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Brighton Journal | 2nd April 2020

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Green Light Given to New Moulsecoomb Campus Project which Promises £500m to Local Economy, 1,000 New Jobs, and 74 New Affordable Homes

Green Light Given to New Moulsecoomb Campus Project which Promises £500m to Local Economy, 1,000 New Jobs, and 74 New Affordable Homes
Hannah Midgley

The University of Brighton are investing in the future through a construction project aimed at making the university an even better place to work and learn.

Their ambitious plans include the transformation of the Moulsecoomb campus, providing a new academic building, 1,338 student bedrooms in new halls of residence, new Students’ Union facilities and multi-storey car park.

The wider Moulsecoomb development, being undertaken in partnership with developers U+I and Brighton & Hove City Council, will transform the whole area and promises to deliver:

•    £500 million of economic benefit to Brighton & Hove
•    a new business start-up hub
•    369 new homes (including affordable housing)
•    improved transport and pedestrian links
•    new public spaces and amenities
•    reduced pressure on local housing.

The wider Moulsecoomb masterplan is for three current sites: Preston Barracks and the Mithras and Watts car parks. The Mithras and Watts sites are part of the university’s development proposals. U+I PLC is the developer for the Preston Barracks site.

The Mithras car park site promises more than 800 managed student accommodation beds on land owned by the university, and new facilities for students which will include sports and recreation, and the Brighton Students’ Union. Similarly the Watts car park site shall be turned into 75,348 square feet of academic space, which will provide state-of-the-art teaching, learning and social spaces for the campus, and a 600-space multi-storey car park

The Preston Barrack site shall house 369 new homes, incorporating 74 affordable homes (20%) and car parking spaces, additional student accommodation (taking the overall total up to around 1,338 beds), a 50,000 square foot Central Research Laboratory that will be a hub for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, and a space for new shops, cafes and workshops.

The development project will also be host to new facilities and spaces for the community including more open, green and improved public spaces using existing brownfield sites, new university sport and recreation facilities that will be available for public use including a gym, and a 1km running and fitness route.

Two new access junctions are being created on Lewes Road which will support the Preston Barracks site, with a new pedestrian bridge that will connect both sides of Lewes Road, running parallel with Natal Road and Saunders Park Road. Access to the Watts site will become a shared space for pedestrians, vehicles and other road users. There are plans to extend the provision of sustainable travel options to provide additional cycle parking and there will be a bike hub as part of the city council’s proposed bike share scheme, to provide bikes that can be hired by the public.

The development is estimated to contribute over £500 million to the city’s economy over the next ten years and create 1,000 new jobs. There will be 369 new homes, of which 20 percent will be affordable housing.  There will be space and support for local craftspeople and entrepreneurs, a public exhibition space and new green spaces.

In addition to providing new academic facilities, the university campus will have new sports and recreation facilities that will be opened up to local residents. The development will also support our university strategy aim to provide student accommodation for all first-year students, providing more than 1,300 student beds (804 on the Mithras House car park site and 534 on the Preston Barracks site).

There will be much-improved pedestrian and cycle links throughout the development, including a new pedestrian bridge across Lewes Road and better access to Moulsecoomb railway station.

The development is proposed for a “tall buildings corridor” in the city of Brighton & Hove, which allows for the construction of multi-storey buildings. In response to feedback during the consultation process in 2016, building heights were reduced by five storeys on the Mithras site and three storeys on the Preston Barracks site.

Building heights are proposed as follows:

  • Preston Barracks – ranging from 3 to 15 storeys
  • Watts House car park site – ranging from 4 to 6 storeys
  • Mithras House car park site – ranging from 2 to 18 storeys.

Given the size of the development building work is likely to take at least 2-3 years. The university are working with architects and developers to look at how the work can be phased to minimise disruption to residents, staff and current students. For instance, they are looking at the impact on car parking and traffic flow.

All university parking is being consolidated in the 600-space, multi-storey car park on the campus. Additional parking to support residential and commercial uses will be available on the Preston Barracks site. Brighton University are also drawing up a new transport plan for the campus that will further improve cycling and pedestrian access, discourage car use among staff and students and make university parking available to residents and other users outside of term time.

The university takes the issue of disruption to local communities very seriously. All students must sign up to acceptable levels of behaviour as part of their contract with the university. With more students living in managed accommodation on campus it should mean less disruption for local residents and make it easier for the university to deal with problems. The university also has a community liaison team which works closely with local residents to address their concerns.

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