NEC unveils plans for new conference centre

The
NEC Group hopes to have a new conference and banqueting centre open under its
management by the end of 2013, under new plans unveiled at the LG Arena, 11
April.

NEC
Group Chief Executive Paul Thandi showcased the plans, in conjunction with
Genting Casinos’ Resorts World, to develop land between the LG Arena and the
Crowne Plaza Hotel. Subject to planning permission and a ’large’ casino licence
from Solihull Council, the plan is for a seven storey, 55,000sqm Resorts World
complex, including a conference centre on its second floor.

NEC
Group Chief Operating Office John Hornby told CN that the new conference centre
would hold up to 1,000 for dinners and up to 600 delegates for a flat floor
conference. “It will link well with the planned hotel under one roof,” he said.

A
council decision is expected at the end of May 2011 after the local elections.

Thandi told
CN that the new complex would “landmark the group’s development”, under a
project worth £120m to Solihull.
“We
want to be the place people come to discover the future of 21st Century
entertainment,” said  Thandi. “The new entertainment complex project
will drive us back into the profile where we used to be: the No.1 destination
for exhibitions and conferences in Europe.”

Thandi
said casino operator Genting’s £120m investment followed £29m already spent on
the LG Arena and claimed the venue was now “the second most competitive arena
in the UK after The O2”.

The
casino planning permission and licence, Thandi noted, represented the third
stage of development and would enable The NEC to become a 24/365 destination.

Executive
Deputy Chairman of Genting Casinos, Peter Brooks, also addressed the press
conference and said the go-ahead would mean over a thousand new local jobs at
The NEC, and 1,700 in the construction phase.

“This
is the best such development scheme in the UK by far,” said Brooks, who noted
the Resorts World in Sentosa had been built in less than three years by
Genting. “There is no doubt about our firepower or ability to deliver,” he
stressed. He was careful not to take the permissions still needed for granted:
“Casino licensing is, after all, bedevilled by bureaucracy,” he said.

“We
are determined to add value to the complex and to the NEC offer,” he added,
noting the complex would include 300 extra parking spaces and a multi-screen
cinema in what will be Genting’s largest investment in Europe.

Thandi  said
the new conference and banqueting centre would be able to house awards and
banqueting style events that are exhibition-led and not just those led by the
International Convention Centre in the centre of Birmingham. A four or
five-star hotel and spa is also in the plans.

Hornby
also told CN the group was yet to appoint a successor as GM at the ICC to Geoff
Fenlon who left last month.

Do you
have a news story for CN? Email: pcolston@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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