UK - 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 CMW 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 CMW 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 CMW the group was yet to appoint a successor as GM at the ICC to Geoff Fenlon who left last month.
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