Millions of pounds could be invested in tourism and events on the East Coast after a new showground in Skegness was given permission for a five-year trial run.
Councillors on East Lindsey District Council’s planning committee gave the go ahead to Russell Sparkes’ plans to use 16 acres of land on Burgh Road for a number of different events throughout the year.
Originally, councillors were only set to allow an initial two years’ investment due to concerns over the impact of noise on nearby residents and traffic on the A158.
However Mr Sparkes, who runs the Grosvenor Hotel, said that to set up the showground to begin with would cost him £500,000 – with potential costs of £100,000 per three-day event to follow.
He said his plans were based on a 10-year period and told councillors: “How can I and my fellow investors put that amount of money into a project which has a risk of a two-year term?”
The plans were described as being like Lincoln or Newark Showgrounds and would include a marquee with a stage and seating, as well as an event area for a number of stalls.
Mr Sparkes provided a series of different layouts for events including concerts and car shows.
Car parking and a camping ground are also planned and temporary traffic lights have been proposed just outside the showground on the A158 and at the entrance.
He was supported by East Lindsey District Council’s executive councillor for coastal visitor economy Steve Kirk, who said the attraction would help with the authority and its partners’ plans to extend the tourist season.
“If I was investing more than half-a-million pounds to start with, two-years is ridiculous,” he said.
Some councillors, including Sid Dennis had concerns over the impact and preferred the two-year trial period. He said: “If it works and everyone’s happy he can have a hundred years on it for me.”
However, others said more was needed. Councillor Billy Brookes said the short timescale was “setting it up to fail” while Councillor Dick Edginton worried it would “act as a disincentive for private investors”.
The five-year investment amendment to plans was approved on a vote of six-five, with one abstention.
Following the meeting Mr Sparkes said: “I’m sure we can make the showground work successfully and in-line with all the requirements to ensure the council will consider this a success and grant us a further investment in five years time.
“The benefits will be more tourism in and out the season, more jobs and a lot of opportunity for local businesses”
Councillor Kirk said: “The proposed showground will be a huge asset, not just for Skegness but for the whole of the coast.”
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