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BHEAA Commercial Property Report 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016 By Phil Graves

“The economy at a local level is strong and pretty robust, but we must plan properly for our future and huge challenges lay ahead."

It has been another progressive year for the commercial property market, although we are sometimes victims of our own success. More people want to live, work and socialise here, but at the present time we are struggling to cope with the demand for space and facilities.

The forthcoming City Plan adoption, or so we hope in early 2016, will pave the way for the City’s strategic vision until 2030, but already there are doubts. Trying to satisfy housing targets which are never reached year on year, creating a dynamic workforce and employment opportunities, making the City ‘the’ place to visit against others and improving facilities and infrastructure will always be an extremely difficult task – and against a backdrop of severe Government funding cuts.

But there is no running away from our responsibilities and to deliver a City for the future then we must plan carefully and develop wisely. This involves sometimes controversial planning, but assuming there is quality design on appropriate sites, then we must perform. There are good examples of this happening in Circus Street, Preston Barracks, the Station site and others, whereby each element of the design will add positively to the City’s economy, housing and way of life.

Permitted Development Rights (PDR) have now come into play to allow a Change of Use on certain offices and commercial property to residential, which increases our housing stock and also office rental levels, which should stimulate further development. We must provide employment opportunities for our residents otherwise the fear is we will become a dormant City. Commercial buildings will have to be built at the same pace as residential to cope with demand and perhaps mixed use is the way forward?

Due to our location and limitations on available land, we must also embrace the prospect of urban development and high rise buildings on our landscape. The evolvement of the Greater Brighton Economic Board should also be a positive step to meeting the needs of the greater area and encourage inward investment.

Looking to the near future we have the i360, Black Rock, Brighton Marina, Churchill Square, Kings House, King Alfred and a number of other significant schemes to look forward to and to change the face of the City – for the better I am sure.