An ambitious £44 million project to transform the town’s cultural quarter has been given the green light by councillors.
The Devonshire Park scheme was agreed at yesterday evening’s (Wednesday, December 9) Eastbourne Borough Council cabinet meeting.
Councillors hope the development will see the town becoming a premier conference and cultural destination – with major improvements also being made to the international tennis faciltiies.
A key part will be a Welcome Building that will provide conference halls, break out and hospitality areas, a cafe with views across the lawns and a fully accessible entrance to the Congress Theatre and Winter Garden, including lifts to every floor.
A stunning new plaza will make the Devonshire Park area fully accessible to residents and visitors.
The Grade II and Grade II* listed buildings, Devonshire Park Theatre, Congress Theatre and the Winter Garden, will also be extensively restored.
The business case for the scheme identifies an annual saving to the council of some £1m together with local job creation.
Councillor Margaret Bannister, Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure Services, said, “It is fantastic that our vision for Devonshire Park is now becoming a reality with the approval of full funding for the project.
“This scheme will put Devonshire Park on the map nationally in terms of being an exceptional venue for cultural and conference events, alongside first class international tennis facilities.
“Tourism in Eastbourne is a vital part of our economy and this development will ensure that we maintain our status as a resort people want to come to, as well as attracting new visitors.”
Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Tony Freebody, said, “I am looking forward to the transformation of Devonshire Park into a first class cultural hub. This is yet another piece of a large jigsaw puzzle that includes the much-needed rejuvenation of our listed theatres.”
Last year architects Levitt Bernstein were appointed to lead the design team and they will continue for the duration of the project.
Now the procurement process will begin with potential suppliers invited to express an interest in tendering for the phases of building work.
Construction will start next year and the project will be completed in 2020.
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