Coastal West Sussex Ideas Exchange: Spaces & Places

Build it…and they will come?

The third in a series of Ideas Exchange events, which always possible has designed in collaboration with Coastal West Sussex Partnership, was hosted by Ricardo in Shoreham. 

Around 30 people attended the event, representing local authorities and businesses from across the region to discuss commercial space challenges and possible solutions.

Mikael Goldsmith from Vail Williams presented a new report, commissioned by the partnership, which can be downloaded from here.

The report looked at the demand, availability and trends impacting industrial and office space in West Sussex.

Vail Williams logo

Setting the scene, Mikael commented that the Environment Act 2021 is at the forefront of the planning agenda with far reaching implications. Whilst well intentioned and important, the practical realities of the act will means higher costs and time for planning applications and, with a shortage of planning consultants, this will only put the system under more pressure.

Permitted development was designed to release housing stock by allowing office space to be converted to residential units without formal planning approval. However, there is still a real need for employment space across the region so local authorities will be looking carefully at Article 4 to put the breaks on some of these permitted developments.

Mikael went on to present findings regarding the office market, industrial space and business challenges. Read the full blog about the event here.

Attendees were then challenged to create solutions in round-table discussions. Some of these included:

  • A focus on providing more co-working space to meet the demand for flexibility from occupiers
  • ‘If we build it they will come’ – the need to build quality units to attract inward investment
  • Unlock space for existing businesses to grow into including upgrading existing buildings as well as offering affordable coworking space
  • Local authorities across the region to work together to build an integrated transport strategy
  • Education of communities to change the common perception that developments are a bad thing – we need a cultural and attitudinal change from local residents
  • Creating a strategic dialogue, formalising the high-level conversations across the region.
  • Meanwhile use – creating plans to turn public sector space into commercial units, e.g. redundant retail space
  • Incentivising landlords to upgrade properties to improve EPC ratings and create better quality space to attract inward investment
  • Create and provide a simple, clear toolkit for occupiers to reach 2030 net zero targets. Create a sense of urgency that occupiers need to address this quickly.

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