Brighton media hub decision expected soon | Offices.org.uk

Brighton media hub decision expected soon

Posted on by John Cronin

Councillors look set to approve a revamp of 1960’s industrial tower block in Brighton to form a centre for the city’s burgeoning digital media sector.

New England HouseBrighton and Hove councillors are to meet this Thursday, 14th October 2010, to consider the £9.5m redevelopment of New England House (pictured), an office block that already has 87 tenants and houses some 800 people. The favoured option is renovating and recladding the 11,500 sq metre building coupled with an extension to the office by building over the car park. It is expected that the plans would create additional floor space to accommodate another 500 people.

The council is working in conjunction with both Wired Sussex and the University of Sussex and is keen to promote New England House as a hub for companies working in the digital media sector. Estimates suggest that Brighton and 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.”

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.”

As it currently stands New England House is an 8 storey office block with over 120,000 sq ft of lettable space. The building is owned by the city council. It was opened in 1964 and is reported as being the first purpose built, high-rise industrial business centre in the world. Currently 60% of the total floor space it is let as workshops and office units to a mix of businesses, quite a few of which fall within the creative industries and, more particularly, the digital media industries.

Whilst being structurally sound New England House as a whole suffers from exterior dilapidations and much of the services infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life. Although funding options are yet to be decided, the council and local business groups believe a speculative redevelopment of the building will be successful. A recent study by the Brighton Business forum concluded that:

“New England House offers both scale and the flexible configuration of spaces across large floor plates meaning that it is suited to providing accommodation for larger and growing businesses. At the same time, it can be sub-divided to provide smaller units where, although the accommodation shortage in the city is not so acute, the benefits of clustering will be more pronounced on a business’s prospects.”

Letting agents Cluttons are currently marketing floor space in Unit D, level 8 of New England House at £16,000 pa for 1262 sq ft of floor space, equivalent to £12.68 / sq ft.

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