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25.01.19

Flagship £400m leisure centre development for Brighton and Hove council hangs in the balance over Brexit uncertainty

Brighton and Hove City Council has been told its flagship £400m leisure centre development project cannot go ahead because of the chaos caused by Brexit and the absence of a deal agreed by government.

Hours before councillors were due to vote on the final deal, the developers submitted a letter to the Brighton authority saying the development scheme was not currently feasible and that “greater clarity on the form and timing of Brexit” were needed.

The plans would see the council’s King Alfred site redeveloped, replacing the ageing leisure centre with improved, extended and modern sports facilities as part of a major mixed-use enabled development.

The company reaffirmed its commitment to the agreement and to delivering the project but at a policy, resources and growth committee meeting, the council unanimously voted to give Crest Nicholson an ultimatum after its leader said it was left with no choice.

The developers, who cited “certain scenarios” that could yet undermine the project’s feasibility, have been given a final deadline of 30 March to enter a development agreement, a day after Britain is due to leave the European Union.

The council’s leader Dan Yates said: “Whilst we recognise and have sympathy with the uncertainty that Brexit brings and how challenging this is for developers who are making investment decisions, we have to see progress on the delivery of a new leisure centre complex.

“The council - and the people of Brighton and Hove - must have serious and absolute commitment to this scheme.”

The council said it would still work towards completing the agreement by the end of January, after which it would work alongside Crest to conclude an agreement by the end of March, but would also consider other options.

The council’s Green Party group expressed their frustration at the news and criticised the council’s lack of preparation for Brexit.

Its spokesperson Phélim Mac Cafferty commented: “Now we’re beginning to see the real effect of Brexit on our city, and already it means developers are slamming the brakes on major development, critical housing projects are being put on ice, and new jobs and opportunities are being put on hold.”

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