A recent weekend saw a hub of activity down on Madeira Drive with Sea Lanes playing a key part; Extinction Rebellion were holding workshops, yogis enjoyed early morning yoga, sea swimmers made the most of the warmer water and some enjoyed a dip in between saunas. The summer pop up was a hive of activity with the backdrop of the London to Brighton bike ride finish line and teeming with triathletes have just finished down the road at Hove Lawns. People of all shapes and sizes clustered together on this beautiful part of Brighton’s seafront, steeped in heritage and reactivated through Brighton & Hove City Council’s (BHCC) strategy of events and meanwhile use.
It has been a few years since Sea Lanes won BHCC’s competition to build an open air swimming pool on Brighton beach. Delivering it would be easy if it wasn’t so hard! (don’t worry this isn’t another blog about the planning system – quite the opposite in fact).
Regeneration is complex and deals with a number of intertwined systems that must all function and align to ensure delivery. Sea Lanes is quickly becoming a best practice example of a strategic approach to redevelopment through meanwhile use, with valuable lessons learnt along the way.
The summer pop up has allowed fledgling business such as the Beach Box Sauna to ripen from humble beginnings at the Brighton Festival to a thriving seafront attraction. Local collaboration with Save Madeira Terraces has added support to the campaign and brought the issues to the attention of new audiences. Jobs have been created and the space has allowed pop up food vendors to experiment with their latest creations. Sea Lanes swim coaching and Swim Gym are cultivating a health and wellbeing culture and community onsite.
The pop up experiment, while there remains a long way to go to deliver the 50m pool, has proven that reactivation can be done simply, quickly and effectively and support the creation of more interesting, cohesive and ultimately authentic urban environments. Validating the strategic approach to regeneration outlined in the Madeira Drive Regeneration framework with a less prescriptive more flexible approach to development paying dividends.