400m development deal in Brighton and Hove put on ice due to ‘Brexit uncertainty’

Developers say Brexit deal deadlock “does not provide the basis for major investment decisions”

 A major leisure centre development project between Brighton and Hove City Council and developers Crest Nicholson has run aground due to ‘Brexit uncertainty.’

A letter from developers citing Brexit as a major issue to the project’s feasibility was handed to Councillors just hours before a vote on the final development deal.

Referring to the impact of a possible no-deal Brexit, the letter cites ‘certain scenarios’ that could ‘[…]yet undermine the project’s feasibility,’ and further states that ‘[…]the current deadlock is most unhelpful…and does not provide the basis for major investment decisions in the interim.’

Councillors had been preparing to vote on a deal with Crest Nicholson to replace the council-run King Alfred Leisure Centre with new, improved sports facilities and affordable housing.  

The Government awarded £15.2m of Housing Infrastructure Funding last year in order to plug the financial ‘viability gap’ of the project.

The King Alfred scheme has been a continued source of controversy, with concerns that developers will not follow through with plans for affordable housing on the site in a bid to retain a suitable profit margin.

Green Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, spokesperson for the Greens on the Council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee, commented:

“Greens have repeatedly pushed for answers on the impact of Brexit on Brighton and Hove. We have demanded impact assessments – to no avail – and called for recognition of the likely negative impact a ‘no deal’ would have on our council, communities and budgets. Now we’re beginning to see the real effect of Brexit on our city, and already it means developers are slamming the brakes on major development, critical housing projects are being put on ice, and new jobs and opportunities are being put on hold.

“On top of the very real effects of Brexit on our communities, we now have a situation where fears about market stability and ‘profit’ have driven developers to backtrack on agreements, leaving councils, yet again, in the lurch.

“We are a city with a housing crisis – we need to be able to attract new developments and jobs. It is unacceptable that Brexit has become the means by which developers can now bow out of council agreements. The UK’s exit from the European Union has been on the cards for months. There is still no clarity from Government – and the ‘uncertainty’ described by Crest is unlikely to end without a People’s Vote.”

Councillor Ollie Sykes, Green finance lead, added:

“Fantasy-land Brexiteers are quick to label every mooted negative impact of Brexit as ‘Project Fear,’ but these ‘fears’ are becoming a reality. Worse still, while developers seek to protect themselves and their profit from risk, it is local councils who have been left to pick up the pieces of the Brexit mess. 

“There is huge anger about this – both with the developers, who after years of negotiation have let us down; and with the Government, who have systematically ignored the devastating impact Brexit will have on local councils, major projects and regeneration.”


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