How Brighton and Hove is tackling the challenges of regeneration

Posted On 04 Apr 2019 at 10:40 am

A major report on Britain’s seaside towns was published today (Thursday 4 April) by a House of Lords select committee.

The Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns is chaired by Lord Bassam of Brighton who – as Steve Bassam – was the long-serving leader of Brighton Borough Council and Brighton and Hove Council.

Lord Bassam is credited with the strategic vision behind the revitalisation of Brighton which continues today and has helped to inform his committee’s report – The Future of Seaside Towns.

Brighton and Hove City Council submitted evidence about the issues and solutions being grappled with in a place regarded by many as something of a success story.

The council said …

In the city of Brighton and Hove we clearly have challenges but these may not be similar to those faced by other smaller coastal towns. Our geographical constraints limit availability of land for development, requiring us to extract the most from those available sites, now mostly located along the seafront strip.

Victorian infrastructure spanning the seafront poses a unique challenge: it is costly to maintain and is sited in an extreme environment; the Victorian arches underpin a 1.5km stretch of the A259 main arterial east-west route.

Private vehicular transport remains the only way to travel from east to west along the seafront. This limits opportunities for residents and visitors to move around the city effectively, creates bus congestion on the parallel city centre route (Western Road, North Street, St James’s Street) and also limits the capacity to make a sustainable business case for key seafront sites currently in development.

The last few years have seen a significant increase in rough sleeping in the city; our city has one of the highest rough sleeping rates in the UK. This is a challenge and has a big impact on resources and the visitor experience.

Brighton and Hove have worse than average outcomes in common with many other seaside towns for drug related (heroin and/or morphine) deaths and suicide. The city has a local strategy and an annual action plan to prevent suicides which has been successful in reducing the number of deaths. This approach could provide useful learning for other seaside towns.

Increasing the uptake of electrical vehicle ownership and fulfilling the demand for charging points is limited by local capacity.

5G connectivity is urgently needed in order for the city to capitalise on new infrastructure such as autonomous vehicles particularly in public transport.

Tourism continues to be an improvement in Brighton and Hove’s economy – the sector supports about 1 in 5 jobs in the city and expenditure of around £160 million. However, wage levels remain comparatively low and the city has one of the lowest levels of housing affordability of all UK cities, with the average house price nearly 11 times the average salary.

Brighton and Hove is home to a strong civil society, with around 2,300 third sector organisations and 6,900 people working in the third sector. The council’s pioneering approach to engaging with and delivering for its communities was demonstrated by its successful crowdfunding campaign for Madeira Terrace which exceeded its challenging target within 6 months.

Background and understanding

1. What are the challenges facing seaside towns and communities? Which of those challenges are common to many seaside towns, and to what extent (and why) have such challenges persisted over a number of years?

Challenges

Brighton and Hove is a tightly constrained, compact city situated between the South Downs National Park and the sea with a population of 271,9526. With a limited legacy of derelict or vacant sites these ‘natural boundaries’ define and limit the outward expansion of the city. The built up area is roughly half of the city’s geographical area (8,267 ha). Despite the recent downturn in the housing market, relatively high house prices, particularly for smaller properties, have put home ownership beyond the reach of many households.

The natural environment within and surrounding the city is of remarkable quality. One sixth of the city’s area is covered by a nature conservation designation and the city is home to a great variety of common and rare animal and plant species. The extensive chalk downland, much of which falls within the South Downs National Park boundaries, is essential to the health of the city, in terms of its water supply (aquifer), biodiversity, and opportunities for leisure and recreation.

