MORE than a decade of uncertainty surrounding the future of the King Alfred leisure complex will begin to clear this summer.

A formal planning application and public consultation could be under way as early as May or June, according to Rob Starr, head of the Starr Trust which is partnering with developer Crest Nicholson on the scheme in Hove.

The news comes after Wish ward Councillor Robert Nemeth stepped up his attacks on the delays to the project.

At budget council last month the councillor used his speech to highlight the loss of potential income due to what he called delays to the project.

And at Thursday’s tourism committee meeting he has tabled a question for tourism chief Councillor Alan Robins, saying: “Will the chairman explain who will be filling the gap in council tax and business rates of approximately £1 million per annum that we are left with following delays to the development of the King Alfred site?”

Yesterday Cllr Nemeth told The Argus: “Residents are fed up with the delays and the let-downs, I’m not sure that they will put up with what are essentially tax breaks too.

“The delays leave us with a £1 million hole in the budget every year which could be spent on important services such as helping the homeless.

“This missing cash would go a long way.

“I want to know who will be plugging the gap. Will it be Crest Nicholson or will it be the taxpayers of Brighton and Hove?

“A three-year delay wastes £3 million. Perhaps an invoice should be sent to Crest Nicholson for this amount plus interest.”

Mr Starr replied: “That’s utter nonsense and Robert Nemeth should know better.

“He knows how long these major projects take and it doesn’t serve any purpose stirring up trouble like that.

“Where we are is, we got the central Government funding that we needed, which shows local council support and Government support for the bid that was won.

“The developers’ agreement – which is the next major step – is now in hand and we’d expect that to be completed by May at the latest.

“And then we go into public consultation and planning.”

He warned not to expect each stage of the project to be short.

“That’s going to take 12 months because we have to be open to the public and it’s quite right that people should have their say.

“And then, we get on with the job, it’s as simple as that.

“These things take time, but the time we spend now will be time we save later when we’re on site when we don’t have planning problems or money problems.

“These things take time.

“Anything that’s worthwhile doing has to be done properly with strong foundations.”

Crest Nicholson and The Starr Trust were chosen as the winning bid for the project in January 2016.

Building work was scheduled to start in October 2017 so the £40 million leisure centre could open at the end of 2019.

But public consultation –originally scheduled for last summer – has not started and recent council documents shunted the completion date back from 2022 to 2028.