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Eastleigh backs the Rose Bowl

September 27, 2009 6:00 PM
Proposed new Rose Bowl

Proposed new Rose Bowl

Ambitious plans at the Rose Bowl have won the backing of Eastleigh Borough Council. The plans for a hotel, golf course and bigger stands will create 200 jobs, pump £20,000,000 into the local economy every year and bring Test Cricket to our Borough.

Local Borough Councillor David Goodall says, "The arrangement will see the Council borrowing to fund the hotel, which it will own. This is an investment to safeguard local services and a great boost the local economy. Amazingly, all the opposition Labour and Conservative Councilors at full council opposed the action to help tackle the recession head on."

The Borough Council's action was necessary after the banks refused to back the scheme, as a result someone had to step in to save the project. However such investment is only allow under Government rules if can be shown that the return on the Borough loan will repay the loan with interest.

The Borough Council will borrow money which it will then use to build the Hotel complex at the new Rose Bowl. The Council will then rent out the Hotel to the Hilton Hotel group who will run and manage the hotel.

So the Borough Council will not be in the hotel business that will be the Hilton Hotel group, but the Borough will be in the property and land ownership business. This is something which the Borough Council has always been in and will always continue to be in.

At the full council meeting on the 24th September Borough Council Leader Councillor House advised on the Council's recent action to ensure plans to transform the Rose Bowl into a world class sports and conference venue would go ahead. The Cabinet had agreed to fund the construction of a £30 million hotel and conference centre at The Rose Bowl after other major sources of funding proved impossible to secure in the required timescale. The hotel was part of an overall redevelopment costing £48 million, due for completion ahead of the Rose Bowl's historic first Test Match in 2011. The Rose Bowl is one of the South of England's most prestigious sporting venues and it is of major importance to the borough and its economy.

The Council's decision will guarantee the successful completion of the project transforming the ground and making the borough the home of the country's newest Test Match venue. More than 200 jobs will be created by the scheme which will have a total economic impact each year of up to £20 million in the local economy. Along with the 175-bedroom Hotel, the completed development will see the construction of new stands with covered seating and facilities for a further 5,000 spectators. This will increase permanent capacity to 15,000 while temporary seating would allow a 25,000 capacity.

The current nine-hole golf course will undergo a major redevelopment to become an 18-hole Championship course. The full scheme received planning consent in 2008 with the major building works due to be completed in September 2010.

Access to and egress from the venue would be further improved with the creation of a new entrance to the south of the site on to the A27. The Council's funding will have no impact on local tax payers as it is a commercial arrangement on commercial terms. The arrangement will see the Council borrowing to fund the hotel which it would own. Subject to formal agreement, the Hotel would be a core brand Hilton Hotel. The Rose Bowl would lease the hotel at a commercial rent. Lease terms had yet to be finalised but would include regular reviews and the option for the Rose Bowl to purchase the building.

Councillor House put on record his thanks to staff across the Council, and especially to Nick Tustian and Richard Ward, for the many hours of work gone into making the arrangement work.

The Council could be proud that, in the depths of recession, it had been prepared to act to secure jobs; to secure investment; and to secure world class sport for Eastleigh and South Hampshire.

In response to questions, Councillor House confirmed that other Councils were welcome to talk to the Borough Council about the approach taken with the Rose Bowl development, and that the matter had been considered fully by the Resources Scrutiny Panel. The arrangement posed an acceptable risk, was part of the Council's asset management strategy, met regeneration objectives and reflected the Council's Local Plan. Members would be kept up to date, particularly when each milestone had been achieved.