Pioneering Brighton project raises the sustainability bar to a new high

A major eco-development in Brighton’s city centre has succeeded in setting high environmental, social and commercial standards, according to an in-depth review.

Crest Nicholson and BioRegional Quintain’s One Brighton complex of 172 apartments plus office and community space is saving its residents money, giving them a greener, healthier lifestyle and significantly reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and water consumption.

But the ambitious development also turned a profit despite going on sale during the depths of the recession. And it provided dozens of affordable new homes in one of the most expensive UK housing markets outside of London.

In his foreword to the 40-page review, Crest Nicholson Chief Executive Stephen Stone says:

“Working with willing partners we have been able to really push the boundaries of housing delivery to create not only a great place to live for our customers, but also achieve value for wider society, the environment, and our business. One Brighton provides an enduring legacy.”

BioRegional Chief Executive and co-founder Sue Riddlestone says:

“One Brighton is a new benchmark for the UK and internationally. Emerging from the lessons of BedZED, it is the first One Planet Community to have been constructed in a growing international network of communities rising to the challenge of One Planet Living.”

The development close to Brighton’s mainline station consists of two blocks of 12 and 8 storeys, with 31% of its apartments allocated for shared equity or social housing. A further 11% were built as low-cost “Eco-Studios” offering people a first rung on the housing ladder. All the for-sale homes were sold successfully despite the building being completed in 2009 as the post-credit crunch recession deepened.

One Brighton built on the lessons learned from the pioneering BedZED eco-village of 100 homes in Sutton, south London, developed by housing association Peabody in partnership with sustainability charity BioRegional.

BioRegional used that experience to map out ten One Planet principles for sustainable living. These were then used to draw up a One Planet Action Plan covering all phases of One Brighton’s life – from early design and planning through construction into occupation. This action plan underpins its status as a One Planet Community, the first in a growing global family, and sets a range of challenging targets.

It also includes regular reviews of progress. The document BioRegional is publishing today constitutes its first major review, setting out performance against challenging One Planet targets set for 2020 and lessons learned.

Among the headline results are:

  • Successful planning consent and marketing of UK’s largest private car free development
  • Pouring of greenest concrete frame in UK – post-tensioned concrete comprising 50% ground granulated blast furnace slag and use of 100% secondary aggregates
  • A 67% reduction in operational carbon emissions compared to the UK’s existing housing stock, with good potential to achieve a reduction of 89% by 2020, approaching the (near) Zero Carbon target for One Planet Communities.
  • Successful introduction of the first designed-in rooftop mini-allotments, inspiring the local planning authority to introduce an award-winning Planning Advisory Note on Food and Planning

One resident is quoted as saying:

“My husband and I moved into One Brighton, sold our cars and adopted a healthier lifestyle. In 18 months we lost 35 kg between us.”

The highly insulated, triple glazed building designed with architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and built by Denne under a design and build contract is heated by woodfuel pellets. Its electricity is sourced from a green power provider through its own energy services company.

The review, which includes an in-depth assessment of One Brighton’s lifecycle carbon emissions, is available on BioRegional’s website along with a four page summary. The life cycle analysis by eTool is also available there.

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