Boxpark Brighton – The future for our iconic Madeira Terrace?

 

This summer Brighton residents, press and business owners were invited by Boxpark to discover their breathtaking plans to revive Brighton’s iconic Madeira Terrace into an internationally renowned beachfront retail leisure and hotel destination.

Boxpark is an innovative Brighton based retail and leisure development company specialising in creating unique entertainment spaces. Currently located in Shoreditch and Croydon, their trend-setting shipping container-based retail and leisure spaces have been turning heads and receiving international acclaim. Boxpark is set to open its latest site in Wembley Park in late 2018 and now has Brighton very much in it’s sights.


Having submitted the plans to Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton resident and Boxpark founder Roger Wade aims to revive the crumbling Victorian arches, and create a world class retail, leisure and start up office development, incorporating a new premium hotel operator. The development would include restoring 800m of arches and promenade, augmented with a new building and urban green spaces that would aim to substantially increase commercial performance in the area by creating hundreds of jobs and encouraging millions of tourists to Brighton and Hove.

Attending the big reveal was Paul Williams, Development Investment Advisor, Morgan Williams, who said: “Boxpark’s innovative and refreshing approach to the retail and leisure sectors will be a perfect match for this potentially iconic development. The development team assembled combines local sensitivity with international expertise. I have absolute confidence that we will secure strong investor interest from a wide range of UK institutions, property companies and international investors including sovereign wealth funds, many of whom may normally be constrained to investing in London.”

Roger Wade has developed the plans alongside Project Creator Paul Nicholson from Brighton founded Chalk Architecture and BDP who are one of the largest architectural practices in the world. They have worked extensively on public works buildings and Heritage schemes including Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, National Maritime Museum and are currently working on the House of Parliament project.

Paul Nicholson, Director, Chalk Architects said: “Further to developing a concept to save the Madeira Arches in 2015, we have had an ongoing constructive engagement with the local community about our ideas via our social media. In response to significant public interest the scheme has evolved over time into a dynamic proposal of new & enhanced public space wrapping around leisure, hospitality and commercial office use. Working with the Boxpark team has transformed the scheme into an exceptionally exciting prospect.”

Having attended the launch of these impressive proposals and been wowed by the sheer creative vision and honest intent to better Brighton’s beachfront whist maintaining communications and understanding with the stakeholders, Absolute Magazine were thrilled to be invited to speak with Brightonian Roger Wade and ask all those burning questions….

How did the Boxpark story all begin?

Boxpark built the world’s first pop-up mall out of shipping containers in Shoreditch in 2011, just in time for the 2012 London Olympics. Since then we’ve gone on to build our first food and drink development in Croydon in 2016 and we are now just about to launch our first fully indoor fan zone site at Wembley, opening on 8th December 2018

How would you describe the concept of ‘Boxpark’?

The Boxpark concept is built around the philosophy of Eat. Drink. Play – we want to create an unrivalled atmosphere for people to eat, drink and experience fantastic events and entertainment.

You revealed your vision for Boxpark Brighton to the city’s press and residents recently. How have you gone about consulting the public on what they would like to see for the future of The Madeira Drive arches?

We are currently in the public consultation stage and it’s important to engage with all major stakeholders of Madeira Terrace, including Brighton council, English Heritage, the Save the Madeira Terrace campaign, Victorian Society, and most importantly, the local resident. This summer we launched our plans for Madeira Terrace and the idea was to encourage public debate about what should happen to the future of Madeira Terraces. We’ve met with the council on several occasions and expressed our desire to redevelop Madeira Terraces but, as yet, the council are not looking for major development partners.

How did you feel the Boxpark Brighton concept was received?

The public’s response has been fantastic, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. I think the Absolute Magazine survey you posted on your Facebook page suggested there was a 90% public backing for the Boxpark Madeira Terrace proposal. We understand that some local organisations may have some concerns but we are taking those concerns on board and our aim is to galvanise all major stakeholders to support the scheme to regenerate Madeira Terraces.
If accepted, what are the likely timescales? We are so excited to see your vision become a reality!

