the Business Forum and
the Economic Partnership
in Brighton & Hove
Homepage    BCRP Intranet    Funding    Events    Knowledgebase    Links    About us     Contact us
Key projects



Workforce development 


Business &

Property &
Development sites




Consultation opportunities

Brighton & Hove Business Forum
8-11 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, BN1 1EE
Tel: 01273 735442
Email: info@brighton

© Brighton & Hove
Business Forum

News - 19 April 2009
(photo source:

City Council consider sale of land to Amex.

A Council cabinet meeting on 23rd April will consider the sale of the freehold of council-owned land in Edward Street upon which the existing American Express European headquarters building is located. The local authority does not normally sell land and American Express was instead granted a long lease when it constructed the building in 1977. Should the land be sold now?

The 28,000 sq metre Amex House (nicknamed The Wedding Cake) was constructed at a cost of £10m over 30 years ago and remains an iconic building housing over 3,000 employees. Like the Brighton Centre, which was built at about the same time, it is now an ageing design and American Express want to acquire the freehold ownership to unlock the development of the land that they own to the north of the HQ site (click on link below for a map) and have the flexibility to replace the existing building when the time comes.

They want the flexibility to masterplan the entire site to allow for their the long-term future space planning. The company’s Global Real Estate Board have confirmed proposals for a new 24,000 sq metre office complex to the north of the existing building (see earlier story), which would almost double Amex’s employment capacity in the city.

The new complex would be the company’s third largest employment site in the world and would undoubtedly secure their long-term commitment to the city for generations.


The Council is quite right to be protective of its freehold assets. It is one of the largest property owning local authorities in the country and the income derived from leases is a valuable contribution to the considerable cost of running the city.

However, the protection of assets has to be balanced against our long-term needs and Amex is a global company that can relocate anywhere in the world.

There is no suggestion that Amex is in any way holding a gun to the council's head (they have made it clear that the request to purchase the freehold is an operational and property decision and is not something aimed at achieving financial advantage) but their loss would be immense if they looked elsewhere to expand. It is estimated that they account for something in the region of 7% of the entire economy of the city.

In addition the City Employment & Skills Plan has identified a need for an additional 16,000 jobs over the next 10 years if we are to accommodate our growing population and reach an 80% employment rate. Ideally we want to generate jobs that pay above average wages and that are based locally so that residents do not have to commute.

The situation is not without precedent. The sale of the freehold of Churchill Square to Standard Life in the 1990’s demonstrated the enormous advantages of sometimes letting go of a freehold transforming a decrepit, embarrassing 1960’s failure into one of the most successful city centre shopping malls in the south-east.

The Amex site is a similar situation. With the appropriate safeguards in place, the release of this land will secure literally thousands of good jobs with clear, strong career progression routes in a global company. The local authority should sell the freehold to American Express.

Click here to download Amex development site land ownership

Read related items on:
Development sites
Workforce Development
American Express
Edward Street

Browse our business Knowledgebase or search by keyword


16 May 2018
Can you help us help rough sleepers? Search for a venue to provide shelter
15 May 2018
New Research Reveals Cost of Opening A Business in Brighton: £6,000 11 May 2018
Tech firm SaleCycle to open new office in Brighton, creating 30+ new jobs 4 May 2018
Get involved - National Numeracy Day This 16 May 1 May 2018
Barclays' High Growth & Entrepreneurs Awards 2018 launch to celebrate start-up leaders in the UK 30 April 2018
Barclays launches major drive to help SMEs tackle Cymbercrime 24 April 2018
An evening with Chris Fox, Lib Dem Peer 24 April 2018
"A triumph of innovation" 13 April 2018
Brighton city Centre Vacancy Rates continue to buck national trend 12 April 2018
The Ivy in the Lanes Set to open 2 May 2018 11 April 2018
Free Dr Bike Service Returns 20 March 2018
Brighton named most entrepreneurial city AND second best for student happiness according to Fresh Student Living 19 March 2018
A Meeting with Chris Fox, Lib Dem Peer - Why Business Matters 14 March 2018
Better Business for All Event with BEIS 7 March 2018
Brighton celebrates women in tech as Spring Forward festival returns for a fourth year 6 March 2018
Six months of success for BTN BikeShare 2 March 2018
Sustainability in Action masterclasses for Sussex businesses 2 March 2018
Doing Business in China comes to Brighton 1 March 2018
Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce presents: Protecting your brand- a guide for fast growth businesses 1 March 2018
Long haul passengers boost local economy and jobs, according to new Gatwick report on the 'Visitor Economy' 28 February 2018
Save time reporting crime 27 February 2018
Warren Morgan Resigns from Brighton & Hove City Council 23 February 2018
Brighton Technology Company, Paxton Ranks in Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 23 February 2018
Greater Brighton's Commercial Property Database 22 February 2018
SE-ASSIST - Launch of Loan Capital in Greater Brighton 19 February 2018
House Price update Q4 2017 19 February 2018
What would you do in a crisis? 19 February 2018
The investment journey for high growth entrepreneurs 9 February 2018
Make Change Count 2018 - helping rough sleepers in Brighton & Hove 8 February 2018
Brighton Technology Company Paxton Announces Recipients of New Scholarship Programmein Association with the University of Brighton 8 February 2018
Cyber London Accelerator Invites Summer 2018 Entries 8 February 2018
Innovate UK Launches Strand 2 Emerging and Enabling Technologies Sector Competition 8 February 2018
Success In Sussex As Food And Drink Heroes Crowned Winners 8 February 2018
UK Games Fund - Fourth Round Open to Applications 8 February 2018
Innovate UK & Prince's Trust Launch Young Innovators' Programme 6 February 2018
Brighton & Hove Food Partnership launches 'Kit Out The Kitchen' crowdfunding campaign 2 February 2018
Brighton & Hove Council and Crest Nicholson win £15m government funding to kickstart King Alfred project 1 February 2018
Could a Utilise Plus Programme grant help you? 1 February 2018
Shoreham Port Facilitates Huge Operation