Sussex Business News August Roundup

Despite continuing uncertainty over Brexit, Sussex businesses continue to thrive. Here’s our latest business news roundup for the region.

Brighton Councillor calls for More funding for South East

Demands for more money to be spent in the Brighton area as government and big business look north for investment

Greater Brighton Councillor Garry Wall has warned that continued government investment in the north, as well as big business eyeing up opportunities north of Watford, means that the regions to the south of London risk being overlooked economically.

Councillor Wall stated that a lack of spending and investment in areas such as infrastructure and transport, in addition to a major shortage of skills, meant that the region was underperforming and costing the government billions a year in lost revenue.

Wall added that there is an assumption that everyone in Brighton and the south coast is wealthy, or retired and living in comfortable seaside houses enjoying the better weather. He said this is simply not true and that people should not confuse Greater Brighton with London.

Councillor Wall was talking in reference to a recent decision that saw Brighton overlooked for the development of a new creative hub for Channel 4. The decision was made because Brighton was deemed to be too close to London. Channel 4 believed it wouldn’t create enough opportunities for people living in the Greater Brighton area.

Wall added that he would fight in order to get more funding for the Greater Brighton area.

Rise in Council House Sales in Lewes

The sale of council houses is increasing in Lewes according to figures released by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

The local authority sold a total of 14 council houses between April 2016 through to March 2017. This is an increase from five which were sold from 2011-2012.

Despite the sales, which were made under the Right to Buy system, the Local Government Association claimed that there was an immediate need to counter the trend in council house sales. It stated that more money should be spent on increasing the number of affordable houses.

The Right to Buy scheme was introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1980 with the aim of helping people renting council houses to buy the homes they were living in at a discounted rate.

Across the country in 2016-2017 tenants bought a total of 13,652 council houses. This was an increase in 1,100 on the previous year.

Local Government Association spokesperson Judith Blake said that the reduction in council houses meant that the government was spending too much on housing benefit in order to supplement rising rental costs rather than investing in affordable homes.

Across the country, roughly 29,000 people requested to purchase a house from housing association and council property stock. Only 18,100 successfully completed the purchase.

Sumo Group buys The Chinese Room

An award-winning development studio from Brighton has been purchased by Sumo Group for £2.2 million.

The Chinese Room which was formed in 2010 by Jessica Curry and Dan Pinchbeck is famous for creating games including Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, Dear Esther, So Let Us Melt and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.

The company and its games received a number of nominations and a visual art award for Dear Esther at the 2012 Independent Games Festival.

Dan Pinchbeck is now working for Sumo as a creative director for The Chinese Room. Jessica Curry, however, has decided to step aside preferring to continue working as a composer.

The Sumo Group CEO, Carl Caver said he was pleased with the acquisition, adding that he believed Dan Pinchbeck would add value to the firm thanks to his recognised creative abilities.

Uckfield Retail Extension Approved

Planners in the Wealden District have approved plans that will see an extension and redevelopment of The Seed House in Uckfield.

Located in Bell Lane, the building will undergo extensions to its ground and first floors that will see the space divided into two new shops in addition to a veterinary clinic. Three new flats will be built on the first floor as part of the development.

Claire Dowling from the local council argued against the application, stating that the redevelopment would result in a loss of parking spaces. However, Oliver Neagle, who put forward the planning application, claimed that the development would add crucial homes to Uckfield at a time when the borough was suffering from a housing shortage.

Initially, the scheme would have seen the loss of eight parking spaces, but following Councillor Dowling’s objections, three parking spaces were added, resulting in the loss of only five.

While Dowling acknowledged that there had been a creation of three parking spaces, she said that the loss of five would still have an impact on the traffic within the centre of Uckfield town.