A three-day family festival celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day in May next year will launch a new major attraction for the coast - Skegness Showground.
East Lindsey District Council planners today (Thursday) approved a five-year trial for the Showground, which is set to become a top destination for a variety of big events throughout the
Russell Sparkes, the owner of the Grosvenor Hotel, plans to use 16 acres of formerly agricultural land on Burgh Road for the showground, with different layouts for events such as concerts and car shows, including camping and parking.
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?”
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 VE 75 Festival, incorporating a retro festival, will take place from May 8-May 10 2020 and feature flypasts, live big bands, military reenactments, vintage military and civilian vehicles,
scooters and motorcycles and stalls.
After the meeting Mr Sparkes said: "Since the loss of the Pier Field community space, a showground has been a much-needed facility in Skegness and I am delighted East Lindsey District Council is supporting the plans.
"We are excited to be celebrating its launch with the VE75 Festival, which will be an important date in the resort's year, and planning is already well-underway to make it an event to remember.
"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.”
Websites supporting events are due to go live on September 7. For more details and to book tickets, visit www.VE75festival.co.uk and www.skegnessshowground.co.uk