Black Rock Update July 2012

The Lastest News, as published by The Argus on July 6th, 2012.

International Arena plans for Brighton seafront are to be dropped – nearly a decade after they were first proposed.

Last month The Argus exclusively revealed that Brighton and Hove City Council was considering pulling out of a deal with Brighton International Arena for the derelict Black Rock site.Attached below is the recent Argus March 2012 Article on the Black Rock site which is located between the Conseravtion Area of the Estate’s lower slopes and the Marina at the end of Madeira Drive. Demolishing the Lido Swimming pool in the ’70’s has cast a long shadow on this derelict area owned by the Council. The Chairman adds his comment at the bottom of this item.

After the recession-affected developers dramatically scaled back the plans, the local authority has confirmed it will now look elsewhere.

Fresh ideas for the key site, both permanent and temporary, will now be invited for the land, currently behind graffiti-clad boards.

A decision will be taken at a town hall meeting on Thursday, July 12, after a cross-party project board reports its findings.

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “Various administrations have been trying for many years to help developers get this scheme started. I think we need to be realistic if we’re to put this site to a good use which benefits the city.”

The local authority first gave its backing to the arena plans in 2003 but a firm agreement was not made with developer David Pople until 2007.


A planning application has never been submitted.

Recent meetings between the council and the developers have seen revised plans submitted. But this has seen the original 10,000-seater arena scaled back to a 3,000 capacity and housing numbers up from 111 to 209.

The local authority will agree not to renew the exclusivity agreement when it expires at the end of this month.

Conservative Councillor Vanessa Brown said: “The Brighton Arena scheme as currently put forward has unfortunately changed beyond recognition from what was originally agreed by the council and so it is only right that others are given the chance to bring their ideas forward.”

Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: “Things have dragged on for too long and there is an opportunity now to get it right.”

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The Society keeps a close eye on Black Rock in the interest of the local community, most affected by any proposal or planning application on this site.

We remain adament that the primary objectives for its future use is to

1) Respect the Conservation imperatives of its immediate neighbour (the lower slopes and beach)

2) Respect that as this is on the sea front, its use should relate to this setting. An arena is neither suitable nor appropriate for this setting.

3) The Kemp Town Estate heritage area is its immediate neighbour to the north – and therefore no views into or out of the Estate should be obstructed by any development thereon

4) the site needs to be linked into the Marina, with the rail transport extended along to Black Rock and the Marina – to facilitate better access to both.





 It was billed as an £80 million development attracting two million visitors a year. But for nearly a decade, plans for the Brighton International Arena have remained little more than a pipe dream. Now the nine-year saga appears to have taken another twist as Brighton and Hove City Council looks likely to give developers another year to submit formal plans to develop the derelict Black Rock site near Brighton Marina.

Ice rink

Despite having no apparent history of bringing forward major multimillion pound schemes, those behind the plans for a 10,000-seater arena and separate indoor ice rink are confident they can meet the new cut-off date of July 2 City leaders, who dubbed it “Billy Bunter’s postal order” for being promised but not delivered, asked whether the local authority should be looking elsewhere.

David Pople, managing director of Brighton Arena Ltd, told The Argus: “You always have to be positive about these things. It’s a major project for Brighton and Hove and will bring big benefits.”

If built, the proposed indoor arena, double the capacity of current Brighton Centre, would host larger sporting and entertainment events. A separate indoor public ice rink, open all year round, would also be built as well as between 111 and 149 flats. A further 25,000sq ft of restaurant, bar, retail and other space will also be provided although this will be finalised if and when a planning application is submitted.

Job creation

Council papers say it will create between 400 and 450 jobs while bringing about £8 million a year into the local economy. The local authority adds space will be provided for the planned Rapid Transport Link despite there still being no firm proposal put forward for this. Town hall papers seen by The Argus show a lock-out deal, which gives Mr Pople’s firm exclusive development rights to the seafront site near Brighton Marina, will continue until the end of May.

It adds that new funders are on board who could become long-term partners in the scheme. The council is required to review the existing agreement and decide whether it will accept a 12-month extension by the end of July 2012. Council papers give a planned on-site start date of spring 2014.

Failed to deliver

Simon Fanshawe, chairman of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said: “For years now, we have called Black Rock Billy Bunter’s postal order, always promised but never delivered. “The question really is whether Mr Pople has not been able to develop as he does not have the funds or if it is just down to unforeseen circumstances. “I’m guessing the council believes the investment and intelligence they have gathered over the years is worth sticking with for another year. “But if they do not come forward maybe we should look for another provider.”