• A growing population. The city’s population could be expected to grow by 10.2 per cent to 299,777 by 2030. This represents growth in the population of around 27,759 people by 2030 if current trends continue.
• Although the city has a relatively young population, population growth over the next 20 years is likely to be strongest in those people aged 60 and over (growth of 30 per cent).
• With an ageing population the city needs to ensure that the older population age well, through promoting physical and mental health and promoting age-friendly living environments and housing.
• The need to prioritise the provision of extra care housing to meet the needs of older and disabled people in the community.
• The working age population is projected to increase by 12,650 over the next 10 years. If these projections prove accurate, the city may need to find work for an additional 6,000 residents by 2014 just to keep the employment rate at the current level of 71.1 per cent.
• Access to suitable and affordable housing remains difficult for many households. Affordability of housing has serious implications for the recruitment and retention of staff and has also resulted in a high number of concealed households.
• The city also has a lack of affordable business premises and workspace.
• The city’s unemployment rate remains higher than the South East average. Despite the very high proportion of the city’s adult residents who have higher level qualifications, GCSE attainment within the city’s schools, whilst improving, is well below the national average.
• A number of the city’s areas have been identified as facing high levels of disadvantage. 12 per cent of the city’s local areas are in the 10 per cent most deprived in England. Two of the city’s 164 local areas are in the most deprived 1 per cent of areas in England.

The city’s inclusive growth potential is being constrained by a number of factors, including
• Housing affordability is consistently identified as the top priority for future action in both the city and the City Region; the city is the 4th least affordable city in the UK.
• Constraints in the supply of commercial space has been identified as a barrier to the creation of more jobs in the city: both in terms of grow-on space for businesses looking to scale their activities and large footplate space to attract investment from larger employers.
• Complex land ownership and delivery challenges across site allocations have slowed down housing delivery, which is one of the reasons why our house prices are so unaffordable to local residents.
• Road and rail transport constraints limit the extent to which areas within Greater Brighton can legitimately be seen as part of a functional economic area; there are also challenges within the city in terms of local and community connections and accessibility.
• Businesses themselves still sometimes struggle to access consistent support to enable them to grow and access new markets.

Combined, these factors are having a significant influence on the productivity and competitiveness of Brighton and Hove’s economy, on the type of work available for our residents and on day-to-day life experience.

Brighton and Hove at a glance

1. The Brighton and Hove economy comprises 140,000 jobs and 16,000 businesses. The economy has experienced strong growth in recent years: 14,300 jobs have been created since 2011, and there are 2,700 more businesses in the City compared to 2012.
2. Despite this, the pool of jobs in the city is comparatively small: there are only 0.8 jobs in the city for every economically active resident.
3. Partly reflecting this, there is a net daily outflow of workers from Brighton and Hove of more than 5,000 people; the majority of these commute elsewhere in the city region (48 per cent) or to London (25 per cent).
4. Productivity levels are currently comparatively low at around £65,000 per annum; this is lower than across the City Region and competitor cities such as Reading, Milton Keynes and Cambridge.
5. The city is home to an enterprising economy: there were 2,100 business start- ups in 2015, and the city is home to a greater concentration of homeworkers than any other UK city.
6. There are around 57,000 knowledge economy jobs in Brighton and Hove, representing around 41 per cent of the total economy.
7. Brighton and Hove has a strong and rapidly growing ICT and digital sector. The sector now supports nearly 1,500 businesses and 6,800 jobs, having grown by over 40 per cent over 5 years.
8. Tourism continues to be an important driver of the Brighton and Hove economy: the sector supports around 1 in 5 jobs in the city, and expenditure of around £860 million.
9. Brighton and Hove’s two universities support a student population of over 35,000.
10. Brighton and Hove is one of the strongest performing UK cities for service exports, equating to around £12,000 per job, lower only than London and Edinburgh.
11. Brighton and Hove has experienced rapid population growth of around 13 per cent over the past decade, and now is home to more than 1 in every 3 people in the city region.
12. The city’s labour force is characterised by strong qualifications levels; half of working age residents have a degree level qualification, compared to around 38 per cent nationally.
13. Brighton and Hove continues to be an attractive location; there was a net inflow of 3,800 international migrants in 2016, and it attracts the second highest number of internal migrants leaving London.
14. While earnings levels for Brighton and Hove’s population are higher than average, earnings of those working in the city are comparatively low. The earnings gap between these two groups is around £3,000.
15. Brighton and Hove is characterised by a large number of workers who are either in part – time or non- permanent employment.  Around 37 per cent of residents are in part time jobs.
16. Unemployment in Brighton and Hove is higher than average and the city is characterised by comparatively high levels of youth unemployment (a rate of around 16 per cent).
17. There have been nearly 100 commercial to residential permitted development applications in Brighton and Hove since 2014, the 7th highest figure for all local authority areas outside London.
18. Brighton and Hove has one of the lowest levels of housing affordability of all UK cities, with the average house price nearly 11 times the average salary.
19. Brighton and Hove has the 4th best provision of ultrafast broadband of all UK cities.
20. Brighton and Hove is home to a strong civil society, with around 2,300 third sector organisations and 6,900 people working in the third sector.

