Brighton’s Preston Barracks innovation hub ‘topped out’

Specialist regeneration and property developer U+I and GRAHAM have celebrated ‘topping out’ a unique new innovation hub for local businesses, called Plus X, as part of the Preston Barracks redevelopment in Brighton.

Construction of the 50,000 sq ft building marks the first phase of works on the overall Preston Barracks project, a significant mixed-use regeneration scheme that will radically transform this part of Brighton.

Over seven floors and 53,000 sq. ft, Plus X Brighton will accommodate more than 550 people, attracting a wide community of members including freelancers, start-ups, scaleups, corporates and education partners.

GRAHAM has built the seven-storey concrete-framed workspace building, which will target a BREEAM Excellent rating. Geared towards small businesses and start-ups, the building will provide a variety of flexible workspaces, as well as prototyping facilities, events spaces and a landscaped roof garden. It is expected to complete by the end of 2019. The building will be part-funded by Coast to Capital a Local Enterprise Partnership.

Cladding works to the commercial hub have now commenced with a view to completing by end of the summer and the installation of services and internal finishes will start over the summer, with the building due to be completed by the end of 2019.

Richard Upton, Chief Development Officer at U+I adds:

“Innovation is an integral part of our business. We exist to unlock potential and drive growth into mixed-use regeneration by breathing new life into neglected or underestimated places. The first Plus X will open at Preston Barracks in Brighton in early 2020 and we have also submitted planning for a purpose-designed facility at The Old Vinyl Factory. This is just the start, as we plan to develop further Plus X holdings at other major regeneration projects. This concept delivers substantial wash over of value to our wider regeneration activity and we believe it is the first of its kind in our industry. Every Plus X building will embrace beautiful architecture, inspirational interiors and deliver substantial economic growth”.

The £200 million project has been designed by award-winning architects, Studio Egret and tp bennett, and will include 369 new homes, 534 student beds, shops, cafes and workshops.

The wider masterplan, which encompasses two of the University of Brighton sites, will provide further student accommodation and academic facilities. It is estimated the whole masterplan will deliver over 1,500 new jobs and bring £281 million into Brighton & Hove’s economy over the next ten years.

The concrete frame works associated with the 534 student accommodation buildings will continue and the second tower crane has been installed. The student buildings are due to be completed during the summer of 2020.

A new accessible pedestrian bridge will provide a safe and easy way to cross the Lewes Road, together with new walking routes, green spaces and extensive landscaping.

For a high-quality finish on the buildings at Preston Barracks, white brick and ceramic tiles will be used as the main external materials.

Optivo Housing Association will be delivering 369 new homes in the residential element of the Preston Barracks scheme, allowing the affordable housing provision to increase from 15% to 34%, creating 125 new affordable local homes.

Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital, said:

“Greater Brighton is one of the fastest-growing city regions in the UK, rated in the top five for jobs growth in the past five years and one of the best places to start a new business. Home to the University of Brighton, the city has an entrepreneurial and innovative edge which has led to the emergence of a world-renowned creative and digital tech cluster.

“The Preston Barracks project will transform Lewes road into a new, state of the art facility which will enhance the offer for local students and support business growth. We are delighted that our £7.7 million LGF investment has helped to get the project off the ground and the topping out ceremony of the innovation hub Plus X is a key milestone in the development. We are excited to see future developments as they arise.”