Top Conservative donor co-finances Hastings' Owens 'fun factory'

A former investment banker is co-financing Hastings’ new family ‘fun factory’.

Lubov Chernukhin is one of the biggest donors to the Conservative party and has donated more than £1.8m since 2012, as reported by the BBC.

Her husband, Vladimir, a former deputy minister of finance under Putin left Russia for the UK in 2004 after being sacked by the president, the BBC added. Both Mrs Chernukhin and her husband are now British citizens.

Owens, which officially opens today (Friday, November 11), occupies the former Debenhams site, and is a joint venture between Lubov Chernukhin and entertainment entrepreneur Graham Owen, the company announced.

Mrs Chernukhin said: “The closure of prominent high street chains like Debenhams causes decline in local communities like Hastings.

Repurposing these sites is a wonderful way to rejuvenate town centres, bringing life and business back into the communities. This has been an idea long in the making and I am immensely proud to bring to fruition projects that help to revive our high streets, create jobs for local people and grow local economies.”

Mr Owen said: “We wanted to do something different, something immersive and adventurous. The high street is facing a challenge to reinvent itself and Owens is keen to meet that challenge with our brand of magic and family fun. By bringing this Debenhams site back to life,

Owens has helped bring a new purpose and reason for the people of Hastings and surrounding areas to return to the high street.”

The company said the new attraction has created more than 100 full-time and part-time jobs so far.

The business said entire shop floors have been converted into ‘other-worldly escapes’, including a 1066 village, a smuggler’s cave, a wild west saloon and a foray into the vacuum of space.

Hastings mayor James Bacon said: “Thank you to Owens for providing our amazing town centre with an attraction which can be enjoyed by families and people of all ages, as well as provide another essential tourist venue. Mixing education with fun and culinary delights is a perfect

recipe for success and I wish Owens all the best in their local endeavours.”

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