 

2. Has sufficient research been conducted to provide robust analysis of the economic and social health and vitality of seaside towns? What are the main conclusions to be drawn from such data and research – and where are the principal gaps in knowledge and understanding?

Please see the following strategies on the council’s website

City Plan Part 1
Draft City Plan Part 2 Consultation
Visitor Economy Strategy 2018-23
Economic Strategy 2018-23

 

3. To what extent are seaside towns affected by issues arising from the nature of their housing stock, including houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and former tourist accommodation that has been converted for other uses? How might any such issues be addressed – and are any changes to government policy required?

The provision of shared rental accommodation by private landlords, for both students and other groups, makes a valuable contribution to the city’s housing requirements.

HMOs are an important source of lower cost flexible housing to lower income / working households many of whom are graduates who stay in the city for their first jobs and/or employees who work in the lower paid tourist/leisure retail sectors.

In the city it is anticipated that we have approximately 5,000 HMOs.

Licensing of larger HMOs through national mandatory licensing have brought about improvements in both the management and quality of HMO accommodation.

Furthermore the council have introduced Additional Licensing Schemes for smaller HMOs in the city due to concerns over management and standards.

Health inequalities were also identified in our evidence base reflecting tenant experiences with more traditional HMO / bedsit accommodation in the city.

Again additional licensing has brought about improvements in management and quality of these homes.

However, HMOs can also have an impact on residential amenity and the character and housing mix of an area.

A number of residential communities within Brighton and Hove have expressed concerns over the impacts of HMO concentrations.

Problems identified have included
• Poor waste management
• A shift from permanent family housing to more transient accommodation
• A reduction in the choice of housing available in the city
• Breakdown in social cohesion
• Noise and disturbance associated with the intensification in the residential use of properties/or the lifestyle of occupants

To minimise impacts on residential communities the council has sought to restore the need for planning permission for houses to be converted to small HMOs, through the use of Article 4 directions, which has been in place since 2013.

The direction has been made in areas where the concentration of HMOs are highest (five wards in the Lewes Road area of the city) and where impacts on residential amenity are most pronounced.

This is in place in a number of locations where students will want to live, particularly in areas close to or with good transport links to the universities.

The government has consulted on and has enacted an expansion of mandatory licensing of larger HMOs and appears to be looking at further regulation of the private rented sector.

Given our experiences this would be broadly welcome, albeit concerns have been raised in our licensing consultation exercises about potential future impacts on overall housing supply, although we have no evidence of this to date.

 

4. Do population transience, and demographic changes more widely, present any particular issues for seaside towns and communities? What is the nature and scale of such issues, and how can local organisations and communities be assisted in seeking to address them?

Rough sleeping is unevenly distributed across the country, and it has increased not only in large cities, but in many different areas. Almost half (48 per cent) of the people identified as sleeping rough in England on a single night in 2017 were in London and the south east.

Urban areas have seen the largest increases since 2010, although numbers in rural areas have also increased. Some seaside towns have also seen large increases in the number of people sleeping rough.

