New Welcome Building at Congress takes shape

Eastbourne club visits the Welcome Building SUS-180205-150502001
Eastbourne club visits the Welcome Building SUS-180205-150502001

The steel framework of The Devonshire Quarter’s new Welcome Building is starting to take shape.

Over the next month, a total of 11 steel trusses will be installed, forming the steel frame of the new building that will link the Congress Theatre providing state-of-the-art conference and exhibition facilities to create a first-class cultural, conference and sporting complex, known as The Devonshire Quarter.

The inside of the Welcome Building SUS-180205-150703001

The inside of the Welcome Building SUS-180205-150703001

Each 18-metre-long steel truss weighs 11 tonnes and takes 250 hours to be manufactured in Sussex before being transported to Eastbourne on a lorry for installation by a crane that can lift up to 150 tonnes.

Once the steel framework is finished, contractors Vinci Construction UK will begin work on the structure of the 2,500 sqm building’s upper floors.

Members of the Eastbourne Premier Breakfast Club saw the £54 million transformation underway first-hand when they were given a tour of the site by Vinci Construction UK Project Manager Richard Etherington.

Eastbourne council leader David Tutt said, “This project represents the biggest public sector cultural investment in the south east and it was fantastic to be able to show local business people this transformational project coming to life making such great progress.”

In addition to the creation of the Welcome Building, the installation of a new mechanical and engineering system is underway at the Congress Theatre that will open next March with brand new seating, new lighting, new heating and air conditioning systems and new toilets.

To date, all 1,660 seats have been removed from the auditorium to be replaced by nearly 34,000ft of scaffolding while work is being carried out.

Refurbishment of the Winter Gardens is also taking place and preparation work for the new lift shaft, new toilets, new carpet and the creation of a new top-floor function room has already begun.

Council bosses say the creation of the Devonshire Quarter is on schedule for completion in March 2019. It will create around 100 new additional full-time jobs across the local economy and an additional £4.6 million spend per annum by visitors from a site that already generates £18 million spend.

Officials say the project has also secured the future international men’s and women’s tennis at Devonshire Park until at least 2026 and will give an economic boost from conference business worth £10 million per year.