Plans to create a world class conference centre and entertainment venue at Black Rock, next to Brighton Marina, have received a boost, with over £12 million of government funding being awarded to the project.
The money has come via the Local Enterprise Partnership and will make a significant contribution to the high costs of redeveloping a site which has been derelict for over 30 years.
The redevelopment is expected to include things like improving sea defences and clearing foundations from the former Black Rock Lido. The lido was closed in the mid eighties and has been derelict ever since, so the redevelopment of the space is much needed and very welcome among the local community For any of you wondering there’s a story of how Black Rock got its name – if coal was brought through the town they had to pay a tax on it. Black Rock at that time was out of town so the boats delivering the coal used to dump it just at this spot. In the thirties this lido opened and it was very, very popular. The actual site of the lido, although it was called Black Rock, was where the Volks Electric Railway Railway Station is and Volks Electric at one time ran from Black Rock right out to Rottingdean.
The Black Rock development is part of the city’s huge Waterfront regeneration project. This would see the current Brighton Centre demolished, along with the cinema complex next door. The site would be redeveloped, including extending Churchill Square shopping centre to the seafront and radically improving public spaces in the area. A replacement conference centre and 10,000 seat entertainments venue would be built at Black Rock. Council leader Warren Morgan says this latest £12 million is a step in the right direction:
“It’s a tremendous boost for the Waterfront project, specifically the Black Rock site, where we’re hoping to build a world class conference and entertainments venue. And it’ll put us back at the top of the table in terms of conference and entertainments venues across Britain. The next step is to conclude our deal with Standard Life Investments. It’s a half a billion pound deal that involves not just this site but the extension of Churchill Square shopping centre down to the seafront. And it’s the business rates from that extension to Churchill Square that will fund the borrowing to enable this project to be completed. By unlocking this site at Black Rock, which has been derelict since the 1970s, we can regenerate the whole eastern section of Brighton seafront, which means that the Madeira Terraces will be restored and revitalised. There will be jobs, business rates and a whole range of economic activity, which can only be a good thing for the city of Brighton & Hove.” – Warren Morgan
The Waterfront Project is at an early stage. This is a long term and large scale project. Brighton and Hove City Council have this to say about the project:
“The Waterfront Project would involve the council selling the site of the Brighton Centre to Standard Life Investments, owners of Churchill Square shopping centre. We would use the money from the sale to part-fund a new venue at Black Rock. The remaining funds we need for the new venue would come from rent paid by the operators and income from the project such as additional business rates generated from Churchill Square.
Churchill Square would be extended to the seafront. Significantly enhancing the city’s shopping offer. This is in line with our City Plan to be a regional shopping destination. Once the partners have reached a legal agreement the next stage would be to develop a scheme with professional architects and engineers. We anticipate that this work would take one to two years.
Partners will then prepare a planning application for the agreed final scheme. Our current estimate is that this would take place during 2019/2020. Consultation with communities, businesses and interest groups will also form a vital part of the project. The completed developments, worth an estimated £540 million, are expected to create 2,000 jobs and boost spending in the city by £150 million annually. They would earn an extra £4.6 million a year for the public purse – seen as crucial in an era of reductions to council funding.”
For any of you like me who are too young to know what Black Rock Lido, the now disused space by the Marina, used to look like then have a look at this picture below taken of the lido in the 1970s.