Benefits – Coastal West Sussex Economy
South Down Project and the Coastal West Sussex Economy – written by Scott Marshall, Marshall Regen Ltd.
The South Down Project is likely to be the largest brownfield regeneration scheme for the south coast and its long-term positive economic, social and cultural impact will benefit generations to come providing much needed homes, jobs, skills and training opportunities, new business and leisure accommodation and a vibrant cultural offer.
If delivered successfully, the scheme could:
- Bring in £1.3billion of inward investment to the area
- Provide up to 2,200 new homes
- Create over 1,500 construction jobs and an additional 4,400 employment opportunities for local people
In total it will provide an estimated £90million annually to the local economy and an economic impact of close to £1billion over ten years.
Local policy makers have published a series of background reports to inform economic development priorities in Greater Brighton and West Sussex. These are:
- GBEB Background Paper 1: Economy – Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners – May 2015
- GBEB Background Paper 2: Housing Market – Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners – May 2015
- GBEB Background Paper 3: Transport System – Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners – May 2015
- The West Sussex Infrastructure Study (draft) – AECOM – August 2015
- Coast to Capital Infrastructure Study (draft) – Arup – August 2015
- GBEB –Devolution Plan presented to Government Ministers January 2016
Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB) is a partnership between five local authorities – Adur, Brighton & Hove, Lewes, Mid-Sussex and Worthing with the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex, four further education colleges, three business partnerships, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and the South Downs National Park Authority.
The South Down Project lies within the Coastal West Sussex – still an underperforming part of the Coast to Capital economy. However, it may have the opportunity to build on the success of Brighton & Hove, in particular, if it can provide the housing, transport infrastructure and employment space required by residents and businesses alike.
Its skills base, its demographic profile and the structure of its economy mean that Coastal West Sussex is not yet able to develop a high value added economy and it is likely to continue to have to meet the challenges of an ageing population. Nevertheless, if it manages to attract higher skilled younger people out of other areas, including Brighton & Hove, and can retain or bring back its own higher skilled people, then the skills base of its resident population may increase over time, as a matter of course.
The South Down Project is one of a number of planned major developments in Coastal West Sussex, which could help to spread economic benefits more easily and create a “polycentric” approach to sub-regional economic growth, where the strengths of its constituent parts complement each other.
Transport infrastructure remains a clear constraint on growth, with the A27 being one of the least reliable trunk roads in England and the east-west rail service having too many stoppages to be competitive.
The growth in employment and more productive economic activity in urban centres seem to be clear patterns, not just locally. The concentration of people and businesses attracts and retains talent. However, it can also lead to capacity constraints within small geographical areas and unaffordable housing costs for young and potentially mobile workers.
Projected population increases will require a considerable uplift in the rate of house building, compared with historic trends, but there will also be a need for sufficient employment space in the right locations, including the South Down Project, to ensure that Coastal West Sussex develops a vibrant economy with good quality jobs. The resulting population growth has considerable infrastructure cost implications and there appears to be a clear gap in funding, which may be difficult to address through traditional means.
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