I do like to be beside the seaside

Posted: 04/05/17

There’s definitely something in the air down here in Brighton at the moment. Not only is the town madly celebrating having the best team in the Championship (heading up to the Premier league – not been up at the top level since 1983), but it is also undergoing a new wave of optimism, despite the dreariness of Brexit and the awful ructions in world politics.

Words by Paul Zara - Partner, Conran and Partners

House prices continue to rise, despite the problems created by Southern Rail, and although this causes great problems of affordability in the housing sector, it’s a sign of the ever-increasing popularity of the place. And maybe it’s not such a bad thing, it means people are now considering formerly less popular locations – Saltdean, Newhaven, Shoreham – and these places get a new wave of residents who want to spend money in these towns. Saltdean, of course, has the Lido pool (one of our favourite projects!) re-opening to swimmers in the summer and which we’ve been working on with the support of the local community for more than five years.

Even the restaurant scene is reaching new heights with two new rivals, Masterchef winner Steven Edwards opening his first restaurant. Etch, in Hove using amazing local produce, and aiming for a Michelin star, and Pike & Pine in Kemptown, Matt Gillan’s ‘distinctive, contemporary cooking in a modern, botanical backdrop’. It’s great to see the restaurants sector raising the stakes, (or braising the steaks maybe).

Conran and Partners have had a studio here for ten years and in that time we have become the largest practice in the city. From our base in Queens Road we have run major projects in London and the southeast as well as within Brighton & Hove. From large estate regeneration projects to one-off houses, Brighton’s greenest office building, the restoration of the much loved Embassy Court, affordable eco-housing in Bevendean and a multiple award winning affordable housing scheme on Portland Road in Hove.

We are currently in the process of delivering thousands of homes in Brighton and across the UK with a significant proportion being affordable or social housing.

There is more to come. We are passionate about the city and we are working hard on ideas to make housing in the city more affordable. It’s a city famed for its inclusiveness – anyone can do anything in Brighton – and we need to keep that vibrancy. Our links with the city run deep, not only did I grow up nearby in Lewes, so Brighton was my playground, but Terence Conran opened his first Habitat outside London in the then groovily brutalist Churchill Square shopping centre. He obviously knew what he was doing. It is deeply missed!

Major schemes are on the drawing boards, or coming out of the ground: The Marina, the King Alfred, Circus Street, Preston Barracks, Anston House. The city is on a roll and we’ve had a great decade here and that’s down to building a very strong team.

I run the Brighton studio with fellow Partner Lee Davies who, despite being Welsh and generally favouring a sport with rather differently shaped balls, holds a Brighton & Hove Albion season ticket and regularly takes his three sons to the stadium. Lee has been essential in building our Brighton studio and is leading on a vast portfolio of projects. I asked him his views:
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Brighton & Hove has a unique character and that’s why I live here. It’s a great place to work and to bring up children and it inspires me every day. I work with a great team and we’ve achieved so much together. Right now is the best time we’ve experienced during the past decade, which, given the state of the world, is saying something. I can’t wait for the next ten years and I can’t wait to see the Albion in the Premiership. Not sure which one I’m more excited about – and not sure if I need to choose!

Lee Davies - Partner, Conran and Partners
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