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Performing arts centre proposal for Hove leisure site
5:20pm Thursday 23rd August 2012 in News
An entrepreneur has unveiled a multimillion pound scheme to redevelop a leisure centre.
Insurance company boss Rob Starr said he has a £150 million funding agreement with a major Sussex contactor to knock down the King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove and build a performing arts venue.
He said the proposed scheme would not compete with the Brighton Dome because it would be a purpose built community theatre, music and arts venue.
Mr Starr said the new venue would replace the structure with an art gallery and music studios for people to learn about music and for music therapy. He is planning two theatres with 200 seats and 500 seats, eight rehearsal rooms and two dance studios.
Meanwhile the Government has given the go ahead to a Christian free school which aims to move on to the site of the King Alfred .
Kings School Hove secondary school has been given Department for Education backing to open in September 2013.
The preferred option for the school’s backers is to build the school with shared leisure facilities on the site of the King Alfred.
Mr Starr said he was aware of the King’s School Hove plans for the King Alfred site but insisted they were inappropriate.
Mr Starr said: “I have agreed my funding with a major Sussex contractor and I am working with the well-known architects practice Haworth Tompkins.
“I go past the King Alfred every day and it is offensive in its current state. I have not ruled out Black Rock as a location if the King Alfred doesn’t happen. But at least Black Rock isn’t offending anyone. It’s ludicrous that King Alfred is not developed.
“Brighton Dome does not do what we want to do. We want to provide theatre, music, education and community events. That will be the core of what we do. They are just among the things the Dome does, not what its purpose is.
“I’m aware of the Kings School plans. They are lovely people. I’m not against education. But the site is not appropriate for a school of that size. This will be very much a part of the community.
“I will now set out my vision to the council and to the people in the city. I want to talk to everyone and get their views.”
Karen Lynch, chief executive of the Russell Education Trust, which is behind the plans for the school, said that there is room for both a leisure centre and school at the site.
She said: “We do not want the site to lose its leisure facilities, quite the reverse. We will be having a meeting with the city planners to put forward our ideas.”
A council spokesman said: “The council has set up a cross-party project board to progress options for the site and look at the wider picture of how to best provide a new sports centre.
“The makeup, aims and objectives of the board will be discussed at the Economic Development and Culture Committee meeting at Hove Town Hall, in Norton Road, on September 20 at 4pm.”
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