A PERMANENT exhibition centre, attracting thousands of visitors a year, is set to be opened on the site of Farnborough's International Air Show.

Talks are already underway to stage a classic car auction and trade exhibitions at the centre, which is expected to give the area a massive economic boost.

Hospitality events and conferences are also certain to be held there - but it is unlikely that pop concerts will be on the calendar of events.

The proposed centre is a joint project between the SBAC, the air show organisers, and De Boer Structures who supply the exhibition halls for the biennial event.

Details of the project - called SPACE - were unveiled at a press conference last Friday.

Amanda Stainer, SBAC's exhibition head, said: "We have shown that the airfield is capable of being the focus of world-wide attention for one week every two years.

"We are now simply looking to maximise its potential as a high-profile venue all year round."

Initially clients will be offered the use of one of the four main exhibition halls built for the air show, but additional structures will be added if the demand is there.

Jeremy Perkins, De Boer special projects director, said the venture was expected to add to the pent up demand for hotel beds in the area.

"Several hotel groups have already expressed an interest in servicing that requirement," he said.

Job opportunities would grow as the exhibition centre became established, he added.

Andrew Lloyd, Rushmoor Council chief executive, described the scheme, which will require planning permission, as "very exciting".

He said: "The council has long supported the concept of the site being used on a regular basis.

"What is being proposed has the potential to bring huge benefits to the local community."