A council spokesman said: “If we didn’t get a planning application within the 12 months, the council would consider its options. “We’re doing everything practical to move all major projects on but as everyone knows, building and property development all over the country has been badly hit by the recession and raising money is very difficult. “That’s crucial because councils are given nothing like the money they would need to build things themselves and, typically, have to involve private sector partners.” Mr Pople said the arena plans had not changed much from when first put forward in 2003. However, he did say talks were ongoing with a variety of groups, including musical promoters, to discuss use of the non-allocated space, which could include creating a contemporary dance venue.

Arena plans

As for the general arena plans, he said: “We have been given a backstop date of July 2013 to get a planning application in as part of the development agreement. “I would like to think it could be submitted before then. “It’s been a long old process. We have had to relook at the scheme due to the current economic situation. “It has to work but the protocol of developing anything means that as we pass through the process we have to get the backing of the council.”

To help with this, a cross-party panel of city councillors will be set up next month.

Mr Pople said this “project board” was something he had been requesting as a link between the developers and the council officers guiding the proposal. Records from Companies House show Brighton Arena Ltd now has two directors – the Winchester-based Mr Pople and international figure skater Robin Cousins.

The multimillion pound scheme ground to a halt in 2008 when its funders Erinaceous, a property firm which owned Shoreham Airport, saw its shares price fall. Accounts from August 2010 show the Brighton Arena Ltd had liabilities of nearly £500,000. But The Argus can now reveal an agreement has been signed with Edinburgh-based Miller Developments to provide initial funding which could turn into a long term agreement.

The Argus contacted the firm but did not get a response. Its website shows recent involvement in major schemes in Islington, Scotland and the Warrington-based Omega project, which is the one of the largest development projects in Britain.

When asked about Miller Developments, Mr Pople said he was not willing to comment about any financial partners.”

The Society has grave concerns about the cosey relationship which has again arisen between the Brighton International Arena Company (BIA) and Brighton Council. When has any company seeking to gain planning permission for a site managed to gain a lock-out agreement from other contenders without some sort of payment, lasting years. What is it? If there is none, then why has the Council granted this exclusivity? The Council seem blinded by the idea of an alternative arena, come hell or high water, whatever the consequences. Job creation from building it is not one of them. What they should be doing is placing a public notice into the national press inviting another competition for the site. Presumably, they would outline the specifications for this, which would include that the project has to meet the Sustainability requirements as set out by the Major Project Team in 2004 (See below). It does stipulate Heritage and  Conservation. Will this matter when seeking a Stadium?

A building which is inward looking, set in an area which calls for an outward looking buildings, is incongruous!  In the unlikely event the BIA’s ability to fund this project were realised, the funds to design an Arena to suit its remarkable position overlooking the sea and conservation area beach and the Kemp Town Lower Slopes will not materialise. There will be no funds to invest a moment’s thought to attract those seeking to benefit from its magnificent nautral and built surroundings?

The site is not suited for such a major public arena, with access cut off on three sides, hosting upto 11,000 people at a time. It is blindingly obvious. A funder can assess this from miles away! If BHCC, as land owner, spent some money having a consultant write them a full analysis of the site and its suitability and a further report on the effects of this proposal with respect to its long-term impact, it would save alot of valuable hours of their time and halt what can only be described as false expectations. The BIA should consider paying for this, from an independent consultancy, selected from international firms knowledgeable of such endeavours for it to have any claim whatsoever on this site. The Council, if wisdom were to be applied, would hire their own independent consultant to see what development options might be suitable in this area. Then there would be no need for a “project board” until such information was tabled for public scrutiny.

 BHCC Website refers to the following.

Sustainability Commission run by the Major Projects Team, formed in 2004.


These covered the major areas in the City for redevelopment including;


Black Rock


z Development brief: “to provide an economically and

environmentally sustainable development” is one of the

three development objectives

z Sustainability Team part of Evaluation

z Highest priority weighting on evaluation criteria

z Part of Officer Steering Group influencing design


z Three areas of conservation – Built heritage, nature

conservation and geological


z Key Players





z Key Tools include –

yEnvironmental Management Systems (ISO 14001) EMAS, BREEAM,

Legislation, best practice, lessons learnt (application of experience),

other projects/research

z Key Issues include

yContractual control – involvement of client in design development

yReduce potential of sustainable elements falling foul of value


yCompliance to Development Brief

yMaterials selection

yAnticipation of decommissioning


It seems, the development brief is not reflected in the proposed plans. Neither is it adequate for the site.

The view expressed above is that of the Chairman of the Society and does not necessarily reflect those of Society Members”

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