Brighton sells its housing opportunities with weekly tours of new communal hub

Potential buyers and renters shown around the site, which will also include a shul, restaurant, nursery and working space


Over two dozen prospective residents of Brighton’s soon-to-open community hub and housing development were shown around the site on Sunday in the first of a series of weekly tours.

BNJC (Brighton and Hove Jewish Community) is an innovative development incorporating housing, a new synagogue for Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation, a mikveh, a restaurant and café and a bakery and deli, plus space for a variety of educational and leisure activities.

To attract young families — a key target of the project — there will also be a nursery and a co-working area.

With 120 people on site daily to put the finishing touches to the building and a projected December opening, CEO Marc Sugarman is busily promoting the 45 units of mews houses and apartments.

“Nine stay with the shul [the partner in the project],” he explained. “Twelve have been sold or rented, a couple to people from the locality but mostly from London.”

Of the remainder, the idea is to sell the houses and rent the flats. Some properties may be held back as BNJC wants to offer stay-over accommodation for visiting groups — for example, a major London shul wants to run a Shabbaton for 200 people at the hub this winter.

“We’ll charge, but not as much as a hotel and there are the benefits of being on site.”

Sunday’s tour group was comprised primarily of locals, with around a third in their twenties.

“People were blown away by the mews show house,” Mr Sugarman reported. “A lot of them didn’t know what facilities we would have on site and the thought that’s gone into them.

“As the scaffolding comes down, you see how much space and light there is.”

Subsequent groups visiting the site will be from London, with an anticipated 50 guests a week. The original idea had been to arrange coach parties but it was decided that it would be more practical for people to travel independently, with expenses reimbursed.

To give out-of-towners a wider flavour of local life, BNJC is also offering visitors a tour of Jewish Brighton, encompassing communal sights and landmarks such as the pier and station, to which Jews have made a major contribution.

Mr Sugarman said that for those wishing to make a day of it by visiting a gallery or attending a concert, BNJC would “try to assist with tickets”.

Reflecting the aim of bringing in young people, one Sunday programme will be partnered with the PJ Library and there have also been discussions with the Union of Jewish Students and Moishe House.

“We recognise that moving is a big commitment so we are subsidising the nursery fees,” he added. “More Jews are coming to the city, even if it’s not reflected in shul memberships.”

The recent decision by Jewish Care to close its residential home in Brighton, Hyman Fine House, has caused upset within the community.

But although the focus at BNJC is on “bringing back young families, we want to help all sections”, