Preston Barracks regeneration scheme

The redevelopment of Preston Barracks and University of Brighton Moulsecoomb campus.

Project summary

This £150 million scheme on the Lewes Road is part of a wider regeneration project involving neighbouring University land, which aims to transform this part of Brighton.

The current plans for the redevelopment of the Preston Barracks site started in July 2014. At that time, the council exchanged contracts with the University of Brighton and developers U+I Plc (formerly Cathedral Group (Holdings) Ltd & Development Securities PLC).

The partners then developed detailed plans in a process that included a number of public consultation events. This culminated in February 2017 with submission of the full planning application (Application number: BH2017/00492). The regeneration scheme took a huge step forward in September 2017 when planning consent was granted.

The comprehensive redevelopment will deliver new employment space in the form of the ‘Central Research Laboratory’, a commercial building for start-ups and SME’s in the high-tech manufacturing sector; 369 quality new homes; new university academic space; student accommodation with 1,338 bedrooms; and associated ancillary development including a modest amount of retail space.

The proposals cover the former Preston Barracks site and the University of Brighton's Mithras and Watts car park sites on the Moulsecoomb campus; a total area of some 4 hectares.

Subject to completion of legal agreements, demolition of the existing buildings on the barracks site will commence from November 2017, with the first phase of construction due to start in the spring of 2018.

FIELD Brighton pilot scheme

In 2016, the developers introduced a pilot scheme called FIELD as a meanwhile use on the barracks site. FIELD provided a temporary home to eight innovative start-up businesses in Brighton. This initiative helped inform development of the Central Research Laboratory (CRL) commercial building, the key employment generating element at the heart of the redevelopment. The CRL project was awarded £7.7 million of funding by the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and construction of the CRL will form part of the first phase of works.

History of the development

The Preston Barracks site is owned by the council. It was acquired from the Ministry of Defence because of its strategic significance and potential to contribute towards many of the city's priorities. We wanted to create a first class, sustainable, employment-led, mixed-use development to help regenerate the area. The site, on the main Lewes Road, is an 'urban gateway' to the city from the 'Academic Corridor' (close to Brighton and Sussex Universities).

Since 2009, the council had been working in partnership with the University of Brighton to explore wider development opportunities that included the former barracks site alongside adjacent university land.  This effectively doubled the area of developable land, offering the prospect of a more integrated and comprehensive development.  Having agreed a 'Shared Vision' that sets out joint aspirations for the redevelopment in 2009, a Site Capacity Assessment that examined development potential was then completed in 2010.

The council approved a planning brief at the Planning, Employment, Economy & Regeneration Cabinet Member Meeting on 15 September 2011.  The brief provided a means of interpreting adopted planning policy in respect of the Preston Barracks site as set out in the Local Plan and the (Preston Barracks supplementary planning guidance note (SPGBH 14). It also reflected the changed context of considering redevelopment as part of a wider package that included the University's Moulsecoomb campus and Mithras House site. The brief sought a mixed development across the three sites that would provide a strong and identifiable city quarter for the benefit of all.

In 2012, the partners commissioned a new masterplan covering the extended development area, the results of which lead to a detailed assessment of financial viability and a review of delivery options. The outcome of this review was presented to the council's Policy & Resources (P&R) Committee in July 2013, when it was agreed that the council should enter into negotiations to actively consider disposal of the council-owned barracks site to the University of Brighton and/or its development partner. Negotiations progressed well and following a report to the cross-party Project Board on 20 November, an update report was considered at P&R on 5 December 2013. The committee supported the work to date and agreed the detailed arrangements for the partners to conclude negotiations.

Contact us about the development

For further information on the scheme please phone 01273 291106 or send an email to