Cost of refurbishing Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Quarter rockets

Building works outside Congress and Winter Garden Theatres in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby)
Building works outside Congress and Winter Garden Theatres in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby)

The bill for the multi-million project to rejuvenate the town’s theatres and Devonshire Park has shot up and an extra £9 million has to be found.

Eastbourne council has admitted it will have to borrow £4million to make sure the project – which includes the refurbishment of the Winter Garden, Congress Theatre, new Welcome Building, plaza and tennis facilities – is completed.

Artist's impression of Devonshire Park project SUS-151012-101301001

Artist's impression of Devonshire Park project SUS-151012-101301001

Council bosses say the reason the cost of the project has jumped from £44million to £53million is due to the potential impact of Brexit, an “overheated construction market”, a lack of construction workers and the rising costs in general.

A report due to go before the council’s cabinet committee on Wednesday says it became apparent at the end of 2016 that the scheme faced substantial cost increases.

It also means that although major work will be carried out at the Winter Garden and a lift installed, it will not be redecorated nor the toilets refurbished.

Eastbourne council leader David Tutt said, “The impact of Brexit on the contractor’s costs and the ensuing difficulty they had in obtaining competitive sub-contractor prices for works in Eastbourne, given our location and draw of the London market, has played a significant part in this budget increase.

Building works outside Congress and Winter Garden Theatres in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170902-105605008

Building works outside Congress and Winter Garden Theatres in Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170902-105605008

“Additionally, the decision to invest more money than originally planned in the construction of brand new changing facilities for the world’s top tennis players, has helped to secure the future of international tennis here for another ten years. Like many projects of this scale there have also been design and site issues that only emerged as work progressed.

“The project will generate around 100 additional jobs and a return to the council. Crucially, despite the increased cost of the project, the business case for the investment and returns the project will generate are hugely positive.”