Benefits – Homes
How the South Down Project helps our housing market
The South Down Project could play a key part in the future economic growth of the Coastal West Sussex sub-region. It is simply one of the most exciting regeneration opportunities in the south-east, with the opportunity to bring 2,200 new homes to our region. So a site that is currently a deserted eye-sore, and in desperate need of revitalization, becomes a beautiful place to live, with over 2,000 new, hi-tech, apartments discreetly hidden in the South Downs National Park.
To our knowledge, none of the other suggested plans for the Shoreham Cement Works give the same huge housing gain to the local communities and region. And none of the other plans approach the housing problem with the same vision of highly desirable, sustainable, Smart, homes in a mixed community, with 40% of the those homes being affordable.
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 jobs, skills and training opportunities, new business and leisure accommodation and a vibrant cultural offer, as well as those new homes.
If delivered successfully, the scheme could also bring in £1.3billion of inward investment to the area, create over 1,500 construction jobs and an additional 4,400 employment opportunities for local people. In total it will provide around £90million annually to the local economy and an economic impact of close to £1billion over ten years.
The site of the South Down Project lies within the Coastal West Sussex area – still an underperforming part of the Coast to Capital economy. However, it may have the opportunity to build on the success of Brighton and Hove, in particular, if it can provide the housing, transport infrastructure and employment space required by residents and businesses alike.
Spreading the Benefits of Growth
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. The effective integration of housing, transport and employment are key to supporting economic development.
The growth in the resident population and the popularity of Greater Brighton and Coastal West Sussex (GBCWS) to people moving out of London, in particular, has created affordability issues, particularly in Brighton and Hove and Chichester. According to Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, there is a clear pattern of people moving into Brighton and Hove from London and from Brighton and Hove into parts of Coastal West Sussex that are both more affordable and which provide more family housing.
Housing costs across the whole of GBCWS are high, however, and there is a risk that lower paid workers are priced out of the area altogether, particularly if there is not a sufficiently diverse range of tenures available. There is a clear link between housing supply and affordability and 30,000 new dwellings are planned for the GBCWS area by 2025.
However, to achieve this there will need to be a 53% increase in housing delivery rates compared with what has been built in the past. There may be a demand for family housing in Coastal West Sussex from people moving out of Brighton and Hove. However, according to the West Sussex Infrastructure Study, the current housing stock across the county is already skewed towards family housing, whilst the ageing population is likely to result in a greater demand for single person housing in the future.
How could 2,200 new homes fit in the site?
Simple: don’t build standard market housing, build innovative, modern, attractive, apartments.
There are essentially two very basic reasons why houses won’t work in the Cement Works quarry, and why apartments will. They are:
- As anyone who has visited the site will tell you, a standard house, or an estate of houses, or a small village of houses, would simply look ridiculous in this site. The quarry is breathtakingly huge, and when you stand in its bowl, some of the cliffs around you reach up to 100 ft above your head. To get some idea of the impracticality of building standard houses in the site, imagine what the houses around Burgess Hill, or Haywards Heath, would look like if they were sitting in the Grand Canyon, and somebody had painted it white. The idea doesn’t work. Nobody would buy them. (Unless, of course, they were very cheap. Which could lead to a whole lot of other problems.)
- To maximise the land area available for: landscaping; cultural amenity; leisure activities; retail; water landscaping; play areas; Visitor Centre and Education Centre buildings; business zones; Car Club car parks; road infrastructure; a school; a health centre; two hotels; plus a host of other valuable amenities, you have to reduce the ‘footprint’ of the homes. So you don’t put them alongside each other, you put them on top of each other. Which gives the chance for super-modern apartments (like some of London’s riverside apartments), to be designed as Smart, hi-tech, completely sustainable, and very desirable, new homes. Which a lot of people will want to buy.
Homes designed by a famous, local, architect
The team behind the South Down Project are working with one of the UK’s most forward thinking architectural practices, LCE Architects of Brighton, to make certain that the vision can be a reality. LCE Architects, lead by Nick Lomax, designed the much awarded Jubilee Library in Brighton’s Jubilee Quarter, which won them over ten prestigious awards, and cemented their reputation as architects that know how to design contemporary buildings that work well for both people, and the sustainability needs of the environment.
The South Down Project team have been developing the concepts for the homes, landscaping and other key buildings in the site, with Nick and his team since the summer of 2014, and the ideas and concepts that have been produced in that time could turn the Cement Works into one of the most interesting places to live in the UK.
There are also a number of ideas around leisure, education, disability, sustainable energy generation and Visitor Centres, that could make the site a World Class example of how people can work in, live in, visit, and spend their money in, a sustainable community.
Want to know more about the regeneration potential?
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