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Moulsecoomb Place

In early 2022, and within months of stepping down as CEO of U+I, Richard acquired an 18th century Manor House with four acres of formal gardens complete with barns, a 13th century cottage and 163 student bedrooms. All from the University of Brighton.

As with the Old Ambulance Station in Bexhill, this investment is one of the first projects focussed on optimising social and economic impact in an area of great need.

While much of Brighton enjoys wealth and prosperity, the community of Moulsecoomb has been left behind. The Moulsecoomb and Bevendean wards are within the top 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK. Only 23% of people aged 16-24 are in full-time employment, 39% of family households are lone parent families and the same percentage, 39% of children, are living in poverty. That compares to 19% across England. Moulsecoomb Place sits in the centre of this deprivation.

This regeneration has the power to transform the neighbourhood and wider community. Working once more with the architectural and landscape titans at Studio Egret West, Richard Brett at We Like Today and supported by a development management team at TOWN, the proposals unashamedly seek to deliver a wonderful collection of public spaces, community-focussed buildings, a new public park with student accommodation to help address the shortfall of 4,200 student bedrooms in the city.

A new pub, with community rooms will be crafted within a restored Manor House. In the 1800’s Prince Regent, George V is said to have been a regular visitor to the house, playing his flute in the dovecote which became known as the Prince’s Tower. The prince gifted three large mahogany doors to the house, which are still there.

The tithe barns will be redrafted to their former glory, an ancient flint- walled garden will host reinvigorated landscape in the heart of the city biosphere.

The Moulsecoomb Social Club will be retained, reshaping what could be considered a traditional ‘working man’s club’ into a ‘working peoples social club’, with a healthy business plan, while retaining grounded affordability for its community.

With these updates to the old buildings and gardens, the entire site will be more accessible for those with disabilities, right up to the adjacent train station, Moulsecoomb Station, meaning greater access for those living locally, and further afield.

And it goes without saying that the project will be filled with public art. Heritage being the ‘King of place making’, according to Richard, with ‘public art the queen’, Moulescoomb is no exception in standards. Richard made an immediate intervention on site, buying a huge wooden structure ‘The Riwaq’ (an arabic word for colonnade) which provides a semi-open space, and installed a cafe on the lawns.

Programming events for the wider community to immediately enjoy the space, what had been private, including ‘keep off the grass!’ signs, immediately became public ‘please play on the grass’ – overnight.

While other developers call this ‘meanwhile’ or a ‘pop-up’. Richard sees the interventions as a responsibility, coining the term ‘worthwhile’.

Pre-application engagement has been considerate and extensive, and application plans have been submitted in 2022.

Resolution to grant consent was approved in April – in just 3.5 months for a major planning application – testimony to the quality of design, and to the trust built with key stakeholders in Brighton. The project is now in planning and out to tender for construction. It’s anticipated that a start on site will happen in 2024, delivering the first phase of this exceptional project in 2027

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