Councillors look set to approve a £9.5m revamp of the 1960s industrial tower block in the New England Quarter to form a centre for the city’s burgeoning digital media sector.
A report on the plan is being considered by the city council cabinet on October 14. The favoured option is renovating and recladding the 11,500 sq metre building to ensure another 40 years of useful life and expanding available workspace by building over the car park.
This could add accommodation for around 500 more people in a building already housing about 800. The plans do not require any of the 87 existing tenants to move out.
The council is working on the scheme with Wired Sussex and the University of Sussex. While no decision has made on how it would be funded, options include borrowing or going into partnership with the private sector developer.
Digital and creative industries are seen as having a key role in sustaining the city’s economy. Already Brighton & Hove is home to a cluster of around 1,500 media-related companies employing 10,000 people, plus another 5,000 freelancers.
Council leader Mary Mears said: “This building served our industries in the past but needs work done if it’s to serve the industries of the future. Building the economy is one of our priorities and digital media will be crucial to that.”
Professor Bob Allison, University of Sussex Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: "The University of Sussex has thriving research activity in digital and social media, which is a key growth area for the University. The development of a vibrant hub for companies from the digital and creative industries will therefore help the University and the city to work with and attract interest from companies nationally and internationally."
Wired Sussex MD Phil Jones said “A renovated New England House would stand as both a statement of how far the digital and media sector in the city has come and also testament to its future ambition. This is about creating a world class centre for innovation and collaboration in the creative industries, something which can help underpin Brighton’s future prosperity. It is great to be moving forward with the project.”
Click here to download DCA Consultant's report [Executive Summary]
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