority was in negotiations with Standard Life Investments over a “complex land swap” but has committed to full engagement when talks have concluded.

It is planned to demolish the Brighton Centre and Kingswest cinema to expand Churchill Square shopping centre and fund a new “world-class” conference and events centre at Black Rock.

Architects WilkinsonEyre, who designed the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the London Olympics’ basketball arena as well as drawing up initial designs for the Madeira Terraces, are developing a masterplan for the scheme, expected to create 2,000 jobs and bring £4.6 million annually for the public purse.

Initial council timelines had anticipated public consultation to start around now to allow a planning application to be submitted next year.

In February the council was granted £12 million from Coast to Capital LEP towards the cost of redeveloping Black Rock which has been derelict for 30 years.

Regency Society chairman Roger Hinton said the major project could have serious repercussions for the city but residents and amenity groups have received minimal details.

The group is concerned about access to an expanded Churchill Square and the arena which is 2.5 miles from the city’s main railway station.

Mr Hinton said: “We are worried that a major deal is about to be struck which could make huge changes to our city. We are disappointed so little effort is being made to consult with interest groups and local people to ensure we share the council’s vision.”

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “I know the charge is sometimes made the council is too secretive. We want to engage with people as much as possible but obviously we have always got the concerns around the need to negotiate properly and privately with people without doing it in the full glare of publicity where things get taken out of context.

“It is balance that we have to strike and hopefully we are getting it right.”

Seafront arches to be rebuilt in £10m two-year project

From Brighton & Hove News

Arches on Brighton seafront are to be rebuilt as part of a £10 million project lasting more than two years that will also shore up the main road above.

Some of the money will be spent on rebuilding the Shelter Hall – the Victorian hall on the promenade opposite the bottom of West Street.

Work will start next although some of the preparations have already started on the prom below the A259 King’s Road.

The scheme will mean drivers enduring more lane closures. Part of the road was coned off after a hole opened up in April last year. The road fully reopened in January but Brighton and Hove City Council said further work would be needed.

The council said “Brighton and Hove was one of only relatively few councils to win funding from the government’s Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.

“The council secured £9 million to undertake the work which will also save the seafront road from collapse and protect it for the future.

“The scheme will rebuild the historic Shelter Hall to become a flagship commercial location for the 21st century, creating a new walkway on the beach, enlarging the upper prom area and building new public toilets on the seafront.

“Preparatory work has begun on realignment of the lower promenade opposite the bottom of West Street. Construction is planned to start in October.

“As the work progresses, one lane of the westbound carriageway will be shut for a distance of about 50 metres either side of the bottom of West Street. The junction will include a filter for right turns into West Street.

“Due to the age of the structure and complexity of the construction, the closure is expected to be in place from 2016 for two and a half years.

“The Shelter Hall, at 150-154 King’s Road Arches, was built in the 1880s supporting the upper promenade and the highway.

“This is now the main coastal route through the city and engineers will be rebuilding it underneath the road.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said:  “We have a once in a generation opportunity to do this work and we are fortunate to have secured funding to completely rebuild a section of the seafront highway, provide a new sea wall and reconstruct an historic building.

“This is the first stage of our investment into the seafront’s infrastructure which is urgently in need of restoration and regeneration.

“The project is not only essential for the seafront but will protect the A259 for the next 150 years.

“If we don’t do it now, we risk the road becoming unusable and being closed entirely.

“This autumn we will bring forward more solutions to save our seafront as we put together a practical programme to regenerate the city’s jewel in the crown.”

Brighton’s Shelter Hall is part of the historic King’s Road Arches. It is currently closed because it is in such a poor condition.

The council said that the work, including the rebuilding of the Shelter Hall, had to be done to prevent the A259 from collapsing.

A spokesman for one of the key property owners in the area, Standard Life Investments, welcomed the news.

The company is the council’s partner for the Waterfront Project – the proposal to extend Churchill Square to the seafront and build a new Brighton Centre for concerts and conferences at Black Rock.

James Stevens, head of UK development at Standard Life Investments, said: “Standard Life Investments welcomes the council’s proposals to rebuild Shelter Hall and reconfigure the junction above.

“This project supports two of the city’s most important assets – the seafront and the transport network.

