Two companies have been shortlisted in the search for a developer for the King Alfred Leisure Centre site on Hove seafront.
They are Bouygues Development and Crest Nicholson Regeneration. Crest Nicholson is working in partnership with the Starr Trust, a charity set up by Hove businessman Rob Starr.
The firms were selected from six applicants by a team of specialist officers from Brighton and Hove City Council, including the heads of planning and sport, advised by Deloitte Real Estate.
The decision was ratified by the cross-party King Alfred Project Board at its meeting last Friday (12 December).
The shortlisted bidders were chosen after a pre-qualification stage that considers their relevant experience and technical and professional capability.
Other factors included a track record of partnership working and community engagement.
The council is emphasising that the firms have not been required to submit any plans at this stage. They won’t be expected to do so until the next stage of the process.
The shortlisted companies will now be invited to work up “outline solutions” as part of a competitive dialogue process.
This includes drafting design proposals for the sports centre and the enabling development required to pay for it, including the size of such a development.
There would also be a review of any alternative sites that the developers might propose for the sports centre with the funding coming from an enabling development at the King Alfred site.
Bouygues Development focuses on working in partnership with local authorities and landowners to develop schemes that create a better environment for local communities.
It is part of the Bouygues Group, a global development and construction company that has already delivered major projects across Britain and the world. They have ranged from sports facilities to community amenities and entire new neighbourhoods.
Crest Nicholson is based in Chertsey, in Surrey, and much of its focus is on projects in the south.
The Starr Trust works with the local community to help young people fulfil their potential in sport, arts and education.
After a period of dialogue with the council, the bidders will be invited to submit final tenders next May.
It is hoped that this will lead to a preferred development partner being chosen by next September.
King Alfred Project Board chairman Councillor Geoffrey Bowden said: “I’m pleased we have two promising bidders who have undertaken high-quality projects of a similar scale.
“It’s early days and there are no plans to see yet. When we have more detail it will be very important that residents are properly consulted and their views met wherever possible.
“We also need to be realistic. This sports centre will be privately funded because councils these days have nothing like the required funds.
“That money will have to come largely from the proceeds of an enabling development.”
Project board member Councillor Andrew Wealls said: “I am delighted two bidders have been approved to go to the next stage of the process and very much look forward to selecting a development partner and engaging in public consultation at the soonest opportunity.”
Fellow board member Councillor Warren Morgan said: “It’s vitally important that we as a council replace the current King Alfred Leisure Centre with a new one that meets the needs of residents, is appropriate, affordable and can be delivered on time and in budget after proper and full consultation with residents.
“We are united in the desire to see that happen as soon as possible.”