Conference centres should support local communities

Global conference centres should play a greater role in supporting their local communities, says a leading figure in the international property industry. Speaking at last month’s AIPC general assembly in Edinburgh, David Bucknall, chairman of consultancy firm Bucknall Austin – which acted as consultant for the building of Birmingham ICC – stressed that a fresh approach should be adopted for the good of local neighbourhoods. "Convention centres can play a key role in the regeneration of local areas by attracting new business to the region and encouraging community groups to make use of the facilities," he said. Bucknall, who was one of three speakers at a panel discussion entitled ‘Design- ing and Equipping the Congress Centre of the Future’, added: "By embracing innovative design ideas and placing an emphasis on the provision of multi-purpose services, we can create vibrant meeting spaces that can become landmark buildings in their own right." HR/TQM facilitator at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre Geoff Fenlon, who attended the debate, agreed with the thrust of Bucknall’s argument. "Centres like ours can be key economic catalysts in communities," he said. "Since opening in 1995, we’ve created 640 new jobs and take our local responsibilities seriously." Project consultant at NEC Worldwide Trevor McCartney was another of those in attendance. He said: "I think the community concept is sound. It’s better to have multi-use facilities to keep centres active. Birmingham ICC is a landmark and already performs a similar role."

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