“Making the city as easy to move around as possible is as important as protecting the seafront and the existing infrastructure.

“It’s great to see this confidence in the city and we’re sure it will help to encourage other investors to get started on their own projects.”

The council is contributing nearly £1.7 million towards the scheme from Local Transport Plan funding.

The project will be overseen by the team which created the award-winning seafront arches restoration near the i360 development.

The council said that it would make sure that disruption to traffic was kept to a minimum. It added that the partial lane closure would be linked to an overall plan to ensure traffic management was coordinated with other major schemes in the city.

During the work to rebuild the Shelter Hall, shared pedestrian and cycle access along the upper prom would be maintained at all times, along with access to the lower prom.

The West Street junction would also be kept open, including access to Churchill Square and the car parks.

Last year, a council scrutiny panel looked into the state of the seafront infrastructure in Brighton. In a report it said that new revenue sources would be crucial to maintaining the seafront.

Public funds would be insufficient, it said, to meet the projected £100 million repairs bill for aging retaining walls and structures.

£540 million Brighton seafront development plans approved.

From The Argus

brighton centre.jpg-pwrt2

Brighton Centre

The £540 million redevelopment of Brighton seafront has been given unanimous cross-party political support.

Councillors from all three main parties spoke of their excitement at the overhaul of Churchill Square, the Brighton Centre, Kings West and Black Rock sites as they backed the scheme.

The plans, discussed at a specially-arranged policy and resources committee yesterday morning, would see a new 10,000-seat exhibition and live performance venue at the seafront Black Rock site and the extension of Churchill Square down to Kings Road.

Transport links were highlighted as a potential problem – but a park and ride scheme could be introduced to overcome it – as well as social housing.

But Councillors were warned that the greatest risk was to take no action and flag behind rival cities.

Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the economic development and culture committee, said: “Now seems to be the perfect moment, everything seems right.

“If we don’t seize the moment, I think future generations will say we were lily livered. Now is not the time to be uncourageous. This is a huge opportunity to have an integrated transport system, not just from Black Rock to the stations but beyond to the King Alfred.”

Council officers warned the agreement was far from a “done deal” and a lot of work was needed to engage with residents and businesses.

It is hoped that local economic partnership Coast-to-Capital which has shown initial interest in the proposals will partner the project.

Labour group leader Warren Morgan said: “I think we have the opportunity to secure the city’s financial future for decades to come and to secure Brighton and Hove as a tourist, conference, event and shopping destination and venue for the 21st century.”

The plans would be part of a major overhaul of the city’s seafront, alongside the redevelopment of the King Alfred Leisure Centre, the construction of the i360, the regeneration of the Kings Road Arches and the expansion of Brighton Marina.

Council officers told the committee they hoped that all these projects would also attract further investment and development along the city’s coast.

The meeting heard that the Brighton Centre established the city’s reputation as a conferencing city but was now outdated.

An upgrade would cost up to £105 million – a price tag unlikely to be met by the council.

Green councillor Bill Randall said that the city needed to “reinvent ourselves and up our game” after being overtaken by conference venues in Harrogate, Manchester and Birmingham.

Nick Russell, director of developers Venue Ventures, has previously worked on the 13,500 capacity Leeds Arena which opened in September last year and has already hosted major acts including Elton John, Dolly Parton and The Who. Mr Russell said the new Brighton arena would attract bands that city residents currently travel to London to see.

Labour councillor Les Hamilton said, as well as bringing top acts back to the city, he the new venue also needed to attract top, international conferences.

Cllr. Kitcat said a vibrant conference industry was important for the city both nationally and internationally. He said: “I hope we can up our ambition with this and seeking to do something different that is greater and better.”

Cllr. Bowden said it was vital that there was also an entertainment element to the new arena to boost revenue: “The entertainment side is as important as the conference side, possibly more.”

Leeds Arena, now known as The First Direct Arena, was nominated for the 2014 Carbuncle Cup recognising the ugliest buildings in the country.

Conservative councillor Lynda Hyde stressed the importance of good design and praised recent projects to convert the former Co-op store in London Road and the new American Express offices in John Street, while reminding the committee of the failings of star architect Frank Gehry’s “wobbly towers” of the failed King Alfred development.

