Plans to turn Devonshire Park into a bustling venue

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RADICAL ideas that could transform Devonshire Park into an all year round vibrant and bustling centre for residents and visitors from far afield have been revealed.

A new state of the art exhibition space to attract more conferences, a signature and destination restaurant, improved facilities for the international tennis tournament, better links with the seafront through greater pedestrianisation, major internal and external improvements to the Congress Theatre and Winter Garden, a sculpture trail from the town centre to and around Devonshire Park, the construction of an iconic new attraction on the site and a contemporary children’s play area within the park are among the wide range of concepts being considered.

The concepts were drawn up by internationally renowned architects, Marks Barfield, which famously designed the iconic London Eye, which in eight years since opening has attracted more than 20 million visitors.

As part of the brief, the team from Marks Barfield undertook a full assessment of the current site and the needs of those who use it.  The consultants interviewed 70 local individuals and organisations with an interest in Devonshire Park and the options were put before a senior board of decision makers this week.

Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt, said, “I think most people know that standing still and doing nothing is simply not an option for us.

“Our conference offer requires enhancement, the Congress Theatre and Winter Garden need significant repairs and refurbishment, the lack of disabled access within the Winter Garden is completely unacceptable and the park itself is little used outside of the summer months.

“However, we now have an opportunity to turn Devonshire Park into a must-see venue on the south coast for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests.  To that end I have been very impressed and encouraged by the ambitious and thought provoking concepts drawn up by Marks Barfield.” 

The project board will consider the many options put forward before a report is taken to the council’s Cabinet committee in December.

Leader of the Conservative opposition group and member of the project board, Councillor David Elkin, said, “The presentation by Marks Barfield included radical and far reaching ideas for how we can develop a venue that will appeal equally to conference organisers, theatre goers, tennis fans and local people who want to enjoy the ambience of Devonshire Park.

“The project board will identify a preferred approach and site design and from there a more detailed feasibility study can be worked up. There is no doubt that a successful regeneration of this key location will help deliver the economic benefits that the town needs.”