January 9th, 2012
Cabinet councillors last night agreed to move forward with far reaching proposals for the redevelopment of Devonshire Park. The decision means detailed business case assessments will be carried out on Option Two and Option Four of those drawn up by internationally renowned architects Marks Barfield.
In October Marks Barfield presented a number of options for Devonshire Park to a project board of key stakeholders.
The various concepts were designed to enhance the town’s conferencing offer, address the significant repairs and refurbishment required at the Congress Theatre and Winter Garden, resolve the unacceptable lack of disabled access within the Winter Garden and increase use of the park by the public outside of the summer months
Among the proposals being considered are:
Improved facilities for the international tennis tournament, including the possible relocation of centre court within Devonshire Park
New state of the art conference /exhibition hall to maintain year round business tourism and to attract more conferences
Cafes, restaurants, visitor and retail spaces
Better links with the seafront through greater pedestrianisation
Improvements to the Congress Theatre and Winter Garden
Good quality public spaces for people to spend quality time, with a sculpture trail from the town centre to and around Devonshire Park
Visitor attractions including play spaces, landscaping and a new iconic attraction within the park
Marks Barfield anticipate approximate capital costs of between £30 and £43 million for each scheme, with Option Four being the most expensive.
Leader of the Council, Councillor David Tutt, said:
“We now have two options that will be subject to further analysis to establish the long term benefits and viability. We are committed to demonstrating there is a sound business case with a financial return on any future investment that makes the most of the assets of Devonshire Park.”
Leader of the Opposition Group and member of the project board, Councillor David Elkin, said:
“The project board were very impressed by the work carried out by Marks Barfield and welcomed their radical vision of how Devonshire Park might be transformed. We remain at an early stage in the process but optimistic that we will soon have a robust business case to take forward. Above all, both parties agree that the front of the Congress Theatre must be treated as a top priority.”