Conference Aston continues £5.4m redevelopment with CAMS opening

Conference Aston, Birmingham's biggest residential conference venue, has officially opened the new Conference Aston Meeting Suites (CAMS), completing the first phase of its £5.4m redevelopment.

Conference Aston director Lucy Talbot with Aston University vice-chancellor Dame Julia King
Conference Aston director Lucy Talbot with Aston University vice-chancellor Dame Julia King

The new meeting suites replace the Lakeside Conference Centre, which will close at the end of this month and is set to be demolished as part of the redevelopment of the Aston University campus, and provide a larger and more flexible venue for conferences, meetings and exhibitions.

Lucy Talbot, director at Conference Aston, said: "With the impending redevelopment of the Lakeside Centre, it was crucial that we were able to offer our clients a new, higher quality conference venue, befitting of the city’s reputation as a leading destination for business tourism.

"If anything, the new space has allowed us to improve on what we can offer and this has been reflected by the bookings we already have from the likes of Birmingham City Council, NHS and Sustainability West Midlands."

CAMS is comprised of two large rooms that can be broken down into up to eight individual meeting rooms. The largest room can fit 274 delegates in theatre format, while the other room can fit up to 160 delegates; the maximum capacity across both rooms is in excess of 550 delegates (depending on configuration).

By comparison, the Lakeside Conference Centre had three rooms that could be broken down into various configurations, although the maximum capacity was only 440 delegates (200 in the largest room and 120 in each of the smaller rooms).

An added advantage to the new venue when it comes to hosting exhibitions is direct access to an underground loading bay. "CAMS is larger and more flexible and has better accessibility for setting up exhibitions [than Lakeside] - it has access to an underground bay and loading lift with direct access to the suites," said marketing and communications manager Paul Bunce.

The next phase of the redevelopment, which is expected to run until mid-2015, will include an upgrade to the conference centre and hotel within Aston Business School, which currently has 163 bedrooms, 20 meeting rooms and capacity for 235 delegates.

Details of the redevelopment are not set to be finalised until next Spring, but it is expected to include an increase in the number of bedrooms to more than 200 and an additional 15-20 meeting spaces, as well as an increase in the maximum capacity.

CAMS was officially opened on 7 November by vice-chancellor of Aston University, professor Dame Julia King, and hosted its first event the following day when Marketing Birmingham held the Meet Birmingham Showcase, which was attended by around 70 delegates.

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