EASTBOURNE has kicked off 2017 by vowing to be one of the UK’s most desirable destinations within the next five years.

The town is looking forward to a first-rate international standard conference facility, restored theatres and a major upgrade of world-class tennis facilities at Devonshire Park.

Along with a new shopping centre extension, town leaders hope it will make Eastbourne a go-to venue for shopping, tourism and business.

Eastbourne and District Chamber of Commerce president Tim Cobb said the town was experiencing nothing short of a tourism and retail revolution that would mean its complete regeneration.

He said: “Eastbourne has always punched above its weight to compete for the tourism and retail pound but now there is a regeneration revolution that is sweeping through the town.”

Work on the £85 million Eastbourne Arndale extension moves a step closer this month with preparatory roadworks to divert services and create access to and from the construction site.

The next phase will be the demolition of buildings west of the centre along Terminus Road to flatten areas ready for building.

The 170,000sqft scheme will bring an additional 22 shops, some 300 extra car parking spaces, seven restaurants and a nine-screen cinema to Eastbourne.

Tim said: “National retailers have not always seen the benefits of trading in the town but now things are changing fast.

“Shoppers will soon be seeing the likes of Fat Face, Carluccio’s, Nando’s and Wagamama opening up here. This is jaw-dropping news and will not only encourage Eastbourne residents to shop local, it will entice visitors from our neighbouring towns and cities.”

Eastbourne Borough Council leader David Tutt said: “This Arndale extension is fantastic news for the future of our town.

“The development of our town centre has been a long held ambition.

“We will be seeing new shops, restaurants and a multiplex cinema.

“When linked to the Devonshire Park project and business park at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne is undergoing a transformation unparalleled in decades.”

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said: “This redevelopment will be a massive boost to Eastbourne’s economy.

“We look forward to a transformed Arndale shopping centre, one that will be a draw for visitors and a local amenity for residents.”