At the moment, the council is exploring its own plans to develop Madeira Terraces. Our concern is the council estimates that the cost to renovate the arches alone will be nearly £30 million. At present, only £500,000 of crowd funding has been raised to meet this target. The council’s own Madeira Terrace plans say that they need a major development partner to get on board to raise the additional funds – we hope to be that major development partner.

The only major difference between the Boxpark plans and the council’s are that the council plans to put the volume of their building underneath the arches and we plan to put the volume of the building behind the arches. More importantly we plan to restore the arches back to their former glory. The total development size will be nearly 500,000 square foot, with over 300,000 square foot of new public spaces, including a new public park above our scheme on Marine Parade. I think we are in danger, unless we get a coordinated approach amongst major stakeholders and get a major development partner on board, of having another West Pier situation on our hands. We had lots of empty promises about future renovation projects but nothing was ever done to renovate the West Pier. In terms of time scales, unfortunately I’m unable to tell you when we can complete the project because at the moment the project is stalled and is waiting for the council to confirm their own plans. If Boxpark was given the go ahead, we, subject to consultation with major stakeholders, believe we could be up and running and start the project within the next couple of years. We’ve already had major interest from property funds and pension funds to back the scheme, and hotel, office space and retailers to join the scheme.

We understand you are a Brighton & Hove resident.  Are you Brighton born and bred or what was it about the city that lured you here?

I first lived in Brighton when I was a student back in the late eighties. I then moved my family to Brighton nearly twenty years ago and I’m currently a resident of Hove. What drew me to the city was that I’ve always loved the creativity and culture of Brighton. It’s a fantastic place and attracts great people from all over the country. I feel frustrated that when we look at the development of Brighton and Hove over the past couple of years, apart from the i360, the Amex and the redevelopment of the Marina, we haven’t seen major redevelopment of Brighton and Hove. I believe that we’ve got an opportunity to create a world class international beach front destination, bringing Brighton and Hove back to its former glory.

You are working on the project with Brighton-founded Chalk Architects. How was this partnership formed and was it by design that they originated in Brighton or was it coincidence?

We’ve worked with Chalk for the past three or four years. Paul approached me about his original residential plans for Madeira Terraces and asked me to get onboard. I agreed but only on the basis that we changed the scheme to a retail, leisure and office development.

The Madeira Terraces Project will certainly be pivotal in reviving the Brighton seafront. Aside from this, what would you like to see in the future, in terms of development for the city’s historic prom?

In the Victorian era, Brighton and Hove was renowned for its beach front development and I think we’ve got to get back to the ambition that the Victorians showed and really put Brighton and Hove back on the map. The reality is we’ve seen other major water front developments in towns like Liverpool, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Sydney, and Brighton and Hove has not had any major beachfront regeneration projects. My hope is to build a bigger, brighter, bolder Brighton, creating a major international tourist destination and encouraging more people to come and live and work in Brighton and Hove.

Boxpark have also been linked with Fatboy Slim and a beach front community cafe in Shoreham. What is the latest on the project?

We are working with Danny and Norman from Big Beach Café on a potential new project on Shoreham beach. I’ve known Danny for the last few years and used to sit next to Danny and Norman during football games at the Amex. Over football we discussed plans to build a potential new development for Big Beach Café – the Big Beach Box in Shoreham would be the realisation of these plans.


Brighton would be your first Boxpark outside of London. Is this the sign of things to come? Is Boxpark going to be cropping up in any other major UK cities in the near future and do you see yourself taking the concept abroad at all?

Boxpark is a niche retail development company specialising in leisure, food and drink developments. Our plan for Boxpark is to roll out 12 Boxparks throughout the UK in the next 5 years. The Madeira Terrace development would be produced by Boxpark but will not be branded a Boxpark development like the sites in Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley. The People’s Promenade will be our biggest development to date and will include office space as well as retail and leisure.

We will use all our expertise from our previous retail developments and apply this to the Madeira Terrace development. Our architects, BDP, have worked on major heritage projects including the Royal Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall and are currently working on the Houses of Parliament. They have lots of experience working on heritage projects similar to Madeira Terrace and we hope to enliven the Kemp Town beach front, connecting the beach front from the Brighton Marina to the Brighton Pier. We want to work with current occupiers like Concorde 2 and Yellow Wave to bring this area back to its former glory.