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Planning Permission Granted for the UK’s Most Sustainable Neighbourhood

Planning Permission Granted for the UK’s Most Sustainable Neighbourhood
27 February 2024

A 7.9-hectare brownfield site in East Sussex will be transformed into the UK’s most sustainable neighbourhood.


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The Phoenix is a walkable development within the South Downs National Park, and it will be the UK’s largest timber neighbourhood, with 685 homes, an electric car sharing hub, public squares and gardens, dedicated community buildings (including a low-cost canteen) and a site-long river walk. 

The development is the brainchild of Human Nature, a campaigning development company that designs, builds and manages sustainable places. The Lewes-based company, which was founded by former Greenpeace directors Michael Manolson and Jonathan Smales, promotes “exponential sustainability”, making it easy and enjoyable for people to live sustainably and well. 

Human Nature’s in-house design team, design agency Periscope, Ash Sakula Architects, Mole Architects and Arup have created plans that embed circular economy principles throughout. The project has been designed to address a “whole-place carbon footprint”, including emissions caused by transport and human behaviour. This is in addition to operational and embodied carbon.

The Phoenix’s buildings will be made from engineered timber including CLT (cross-laminated timber), with prefabricated cassettes made from local timber and biomaterials such as hemp. Where possible, existing materials from the site’s industrial past, including cladding, steel trusses, bricks and buttresses, will be salvaged and repurposed.

The site also intends to meet “radical affordability goals” for residents. This will be achieved by on-site recycling, waste management and composting facilities, an urban-farming and community gardening strategy, and a renewable energy system set to enable 10–20 per cent reductions in residents’ energy bills.

Picture: an artist's impression of the shared courtyard at The Phoneix, showing spaces for residents to convene. Image Credit: Image courtesy of  Human Nature and Periscope. Sketch by Carlos Penálver. 

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 27 February 2024


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