The rate of people sleeping rough (the local figure divided by the resident household population) provides a more comparable estimate between areas. In autumn 2017, the rate of people sleeping rough per 10,000 households was for England, 3.1 for London, and 1.8 for the rest of England.

The scale and locality of the issue can be seen in the map.

 

Rough sleeping rates per 10,000 households
 

 

Image Rough sleeping rates per 1,000 households colour colded

 

Transport and connectivity

5. Do problems relating to transport and connectivity (including digital connectivity) present a barrier to economic growth for seaside towns and communities? What action has been taken to address such matters, and is any further government action required? To what extent would addressing such issues create the opportunity for future inward investment and growth?

Effects of congestion on productivity and economic competitiveness

There are already large movements of employees within the coastal area, but congestion is holding businesses back and affects existing employees. The average delay on the city’s A roads is over double that of South East England and the 60 minute drive-time to the west of the city centre is only 12.5 miles (to Worthing) at peak times.  This significantly reduces the area’s attractiveness to businesses and future investors; impacts on productivity; reduces the retention of staff, and limits growth.

Congestion on the city’s A roads is one of a number of issues that affect accessibility and connectivity. There are also rail issues impacting on connectivity to Gatwick and London, and east west coastal links remain undeveloped to support sustainable transport routes in both directions.

It is seen as important to protect and grow natural capital / green infrastructure in terms of green spaces, water quality, street trees, etc. whilst developing infrastructure links, particularly as consultation has highlighted a common perception that the identity of the city is being adversely impacted by weaknesses in the quality of the public realm and environment.

Natural barriers to growth

The Greater Brighton urban coastal strip is a place where people want to live, work and visit. Managing these fluctuating daily demands for movement in a constrained, historic and built-up area with its 180° sphere of influence is a significant challenge.

The natural barriers of the sea and South Downs limit transport capacity, channelling intra-city movement along a handful of corridors in the narrow, linear coastal strip.

This places greater reliance on a smaller number of corridors than a 360° city, so alternative route choices are severely limited.

This congestion also places great challenges on any further development, and especially impacting upon the city’s most important regeneration project, the Waterfront project.

Importance of transport links to seafront regeneration

The Waterfront project is projected to deliver over £540 million of investment to the city, the majority from the private sector. It will protect and grow the city’s conferencing sector by replacing an out-of-date and ailing conference centre with a new facility, located 1.5 kilometres to the east, adjacent to the Brighton Marina.

Development risk and funding will come from the private sector, but without much-improved transport links to move conference delegates and events visitors at peak time, progress will halt and the final business case cannot be made.

Key seafront sites such as Madeira Terraces, Black Rock (location of the new conference centre) and  Kings West / Central (city centre) as well as the King Alfred are all dependent for their business cases on new transport links and enhanced intra-city links to move shoppers, conference delegates, leisure visitors and event visitors.

All these seafront sites will require new transport infrastructure in order to succeed, not all of which will be delivered by CIL or Section 106 payments.

Rapidly ageing and deteriorating highway infrastructure

Victorian infrastructure, increasing traffic levels and a coastal environment means investment in maintenance is fundamental to keeping the seafront operational and the city moving. With increasing deterioration of the seafront ‘arch’ structures which support the A259 corridor currently estimated at £100 million, ongoing investment is required to retain use of the main arterial coastal link road through the city. This also presents an opportunity to consider how these major works are designed and phased in, to link into the transport needs of strategic seafront sites.

Reduced levels of reliability and punctuality for public transport passengers

Brighton and Hove is considered to be one of Europe’s top 30 most congested cities. Between 2008 and 2016, there was a sharp increase in congestion levels affecting bus services.  Alternatives are limited; and goods and deliveries for industrial and domestic customers are also affected.

Limited capacity within wider communication and energy systems

Increasing the uptake of electric vehicle ownership and fulfilling growing demand for charging points is being inhibited by locally-limited capacity within the grid. The area’s transport system is also not ready to harness the transformational benefits that emerging 5G connectivity will have on the way people travel.

