Sussex

Eastbourne plans £40m tennis and theatre improvements

New Welcome Building and plaza design Image copyright Eastbourne Borough Council
Image caption The design for Eastbourne's Devonshire Park area includes a new glass pavilion and plaza

Plans to improve facilities used for one of the world's most important grass court tennis tournaments are being drawn up by Eastbourne council.

A new show court for Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Club and better facilities for players are being proposed as part of a £40m regeneration scheme.

The plans also include a new plaza, glass pavilion and restoration of the interior of the Congress Theatre.

Council leader David Tutt, said its was a game-changer for Eastbourne.

"It will herald a new era for an area of the town that is fundamental to our long term prosperity and cultural well-being."

Image caption Devonshire Park club hosts the Aegon International Eastbourne Tournament the week before Wimbledon

The lawn tennis club, which hosts the Aegon International Eastbourne Tournament, sees many of the world's best tennis players arrive the week before Wimbledon.

Mr Tutt said the council hoped the Lawn Tennis Association might contribute to the funding of the scheme.

It would also look at possible heritage lottery and European funding.

A business case has been drawn up that suggests extra income from improved conference facilities would bring in an extra £1m of income a year.

The scheme also includes the reinstatement of original features and architecture at the Winter Gardens and repairs and improvements to Devonshire Park Theatre.

Councillors approved £1.4m to be spend on developing the scheme to a planning application on Wednesday night.

A separate £1.4m restoration of the grade II-listed 1960s facade of the Congress Theatre is also nearing completion.

The eight-month project was begun after a section of concrete fell from the front of the theatre.

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