COUNCILLORS in Dundee are set to approve plans to spend almost £1 million on the first phase of proposed upgrades to the conference facilities at the city’s iconic Caird Hall.
The aim is to attract more conference delegates to the city centre venue on the back of the £1 billion waterfront development and the opening of the new V & A Museum on the banks of the Tay.
In the first phase of the redevelopment more than £900,000 will be spent on improvements to the ground and first floors at the rear of the complex to create “breakout facilities” and temporary administration offices for conference organisers.
Ken Guild, convener of Dundee City Council’s policy and resources committee, said: “We have been aware for some time that, to bring back the level of major conferences it once enjoyed, the Caird Hall needs to compete with modern purpose built facilities in other cities.
“To do that will mean the creation of additional breakout facilities, a dedicated exhibition hall, additional catering and hospitality and dedicated offices for conference organisers.”
He continued: “We have an opportunity to make a start on this upgrade because of the space offered by the former housing department offices in Shore Terrace with the rest coming along as and when finances and other circumstances allow.”
‘Substantial visitor growth’
Mike Galloway, the council’s Director of City Development, states in a report to next week’s meeting of the policy and resources committee: “The Dundee Waterfront Regeneration and the V&A at Dundee project will significantly increase our attractiveness to potential visitors. As such it is expected that the number of visitors will grow substantially with the opening of such an international cultural asset within the city.
“It is, however, important that the city does not merely focus on leisure tourism, but also takes advantage of the opportunities for increased business tourism through attracting additional conferences and other business events to Dundee.”
He continues: “The main conference facility in the city is the Caird Hall and, while it is still a popular and attractive venue for business events, it does not have all of the amenities of a modern, purpose built conference centre and does not attract the level of major conferences which it once used to.
Mr Galloway adds: “The first phase would see the creation of a series of new meeting rooms and offices on the ground and first floor of the Shore Terrace building. These rooms would be directly accessible from the Caird Hall by internal stairs and lift and would provide additional ‘breakout’ facilities and temporary administrative offices for conference organisers. This work can be carried out this financial year due to additional capital resources having been made available by the Scottish Government.
“A second phase of works could then be brought forward at a later date which sought to provide a dedicated Exhibition Hall. This would clearly be dependent on the outcome of a review of all of the available space within the Caird Hall complex.”