Devonshire Park plan moves ahead with new contractors

A trio of contractors have been appointed for the Devonshire Park development marking another step forward for the £35million pound project.

The firm Faithful+Gould has been chosen to project manage the restoration of the Congress Theatre facade which involves installing specialist glazing and replacing window frames at the Grade II (star) listed venue.

The contractor is working with English Heritage to ensure that significant repairs needed to the façade are in keeping with the original 1963 style, and that existing support columns will remain and be protected.

Work is due to start in August and will be completed in spring 2015. The theatre will remain open while the repairs are carried out.

Richard Stocking, principal conservation surveyor and lead consultant at Faithful+Gould, said:

“This project is all about tackling the urgent repairs needed to the facade of this modernist theatre and retaining the building’s original aesthetics while also improving the internal environment of the foyer so that it is warmer in winter and cooler in summer.”

Previous projects involving Faithful+Gould include the University of Leicester’s David Wilson Library and the William Morris Gallery in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Meanwhile, Focus has been appointed project manager for the broader Devonshire Park masterplan to transform it into a thriving cultural destination.

The Focus team will manage the next stage of the design and business planning which incorporates the upgrading and layout of tennis courts.

They will manage the project through to completion, overseeing the restoration of the listed buildings including the next stage of the Congress Theatre improvements and any new buildings needed to attract conferences and exhibitions, as well as new public realm in front of the Congress.

The detailed designs for the entire redevelopment, costing between £30million and £35million, will be finalised by March 2015 with work expected to begin in 2017.

Eleanor Clarke, senior consultant at Focus, said:

“It’s a key project that is scheduled to create a range of benefits for the town and for the area, and we are very pleased to be part of the team that will bring this scheme to reality.”

Since its creation in 1994, Focus has delivered more than £1billion worth of projects and programmes, and has worked on a range of high-profile projects in the arts, heritage and tourism sector.

Eastbourne Borough Council has also recently taken on Purcell, a firm of expert conservation architects, to ensure a complete understanding of the significance and uniqueness of the wider heritage of the area and ensure it is preserved in respect to the forthcoming development.

Conservation schemes Purcell has worked on include the refurbishment of Canterbury Cathedral, Knole House in Kent and the British Museum.

Leader of the council, Councillor David Tutt, said:

“I’m delighted our masterplan for a new, vibrant Devonshire Park has taken another step forward. It is an extremely exciting project which will make Eastbourne an even more attractive place to live and visit for many years to come.”

Leader of the opposition, Councillor David Elkin, said:

“The Devonshire Park project is an amazing opportunity to restore the theatre area of Eastbourne to its former glory, and truly enhance the level of offer available to both residents and visitors to our town. I look forward with great anticipation to its completion.”