Councillors asked to support Royal Pavilion Estate plan to complete works 

Work to complete the restoration of Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre could start within the next two weeks.

The council is currently finalising the appointment of an interim contractor to carry out emergency work to the historic buildings, after the main contractor ceased trading. The work includes carrying out essential weatherproofing and drainage works to protect the historic Grade I and Grade II listed buildings.

Moving forward

At a meeting next week (10 October), councillors on the Policy and Resources Committee are being asked to agree a plan to procure and appoint a main contractor after the previous contractor, R Durtnell & Sons, ceased trading in July, entering into a Company Voluntary Arrangement with its creditors.

Since then, the council has secured the site, installed 24 hour security, and the project’s design team, led by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, has carried out extensive surveys to establish the remaining work needed.

Key cultural destination

The major refurbishment of the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre is the first phase of a wider project to re-affirm Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate as a key cultural destination by equipping it for a sustainable future. The longer-term vision aims to reunite the historic Estate created by George IV in the early 19th century to create a centre for heritage, culture and the performing arts which reflects the unique spirit of Brighton. It is anticipated that the revitalised Royal Pavilion Estate will support 1,241 FTE jobs and have an economic impact of £68m.

Councillor Alan Robins chair of the Tourism Economic Development, Culture and Communities Committee said: “We are committed to completing the refurbishment of these unique buildings to protect their long-term future in the cultural heart of the city.

“Our priority is to reduce any future delays, bring the buildings back into use as soon as possible and mitigate the financial impact on both the council and Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival.”

Restoration work

Completed restoration work so far includes:

  • The 200-year old Corn Exchange roof has been strengthened and stripped back to reveal the original widest span timber frame building in the country, formerly used as the Prince Regent’s riding house.
  • The unique Corn Exchange windows have been restored with approximately 185 panes of glass replaced in each of the 11 large windows.
  • Essential repairs to the 1930s art deco statue of Ceres above the Corn Exchange entrance.

The redevelopment will improve venue access for visitors, staff and performers, including new accessible toilets, hearing assistance systems and a public lift providing wheelchair access to all levels of the buildings. A new Creative Space will be available for community groups and emerging artists to use for workshops, meetings and rehearsals.

Funding support

£19.13 million of the total project costs has been raised from grant funding from the National Lottery Heritage, Arts Council England, Coast to Capital Local Growth Fund, private trusts, individual donations and contributions from Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival’s own resources.

The Build Brighton Dome community appeal has raised over £130,000 from public donations with match funding of every £1 by The Roddick Foundation. The additional council funding through borrowing of £5 million would bring the council’s overall contribution to the project to £9.3 million – 32.8% of the total costs. 

Councillor Robins added: “Completion of this project will protect and secure the future of this unique estate in the heart of the city so it continues to be a world class destination for residents and visitors.”

More information

Read the reports for the Policy & Resources Committee. The Royal Pavilion Estate Capital Project Phase 1 report is agenda item number 58. The committee will be in Hove Town Hall council chamber from 4pm, is open to the public and webcast.