James Stevens, head of development at landowners Standard Life Investments, told the committee that the current layout behind Churchill Square including Canon Place and Russell Road was “obscene” and that the overhaul of the area would create an “unprecedented” opportunity to improve the public space.

He said: “This is not just about putting in more shops but creating that connectivity from Western Road to the sea.” He said the extended site would not be “just another vanilla shopping centre” but be “distinctive and complimentary to the Lanes”.

He said it would include more catering and leisure in a bid to increase the time shoppers spend in Churchill Square, which currently lagged behind similar shopping centres. Mr Stevens said work over the next 12 months would search for solutions to the transport problems including a possible park and ride and more bus routes between Brighton Railway Station and Black Rock.

Conservative councillor Ann Norman said transport was a “critical” issue, as the Brighton Centre was currently on the “perfect site”. She said: “A park and ride facility has got to be a priority for any new administration.”

Coun Randall said: “It will move congestion away from Churchill Square and on to the seafront, a positive in reducing pollution and congestion around Churchill Square and the Clock Tower.”

Labour councillor Jeane Lepper said the development of Black Rock could also boost businesses in Brighton Marina. Council funds would have to pay for conferences to be held temporarily elsewhere in the city after the Brighton Centre closes and before the new Black Rock arena opens.

Green councillor Ollie Sykes said the Brighton Centre should remain open until the “last minute”, after previous redevelopment plans caused bookings to drop off because of doubts surrounding its future.

Coun Lepper said the process should be progressed more quickly than other major projects in the city, describing the plans to develop Preston Barracks in Lewes Road into retail, employment and academic centre and 350 new homes as like “wading through treacle”.

Committee chairman Cllr. Kitcat said the process would be “more like a foxtrot” while strategic director Geoff Raw said a planning application for Churchill Square could be submitted within 12 months, with a further report back to councillors by early 2015.

Mr Raw said: “This development creates the opportunity to invest in the seafront in a way that would be very difficult if we were just looking at these sites on their own. There is no guarantee to leverage money from Government, but this does give us so much more opportunity to persuade Government.

“There are all sorts of practical considerations for placing a building on the seafront but also creating something iconic, something distinctive to add to Brighton’s rich and valuable cultural heritage.”

New stadium hotel plan approved

THE committee approved new arrangements for leases on council land for a proposed hotel at the American Express Community Stadium at Falmer and the redevelopment of City College Brighton and Hove.

The majority of discussions took place behind closed doors because of the business sensitivity of the financial details involved.

The lease on land next to the American Express Community Stadium, which the stadium owners want to develop land into a four star 150 bedroom hotel, restricted usage to just 30 days a year.

Albion executive director Martin Perry told The Argus yesterday that with the new lease agreement, which removes that restriction, a planning application could be submitted next year, but work would be unlikely to start before September’s Rugby World Cup fixtures.

A lease agreement was also reached over the City College site in Pelham Street, Brighton, at yesterday’s meeting.

The college came to the city council for assistance amid fears that neighbouring property owners could hold up the redevelopment which has already received planning consent or hold the college “to ransom”.

Under the agreement, the council would take a 99 year peppercorn lease out on the site to ensure the project can go ahead.

The scheme is predicted to bring in £79million of investment, 141 construction jobs and up to £1million additional local spending per year.

What the development means in numbers

New exhibition centre

  • 10,000 max capacity with mix of seating and standing or 8,500 capacity all-seated.
  • VIP hospitality and boxes.
  • Main conference hall capable of hosting between 500 and 1,500 delegates.
  • Additional meeting rooms for 1,250 delegates.

Development of the Brighton Centre and Kings West

  • 238,000 sqft of additional retail
  • 45,000 sqft of restaurants and cafes
  • 30,000-40,000 sqft for cinema use

Estimated boost to council finances.

Churchill Square site:

  • Net Additional Business rates – £3million a year
  • Additional council tax – £300,000
  • New Homes Bonus (payable for 6 years) – £400,000

Black Rock site:

  • Net Additional Business rates – £500,000
  • Additional council tax – £200,000
  • New Homes Bonus (payable for 6 years) – £200,000

Total forecast of additional annual revenue £4.6million

Total development value of £540million

  • Broken down into Churchill Square site £375million
  • Black Rock site £165million
  • 2,000 new full time equivalent jobs
  • 1,200 construction jobs