Harmful effects of pollution and emissions

Transport is the main cause of poor air quality, noise pollution and carbon emissions in our communities. Six Air Quality Management Areas for nitrogen dioxide exist as well as a number of noise pollution ‘hotspots’ (Important Areas).  Annual reductions in carbon emissions continue to lag behind the levels required to meet the 2050 target.

Local projects to support the seafront currently include

A259/King’s Road ‘Arches’: a major project to refurbish and strengthen sections of 125+ year old Victorian seafront arches which support the A259. Creation of new business premises within the arch structures where possible has allowed a new ‘creative retail quarter’ of artist and craft-based business units to be established.  This will also enhance the tourism offer for the area.

Valley Gardens Phases 1, 2 and 3: significant improvements to the public realm which will also improve traffic flow along the main A23 corridor and with the A259 at the seafront.

 

The role of the visitor economy

6. How successful have initiatives that seek to promote tourism and the visitor economy in seaside towns proven to be? How important are these sectors to the economies of seaside towns? Is sufficient attention being given to the potential contribution that could be made by other sectors, beyond tourism?

The visitor economy in 2016 was worth £886 million to the city of Brighton and Hove. In terms of scale this equates to 7.5 per cent of the total tourism economy of the south east region which geographically covers East and West Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight.

The total number of tourism day visitors equated to 9,627,000, with a day trip expenditure of £353 million, therefore the average spend of a day visitor equals £36.67.

Staying trips made by domestic overnight and overseas overnight visitors equated to 1,607,000 trips with overall nights spent in the city of 5,021,000 nights stayed. The domestic and overseas overnight visitors combined created a value of £533 million, with an average spend per 24-hour stay of £106.15.

Tourism supports in the city of Brighton and Hove 21,760 actual jobs which equates to 14 per cent of all employee jobs in the city.

The city has a distinctive heritage in relation to its people, architecture and social history. It provides a hook to use the heritage of the city more creatively and extensively and to reach out beyond the city to extend the heritage offer.

There are two aspects of the current Brighton brand which are thematic strengths and should be a focus for tourism. They will shape the priorities for leisure and business tourism – how it is developed and communicated. They work more widely for the city as a place to live and study too, and therefore have potential value for place branding.

• Culture – including heritage, the arts, architecture and events and festivals.
• Wellness – this is defined in the broadest sense and for Brighton and Hove means escape, fresh air, nature and good food.

The brand should be applied consistently, creatively and widely.  This means Visit Brighton always taking a brand-led approach to their marketing content, and everyone having a shared understanding about what it truly means to be a free-thinking city and the difference that makes to what they say, show and share … and how they say, show and share it.

The current brand materials also talk about “an independent spirit“ and “the story of alternative thought” as an extension of these ideas which need to be reflected in the experiences visitors have in the city and in how things are communicated using emphasis, language, tone and style in all media channels.

Experiences

The city needs to use its assets to create experiences that bring to life this ‘free-thinking city’ and make it mean something to visitors. The focus will be on experiences that are led by Culture and Wellness. For example, that could include developing experiences connected with Wellness in the National Park, on the seafront, connected with the Biosphere, about vegan and vegetarian places to eat. These experiences should immerse visitors in the “real” Brighton; help them build a relationship with the city and encourage them to stay longer.

Brighton and Hove already has a rich choice of experiences, but they need to be much better packaged, presented and promoted to visitors. There is also potential to develop more engaging experiences that help to roll out the brand values and provide reasons for visitors to stay longer. That requires getting small tourism and cultural businesses working together. Visit Brighton will facilitate and support new business activity and collaboration. They will provide the business tools to help groups understand what they need to do to capitalise on tourism opportunities and how to take these experiences to market directly and via the travel trade.

