Conference venues expand their functionality

Developers in the UK are increasingly opting for multi-functional venues which will help appeal to a wider client base, including both corporate and private customers.

With the UK, and indeed the entire global community, plunging into financial turmoil and the effects of last year's credit crunch reaching their height, developers and businesses are under more pressure than ever before to diversify their products and provide flexible service. This means investing in developments which can be used for a variety of functions, rather than restricting new projects such as London venues and Birmingham venues to single, specialised market sectors.

A new venue due to be built in Yarmouth presents such an opportunity for local authorities and developers. According to, the town hopes to host the only large casino on the east coast of the UK, but faces considerable challenges in the form of opposition to the project, as well as pressure to incorporate a multi-functional element which will help defend the development from recessionary fears while also stimulating and safeguarding the local economy.

The casino itself, while providing a leisure and entertainment venue in the town, is inherently controversial given the potential detrimental effects that gambling can provoke, especially within less affluent communities. The citizens' advice bureau in Yarmouth has stressed that the protection of vulnerable individuals must be a key concern if the project is to proceed.

Business and conference facilities are being viewed as the best way to expand functionality in the town. Authorities plan to appeal directly to the needs of both local and national businesses through the provision of state-of-the-art resources to rival conference venues around the UK. It is intended that the development will provide an added revenue stream and an appropriate consumer base for the project's casino.

Graham Plant, council cabinet member for regeneration in Yarmouth, told "We are not looking purely for a casino, but a development that would include leisure facilities, including a conference centre and hotels. This is an opportunity to create jobs in the borough and change Yarmouth from a seasonal town to an all-year round one."

Economic stimulus is a major issue in the current climate, especially in towns and cities lacking the profile of their market competitors. As a seaside town, Yarmouth is a traditional British summer holiday location, but there is potential to be much more than that. The right focus should enable local businesses to benefit from revenue streams that remain steady throughout the year, rather than relying on seasonal peaks. Successful conference centres benefit local economies as they deliver demand for accommodation, restaurants and social venues that is not reliant on the month of the year to the same extent as traditional elements of coastal British tourism.

Meanwhile, reports that a plan is being initiated by local authorities to tackle economic problems in the east of England. Unsuitable infrastructure, a sliding economy and environmental concerns such as coastal erosion are to be discussed at a conference comprising a range of businesses and local authorities in the region.

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