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News - 21 July 2007

Bandstand presents opportunity for an entrepreneur

Work to restore Brighton’s crumbling seafront bandstand is under consideration by the City Council. The work could be under way next summer if all goes according to plan. And the plans include a business opportunity for an events organiser.

There has been much concern over the neglect for the historic landmark and it has often been compared to its counterpart in Eastbourne, which was recently restored and is now flourishing as a venue for dance and musical concerts.

A report to the council’s Policy & Resources Committee next Thursday (July 26) outlines a renovation timetable and funding. It follows a proposal from leading councillors that the authority should pay for the revamp itself because obtaining a Lottery grant would take too long and may not succeed.

It is estimated that the restoration of the listed building dating from1884 will cost around £850,000. Most of the money – about £640,000 - would come from a special fund for council priorities. Additional cash available includes £150,000 already reserved from seafront budgets, £20,000 from a vandalism insurance claim and £10,000 for maintenance to the area.

The council aims to recoup its investment by renting the bandstand to a business for up to £25,000 a year.

If councillors agree the financing and timescales, it is thought designs could be prepared by autumn, listed building consent secured by Christmas and work underway around early summer 2008.

Policy committee deputy chairman Councillor Mary Mears said, “Though so much has been spent on the rest of the seafront this bandstand remains the eyesore on the cake. We believe people see this as a priority and therefore we should use funding set aside for priorities.”

The council submitted a bid for Heritage Lottery funding of £550,000 in January. But the HLF said the earliest any application could be considered was September and success could not be guaranteed.

Councillor Mears added, “The HLF has been brilliant with other projects in the city. But a bid to them is a lengthy and uncertain process and each passing week the structure worsens. Using council funds gives the project absolute certainty and a predictable timescale.”

As well as housing a business it is thought the bandstand could stage events such as concerts or weddings.

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