The cultural experience is largely about small specialist venues and events and is therefore fragmented. Much of what makes Brighton and Hove a cultural city is its creative businesses which are not part of the visitor experience, though they create a colourful backdrop and a demand for creative, specialist and alternative shops, places to eat and entertainment that are part of the visitor experience. That makes it essential to take an experience-led approach to opening up the cultural offer of the city.

Brighton and Hove has a varied seafront. Much more could be made of drawing out the range of experiences through combining seafront and city centre experiences together, around wellness and culture, to integrate the seafront and city centre in the minds of the visitor and encourage visitors to explore more of the seafront.

 

Physical regeneration

7. Are sufficient tools and resources available to local authorities, property owners and other stakeholders to allow them to promote and deliver the restoration and regeneration of the physical environment in seaside towns? Could new approaches – or the removal of any existing barriers – support further regeneration?

The council has been pursuing a land deal with a private investor (Aberdeen Standard Investments) to redevelop two out of the three remaining key strategic seafront sites (Brighton Central and Black Rock) in a linked land deal.  This will provide a 10,000 seat multipurpose venue for the city to replace the outdated Brighton Conference Centre and utilise the existing conference centre site (Waterfront Central) to provide a new seafront-facing leisure and retail destination. This will also reconnect the city centre to the seafront and transform two highly important areas of central and eastern seafront with all the regenerative benefits this brings.

To unlock the final business case, a Tax Incremental Finance model will be required to allow ring-fencing of 50 per cent of future business rates, realised from the redevelopment of the Waterfront Central site.

The Tax Incremental Finance model which supports the above business case will need to be agreed as part of a bespoke deal with Government.  If early dialogue allows this to be agreed as part of the next phase of the Waterfront project, this will underpin the business case for the project and ultimately secure the future of conferencing and events for the city, an aspiration and priority for over 20 years.

 

9. What role should local businesses, SMEs and social enterprises play in seeking to deliver regeneration in seaside towns? How effective is any help currently provided to these groups by the government, local authorities and others? Are there any barriers to growth that could be addressed by changes in policy?

Businesses have an important role to play in local regeneration. The emerging Brighton and Hove Economic Strategy was jointly commissioned by the city council and the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership which acts as the voice for business on the economy.

The strategy included extensive consultation with the business community including two events attended by over 200 people along with over 50 one-to-one and group interviews with key stakeholders from the private public and third sector ensuring that the strategy truly reflects local needs and priorities.

The Brilliant Brighton Business Improvement District is bringing around £1.8 million of private sector investment into the city centre over 5 years. The BID works in partnership with the council to promote the Brighton’s eclectic and unique retail and leisure offer.

Brighton and Hove works closely with the local Chamber of Commerce and supports their Brighton Living Wage campaign, the only chamber-led campaign in the UK.

The council has signed the Federation of Small Business Accord and the Council Leadership meets regularly with the FSB to look at local issues that affect businesses such procurement.

The government earmarked a modest amount of funding via the Coastal Communities Fund to urge seaside towns to create coastal communities teams and ensure that local people and businesses are able to influence regeneration. £10,000 was awarded to help create a new seafront economic plan setting out the cities regeneration priorities, programmes and projects and to set up a coastal communities team to ensure bottom-up local influence in decision making.

As an initial tool to kick-start the process of developing a plan the modest amount of funds awarded was useful however, the level of government investment will need to be significantly higher if the meaningful engagement and the active involvement of SMEs in local regeneration is to be maintained.

Businesses are generally happy to engage in one-off consultation but ongoing involvement in regeneration activities such as membership of a coastal communities team is more challenging unless there are direct investment opportunities that will help their business and the local economy.

 

11. Is there evidence to suggest that certain health conditions are more prevalent in seaside towns? What factors might contribute to levels of poor health in coastal areas? Would any targeted interventions help to address any such issues in these areas?

Brighton and Hove have worse than average outcomes in common with many other seaside towns for drug related (heroin and/or morphine) deaths and suicide.

