Read in The Argus of 24 September 2015:


Samer Bagaeen, teaching planning at the University of Brighton, showed me the local newspaper. In The Argus of last Thursday there were at least three pages on new high-rise initiatives in Brighton, UK. In ‘Building upwards is the way to go to meet housing crisis – but it can still look good’, Bagaeen is interviewed on the local housing crisis. He is one of the experts telling the readers that ‘the only way to go is up’. Geoffrey Mead of the University of Sussex adds: “The Dutch put something like five times as many people in their cities.” Some seven years ago the American architect Frank Gehry proposed a series of new tower blocks near the waterfront, worth 300 million pounds, but because of the financial crisis nothing came out of it. Bagaeen thinks projects like these are still needed. Brighton, south of London, is growing fast. There is no land for extension, but people need affordable housing. There are more than 20.000 households on the city council’s waiting list and an estimated housing need of 24.000. Brighton should be densified.

Brighton is a city of 250.000 inhabitants on the South coast of England, not far from London. The coastal region has beauty, the climate is gentle, everything looks nice. In many ways Brighton is a small version of the British capital city: low density, large parks, attractive neigborhoods, and a booming economy. You might compare it to Haarlem near Amsterdam. As a touristic beach resort it is transforming itself into a creative high-tech hub. Lots of people have moved from expensive London to Brighton, many are commuters now, the housing market is overheated, traffic congestion on the roads to London is an issue. Brighton, experts say, should densify. At the ‘Connect’ conference, organized by Austen Hunter and Jenni Lloyd, some eighty citizens focused, instead, on the identity of Brighton. They asked me to give a lecture. The outcome? Brighton’s identity should not get lost. But there is room for improvement. Many things can be done. People are willing to help. Let them. Connect them. Empower them.





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