Circus Street new Cultural Quarter opens in Brighton

The new Circus Street cultural quarter was officially opened today [November 3] by Brighton & Hove City Council Leader Phélim Mac Cafferty at a ribbon cutting ceremony with members of a unique public private partnership formed to transform the former fruit and vegetable market site, led by U+I and Brighton & Hove City Council, with GCP Student Living plc, Gravis Capital Management, M&G Real Estate, the University of Brighton, South East Dance and Coast to Capital.

Developed by specialist regeneration developer U+I and designed by award-winning architects ShedKM, Circus Street includes 142 homes, 450 student bedrooms, a new innovation community in 30,000 sq ft of new office space, a range of food and drink outlets and, at its heart, a new home for South East Dance in the city’s first purpose-built dance house.

Inspired by the historic agricultural laines of Brighton and the tight urban grain of the older parts of the city, the scale of the buildings, the walkways between them and two new public squares have been designed to inspire those living and working there and encourage a sense of community and social interaction.

State of the art environmental building design has been combined with landscaping focused on building biodiversity, making this a very green development where over 100 trees have been planted, including a mature elm tree, centrally placed as an emblem of regeneration and growth.

Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty said, “Having been involved in this project almost a decade ago, it has been inspiring to watch paper plans rise as buildings out of the ground in the transformation of this derelict brownfield site. Where once stood a fruit and veg market I am delighted that the city wins an exciting new home for South East Dance, much needed homes, top spec office space and a brand new neighbourhood. I’m thrilled to welcome this brilliantly designed development which has acted as an important signal for the city to declare that we are once again open for business – an important signal in the years since planning consent in 2014. The bold design of the city’s newest neighbourhood stands so well in its proximity to the new Valley Gardens and our city’s jewel in the crown, the Royal Pavilion.”

Said Richard Upton, CEO of U + I Plc, “Our goal was to bring cultural, economic and educational benefits to a currently deprived area. We want to make Circus Street the go-to place for Brighton’s creative individuals, innovative business start-ups, students and nearby residents. We have already started to install public art installations for the whole city to enjoy, but watch this space, as there are more exciting art works on their way.”

Artistic Director of South East Dance, Cath James, said: “The opening of this new Cultural Quarter, at the heart of which sits The Dance Space, is an exciting milestone in our journey to launching the city’s new home for dance in 2022. The Dance Space will be a welcoming, accessible, sustainable place, where dance artists and people of all ages and abilities are invited to make dance work, and take part in dance classes, workshops, performances and events year-round in a beautiful building designed specifically for dance. We can’t wait to open our doors.”

Professor Debra Humphris, University of Brighton’s Vice-Chancellor, said, “Our brilliant  School of Art & Media and Grand Parade Campus overlooks this fantastic new part of the city, which was a grey and derelict place for so long and we are proud to be part of the partnership that has brought this to fruition, including our open green space.”

David Smith, Head of Investment at Coast to Capital said, “Brighton & Hove is arguably the most successful coastal city in the UK and is a global intellectual gateway. Creative, disruptive and collaborative ways of working are embraced to respond to global challenges and economic opportunities. We are delighted that the Circus Street project has opened, helping to attract residents, visitors and businesses to the area and we look forward to seeing innovative opportunities arise as a result.

Circus Street, which has been delivered in a £130 million Public Private Partnership with Brighton and Hove Council, is creating over 400 new jobs and will add more than £200 million gross value to the local economy in the next 10 years.

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