THE biggest development in the history of the city council is finally set to be signed in the next few weeks, The Argus can reveal.

Outgoing council leader Warren Morgan said he was “really hopeful” the deal – to demolish the Brighton Centre, extend Churchill Square and build a new modern conference centre at Black Rock – will be signed before he leaves office next month.

He said Brighton and Hove City Council was “very close” to signing the deal with Standard Life Investments (SLI), which owns Churchill Square.

Cllr Morgan said: “In the Sixties the council built the original Churchill Square, in the Nineties they knocked that down and redid it

“In the Seventies they built the Brighton Centre to draw in conferences and concerts, to take us away from just the seaside tourism offer that we had.

“These two things have been what successive councils over 50 years have used to regenerate the city’s economy.

“And those things, we are attempting to do in one. It’s a half a billion pound project, it is an immensely complex deal.

“Even if we’d signed it off two years ago, we wouldn’t have broken ground yet. It is something that’s going to happen over the course of the next decade, probably longer.

“But I’m really hopeful that before I leave office we will have the agreement signed that will say it will go ahead.

“We are very close to concluding the deal with Standard Life.

“It is probably the last thing I’m going to promise, but I’m hopeful it will be delivered under my watch.

“We’ve delivered on Preston Barracks, we’ve delivered on Circus Street, we’ve taken action on Madeira Terraces, I’m pretty proud of the major projects record I have but it would be the crowning achievement if I could get the signature on the dotted line.”

The £540 million plan involves the council selling its ownership of the Brighton Centre and Black Rock sites to SLI in return for SLI building a proposed 10,000 capacity conference centre. It has been under discussion for four years.

And broad plans for a new venue at Black Rock have been on the city’s agenda for two decades.

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove city council said legal and commercial negotiations were “ongoing and progressing well”.


AS LONG ago as 1993, the derelict Black Rock site was identified in the Brighton Seafront Development Strategy as a place for investors to come in with plans to “underpin the rejuvenation of the seafront”.

The deal Councillor Warren Morgan hopes to sign this month involves the council selling the Brighton Centre site to Standard Life Investments, which owns Churchill Square, and then using the money from the sale to fund a new venue at Black Rock.

Additional funds would come from rent, and additional business rates generated from an expanded Churchill Square.

Once the deal is done, a planning application will be submitted and at that point, the council has said, “consultation with communities, businesses and interest groups will also form a vital part of the project.”

The plan could create 2,000 jobs, boost spending by £150 million a year and generate £4.6 million in tax and rates.

A decision on the closure of the Brighton Centre would take place after Black Rock receives planning consent.

In February 2017 £12 million of government funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership was awarded to the project.

Architects WilkinsonEyre, which created the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, are drawing up plans for the 10,000-visitor conference cen