LETTER: Idea is an ideal flagship project

The Southern Gateway will fail.

Some eminent Chichester citizens arranged a meeting with one of the top Master Planners in the UK, Geoff Thorpe, who lives near Arundel and has studied the Southern Gateway.

He has some important and expert views.

He said in his experience that regeneration projects such as the current Southern Gateway fail as they have no flagship project or central focus.

He said the CDC Master Plan was more about road schemes rather than defining what could be done with this new quarter of the city.

He sees no technical reason why the level crossing issue can’t be dealt with.

He considered the idea of a conference and exhibition centre as an ideal flagship project the whole community could support.

Even David Lock Associates, CDC’s consultants, had thought it a good idea but not in this location as it was not in their plans.

Can you think of a better location than next to the railway station also preserving the locally listed bus depot, a very early large concrete structure of some merit.

There are many people in Chichester supporting the idea of a conference and exhibition for regenerating the Southern Gateway by giving a new visitor destination and a whole series of support businesses, designers, stand builders, event organisers with good high paid jobs.

Visitors will stay longer than just a daily visit providing good business for all our businesses, hotels, shops and restaurants.

During my own career, I organised many conferences and exhibitions including starting a major trade exhibition called SOLEX from scratch.

Chichester is ideally placed and suited for a conference, exhibition and performance centre.

The Brighton Centre is under review and it leaves only Bournemouth of the coastal conference centres.

Matthew Lambert, of Maelstrom Events, who have organised hundreds of conferences and exhibitions said: “5000sqm of exhibition space plus conference centre/hotel in a location such as Chichester could would be an ideal venue on the association circuit (Bournemouth, Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool, Harrogate, et al.).

You would probably also be able to service some smaller shows – however, travel distance would need to be factored in.

Conference led events would be better as people normally attend for 2/3 days so distance is not so much of a factor.”

Many of us feel the Southern Gateway with a flagship of an exciting architect designed conference centre could provide the Vision for Chichester it needs compared to the mediocrity of the current Master Plan.

If you feel the same please let your views be known to the Observer.