Following enquiries from some members about the current state of Black Rock and correspondence about it with our 3 local councillors, we were grateful to Bridget Fishleigh for setting up a site meeting recently with Katherine Pearce, the council’s project manager heading up the Waterfront Project, Laura Marshall, a planning consultant, Jane Chetwynd Appleton, Chair of Black Rock Residents, and Simon Smith, KTS Chairman.
The first thing we learnt was that the new conference centre/events stadium is at least five years away. The council has signed an agreement with Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) with the latter now exploring options for their Churchill Square site. The uncertainty of the future of retail trade would seem to make this a precarious time for any company to expand Churchill Square southwards into the space currently occupied by the Brighton Conference Centre, and so there are no immediate plans to progress with the venue at Black Rock.
In the meantime the Black Rock site remains an eyesore. Accordingly, the council has resolved to continue with plans to spend some £12m on an ‘enabling package’. This means it will be making the land safe, or ‘de-risking’ it before future development at the same time as improving access to it.
- Decontamination and excavation of the Black Rock Lido (some 50 years after it ceased to be used);
- Moving utilities on the the site;
- Moving and strengthening the existing brick sea wall and providing new pedestrian access;
- Creating an open gravel-covered event/sports space 9yet to be fully determined) without any hoarding;
- Making provision for a new public transport route to the Marina;
- Creating a new boardwalk from the eastern Volks terminus to the site;
- Improving the state of the Reading Room for possible commercial use.
Work is due to start in March 2020 and be completed a year later.
The council will produce a fact sheet outlining the development shortly. Information sessions for residents will be held in November, dates tba.