Heroin/morphine misuse deaths

• Reference ONS report, April 2018: More than half of heroin/morphine misuse death hotspots in England and Wales are seaside location.
• Six of the 10 local authority districts in England and Wales with the highest rates of heroin- and/or morphine-misuse deaths are coastal holiday resorts.
• Blackpool is the local authority with the highest rate of deaths by heroin or morphine misuse (14.0 deaths per 100,000). The other coastal towns included in the top ten towns with the highest rates are Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Hastings, Thanet and Swansea.  There is a link to deprivation: Blackpool is the fourth most deprived area out of 326 district and unitary authorities.
• The rate of deaths by misuse of heroin or morphine in Brighton is 3.5 per 100,000, ranked 34th out of 248 local authorities (2016).
• Drug related deaths are reviewed and the learning informs local practice. Rates have fallen significantly from when Brighton and Hove was ranked highest for drug misuse deaths during 2009 – 2011 at 9.1 per 100,000.

Suicide

• High rates of suicide: Brighton and Hove has had a higher rate of deaths from suicide than England for the past century and is currently ranked 5th out of 149 local authorities, with a suicide rate of 14.4 per 100,000. Although still high this rate has fallen from 18.9 per 100,000 people in 2001-03. Other coastal areas in the top ten highest local authorities (for suicide) include Cornwall (16.1 per 100,000), Blackpool (16.0 per 100,000), Southampton (14.2 per 100,000) and Torbay (14.1 per 100,000). The majority of deaths by suicide take place at home; however, mapping suicides in public places has identified the Brighton and Hove seafront as a high-risk area, with 27 deaths of 48 overall (2006 – 2014).
• The city has a local strategy and an annual action plan to prevent suicides. The history of high suicide rates has led to local investment in prevention initiatives including training for seafront staff in suicide prevention.
• The link between coastal towns and cities and high suicide rates appears to be closely associated with deprivation rather than simply seaside location. In an ONS report on suicide trends and geographical variation (2006) they found that suicide rates in both men and women living in the most deprived areas were double those in the least deprived.

 

Opportunities to improve health and wellbeing related to our coastal location

Arts, culture and the coast are inextricably linked and contemporary arts and culture have helped to reinvigorate many coastal towns following the decline of traditional tourism.

Arts and culture provision in Brighton and Hove is one of the city’s key strengths.  Participation in and enjoyment of arts and cultural activities have a growing role in improving health and wellbeing and keeping people well. Creative Health, the 2017 report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, concluded: “Arts-based approaches can help people stay well, recover faster, manage long-term conditions and experience a better quality of life”.

The arts can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing in several different ways

• As a social determinant of health, good access to arts and culture influences wellbeing across the whole population
• The arts can have a role in improving awareness of health conditions, telling the story of those affected, reducing stigma and influencing attitudes
• Engagement with the arts can prevent ill health – for example, music can enhance mood and reduce stress and anxiety
• Participation in the arts can influence our lifestyle – for example, dance, theatre and music can increase physical activity
• For those already unwell, the arts can improve symptoms – for example dance can be helpful for those with Parkinson’s disease

 

In Brighton and Hove this year’s annual report of the director of public health is focusing on the role of arts and culture to improve health and wellbeing. The report has highlighted some excellent local examples and case studies across four stages of life: starting well, living well, ageing well, and dying well. It also highlights the need to ensure that access and participation are prioritised so that unequal access does not contribute to health inequalities.

Brighton and Hove ranks highly as an active city where the latest data reports 78 per cent of the adult population as being physically active, over 10 per cent higher than the south east and national averages.

Good food is important in our coastal city, which is a popular tourist and visitor destination but Brighton and Hove faces both challenges and opportunities when it comes to healthy food. The challenges include the high number of fast food takeaways near to the city centre and tourist locations.

Local recent innovative work to try and improve residents’ awareness of the amount of sugar in our food includes the local Sugar Smart initiative. This was launched in October 2015 to help address our sugar consumption, up to 2 to 3 times the nationally recommended amount. The initiative has now been taken up by many other towns and cities across the UK.

