The committee has been considering the Council's proposals to create a new conference and events centre at Black Rock for some time. The Council wants to fund the new centre with a deal involving Standard Life Investments (SLI). This is a complex and far reaching scheme which includes a much enlarged Churchill Square shopping centre. We're calling for much more consultation about it.
We need to know more
Despite its very significant scale, there is little information about this proposal.
What will the impact on our city centre be? How will a huge events venue at Black Rock, which may be as high as the cliff to accommodate up to 10,000 visitors, sit alongside the Kemp Town Estate? How will thousands of event attendees travel to and from the new venue? Is it really true that a conference venue in the middle of Brighton cannot be made to work in the 21st century? The city centre is the place where hotels and restaurants are in plentiful supply. The station is within walking distance. So why move major conferences and events out to Black Rock? This site is immediately below some of Britain's finest Grade 1 listed 19th century buildings. We urgently need to know more.
We need answers to these questions and many more. The Council has not provided them so far. It does not seem ready to consult with the people of Brighton and Hove, claiming these issues are sensitive because of the proposed deal with SLI.
Consultation is crucial
We understand that some issues need commercial confidentiality. We also understand that the city needs inward investment. However, this scheme has huge implications and we say that the people of Brighton and Hove need to understand the thinking behind it much better. We need confidence that it has been thought through and to know the business case is sound. We need to be able to challenge it if we feel it isn't. Consultation is long overdue on the basics which underpin such sweeping change. We need this long before any proposals are put to the Planning Committee.
Come and have your say
The committee has done its best to consider carefully and in detail the little we are able to find out about this proposal and has published a position statement. This issue is a priority for us. We will be seeking publicity for our concerns in the coming weeks and months, and a future discussion forum will focus on it.
We are asking for:
The Regency Society is calling on Brighton and Hove City Council to publicise their business case for this scheme. We can then consider the pros and cons of it on the basis of full information. We're also calling on the Council to consult the people of Brighton and Hove about it. The Council owns the land at Black Rock, so we'd also like the Government to safeguard any potential conflict of interest for the Planning Committee.
Illustrations: Top: Black Rock site. Above: Churchill Square and the Brighton Centre