If you have been down for a stroll along the eastern end of the seafront recently, you will have seen that the Black Rock site is a hive of activity.
This is part of a large scale regeneration effort to transform this part of the coastline and enable further development in the future.
Plans for the project include biodiversity and accessibility improvements for the area, restoring the Temple and Grade-II Listed Old Reading Room and an expanded sea wall.
We are also introducing a new seafront classroom for children and young people to take advantage of when visiting the area as well as creating new seating and lighting.
After extensive consultation with local residents we have taken on board suggestions for some short-term uses for the space that will be created by these works such as a temporary BMX ‘pump’ track.
We are working hard to make the area more accessible.
There will be a new crossing across the Volk’s Railway to improve access between the beach and the Old Reading Room.
We are also putting in a new decked area and a 3m wide boardwalk enabling visitors to travel the full length of this section of the beach, that will be fully accessible for both wheelchairs and pushchairs.
The boardwalk will be part of a new pedestrian route that will run all the way from Dukes Mound and into the Marina, with access along the new sea wall or through the subway.
Another new pedestrian route through to the Marina is also being created, underneath the current ramps, that will provide the necessary infrastructure for the future possibility of a seafront hopper service along the coast - although this is only a future ambition for now.
A strong focus on biodiversity
Throughout the planning of this programme of works there has been a strong focus on biodiversity improvements to the area.
An ecology trail is being created with reintroduced native plants, wildflowers, and chalk grassland to encourage both residents and visitors to explore our local habitats.
We’re also relocating and expanding our local wildlife site, so that we can realign the sea wall.
This expansion, that has already begun and will mean a local wildlife site at least five times the size it was, will allow our local plants and animals to thrive.
Throughout the planning of the project we have been working closely with a host of biodiversity experts, with a team of ecologists including the county ecologist, the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst and utilising our close relationship with The Living Coast Biosphere.
Regeneration playing its part in Covid recovery
The whole eastern seafront will start to transform through a future masterplan starting later this year, setting out our future vision for the area and helping to inform future planning of the seafront.
Over the next few years, this work will lead to the rejuvenation of this valuable and historic part of Brighton’s seafront, adding benefits to the public realm and incorporating measures so that the Eastern Seafront can play its part in the city emerging from the pandemic.
When creating the masterplan we will take into consideration regeneration projects such as Black Rock and Madeira Terrace and consider wider plans such as the Tourism Recovery Plan and the Local transport Plan.
Incorporating resident suggestions into plans
Councillor Tom Druitt, chair of the Black Rock project board, said: “I’m delighted to see that this project is underway to transform this section of the seafront.
“This area has long been under-utilised at a prime location of our coastline.
“After an amazing contribution from residents through an extensive period this project is incorporating a number of their suggestions to the works planned including a seafront classroom and a temporary events space.
“With developments in the project including hosting public art, accessibility improvements, and a temporary events space - this area can now start to provide a nicer setting for our residents to use and one we can be proud to show off to our visitors.”
Councillor Martin Osborne, joint chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, said: “It’s important that as we emerge from this pandemic that our public spaces can be used safely.
“We know how much people value having access to public space and spending time with nature and this has been so important for health and well-being during the pandemic
“This project, although planned before the pandemic, will deliver a lot of benefits that build on this.
“With improved access between Black Rock and Brighton Marina, the creation of an ecology trail, new play facilities and classroom, I think the plans for this project can really show off the more relaxed part of our seafront that Black Rock represents, where people can wind down and enjoy the space. I can’t wait to see it when the project is finished.”
We have developed a full section of webpages on the Black Rock rejuvenation programme of works, that will be regularly updated throughout the project.