It escaped demolition and redevelopment as sky high towers with flying sheets of screaming colours over a lower level sports centre, when implementation of planning consent was blocked at the very start of the global financial meltdown. The Karis finance from ING bankers was withdrawn. Frank Gehry withdrew from involvement. All in 2007.
The 2007 local election punished the Labour Party for its King Alfred “landmark architecture” adventure; and a minority Conservative Administration replaced it. Years and years of deliberate maintenance neglect (in anticipation of demolition and redevelopment) had to be addressed and a programme of repairs was implemented by the incoming Conservatives. The depth of the global financial collapse would prevent any scheme becoming buildable any time soon on that site. And the Centre had to be put in a state that would enable it to be useable and safe. Something like £1.5 million had to be spent to do the necessary.
The day to day management and running of the King Alfred was subsequently transferred from BHCC management to the firm that manages all the other council-owned leisure facilities and so it limps on – complete with reports in 2013 of a thriving cockroach community making its presence felt.
The recession and reduced Central Govt Grant to the local authority is forcing BHCC to downsize – to give up office space and sell off properties and this is going to have to continue during the present Green Administration, elected in 2011. The defeat of its planned 3.5% increase in council tax by the Labour and Conservative opposition parties and imposition of a 2nd year or more of a freeze in council tax meant using Council Reserves in 2012/13 that were earmarked for 2013/14, we were told.
What else can BHCC sell? King Alfred may come up for consideration if a buyer seems possible. It haemorrages money. The Council has no blood bank of money to keep pouring into it.
A survey of the property has been done; there is a scheme for a temporary skating rink on the site which is still on the drawing board and still being talked about with enthusiasm. But they just keep on making the pitch and no costed, designed scheme with documentation for a planning application has by May 2013 been forthcoming. And to get Policy and Resources to agree to a temporary use of the site until wider redevelopment is possible, a fully worked up scheme would need to be shown to them.
CONTRAINTS AND DEMANDS FOR ANY DEVELOPER LOOKING TO REDEVELOP AT KING ALFRED: To understand the constraints imposed on ANY developer concerning redevelopment of King Alfred, it is important to look at the Local Plan Policy SR24 here and Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPGBH 10) here . Nobody can presently develop at King Alfred without fitting in with these. This COULD be changed for the City Plan but it is currently intended that this policy will be retained.
UPDATE: 24th May, 2013 saw a public meeting being held at Hove Town Hall in the main Chamber, with 150 seats having been put out downstairs and seating in the upper gallery for another 30 or so being available plus a small amount of standing room only. The meeting was arranged and Chaired by Hove MP, Mike Weatherley and gave examples of leisure centre builds elsewhere from 3 different local authorities as well as presentations from four declared developer interest groups (see photo story for details).
UPDATE: At Cabinet on 19th April, 2012, Cllr Geoffrey Bowden announced the setting up of a Project Board within the Council to begin to frame a way forward – presumably because either a sale of the site or interest from developers means it is again possible to address redevelopment of the site.