Regular readers of this column will know of my affection for our seafront and my belief that it is a key part of our economy and what makes Brighton and Hove the great place it is.
One of our prime locations is the Aquarium Terraces opposite the Palace Pier at the gateway to Madeira Drive, home to the Sea Life Centre, but somewhere that has fallen derelict in recent years.
Following discussions with Brighton Seafront Regeneration Limited and Soho House, I’m pleased to say that contractors are now on site to begin work on clearing the disused buildings and creating new restaurants and facilities there.
Part of it will be an arts club open to members, whilst much of the site will be public. When it is completed next year it will remove the current eyesore, create many new jobs and deliver much-needed business rate income for the city council which we will spend on essential services.
With the pier going from strength to strength, the zip wire proving popular, the new Sea Lanes swimming pool on the way, work on restoring the Madeira Terraces due to begin in the summer. With Yellowave and Concorde 2 thriving, Volks Railway restored and progress towards a new Brighton Centre at Black Rock, the future for our eastern seafront looks bright.
Meanwhile in Hove we await news next month on Government funding that will finally get the new King Alfred leisure complex underway. The new Shelter Hall is progressing well, and plans are in place to continue strengthening and restoration work along our central seafront.
News that visitor numbers to the city went up by six per cent last year show a renewed confidence in our tourist, retail and leisure offer that we must continue to work on. With the new Hanningtons Lane being built, eight more restaurants coming to the city, and the proposed new Churchill Square extending to the seafront, our place as a premier shopping destination seems secure.
As I wrote last week, we need to bring in new investment and constantly refresh our offer, whilst preserving and promoting both our built heritage and the essence of what makes Brighton and Hove a place where we love to live and that people want to visit.
Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.