The Living Coast, our local UNESCO biosphere provides good opportunities to lead a healthier and more sustainable life by the sea, in the city and in the downs that surround Brighton and Hove.  There are many physical and mental health benefits to be gained from physical activity, recreation and time spent in open and green spaces and the seafront is utilised locally as an asset for promoting healthy lifestyles.

 

12. What impact has the Coastal Communities Fund had upon seaside towns and communities? Are any further targeted interventions from government required?

The council regularly bids for all available funding to support projects and infrastructure within the city and has had some success with the Coastal Communities Fund, notably Saltdean Lido. A recent bid to the Transforming Cities Fund from the Greater Brighton City Region was unsuccessful despite a bid with a coastal focus which would have also addressed some of this Select Committee’s areas of interest. The evaluation criteria for the Coastal Communities Fund fails to acknowledge the wider benefits of regeneration projects beyond direct employment. With a lack of alternative funding streams local authorities are limited in the types of project that they can take to funders. Coastal towns such as Brighton and Hove which are rich in the nation’s heritage have a disproportionate responsibility to secure its future. Cities such as Brighton and Hove have been increasingly creative in responding to this challenge but ultimately, with diminishing public funds there are limits to what councils can deliver.

 

14. Are there fiscal or financial measures available which could help to support the regeneration of seaside towns? Could the Government provide any financial freedoms or investments which would help to generate positive change?

Please see Question 7 which explains how and why a Tax Incremental Finance model, agreed as part of the Waterfront project, would support significant and wide ranging economic and social improvements for the city.

 

15. What role should local people and local communities play in the regeneration of seaside towns and communities? Do good processes of community engagement, and community resilience and capacity building, currently exist and, if so, could they be applied more widely?

The council’s pioneering approach to engaging with and delivering for its communities was demonstrated by its successful crowdfunding campaign for Madeira Terrace in 2017 which exceeded its target of £400,000, achieving a fund of £463,947 within 6 months.

The total included more than £16,500 raised via a raffle organised independently by committed local individuals. Individuals (the public) accounted for 21 per cent of the total value of pledges and nearly 97 per cent of the number of overall pledgers. This reflects the deep level of engagement the campaign had with the public. The average (mean) individual pledge was £46.

Brighton and Hove is known for the strength of its civil society. There is direct engagement in local decision making through a range of fora including Brighton and Hove Connected, the city’s local strategic partnership.

In fact, the 2013 Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for the voluntary and community sector notes that Brighton and Hove has the second largest voluntary and community sector in England.

In 2014, there was an audit of the third sector in Brighton and Hove called Taking Account 3. Again, it found that there is a very active third sector in the city. There were approximately 2,300 third sector organisations in Brighton and Hove. Alongside this, there were 6,900 people working in the third sector, with a ratio of four volunteers to each paid member of staff.

The estimated income of the third sector in Brighton and Hove was around £73 million per year, with much of it spent on local projects. This additional benefit means that the third sector contributed around £127 million per year, which accounted for 2.2 per cent of the total economy.

These volunteers donated 110,400 hours per week to third sector organisations (which is an average of 16 hours per volunteer). If these volunteers were paid the Living Wage for their work, their donated time would have been worth £44 million per year.

Brighton and Hove also has a high proportion of residents giving unpaid help; 51 per cent of residents have volunteered over the past 12 months in Brighton and Hove, with 13 per cent of residents volunteering at least once a week. This is compared with the 37 per cent of the national population that has volunteered in the past 12 months.

People in Brighton and Hove are very engaged in the community and show a great community spirit. Recent City Tracker data showed that many feel that they can affect local decisions. 18 per cent of residents have had direct involvement in local decision-making over the last 12 months, compared with 8 per cent nationally.

While only a minority have a direct involvement, there is a feeling among residents that they are able to influence decisions affecting the area. 50 per cent of residents believe they can have an effect, compared to 27 per cent nationally.

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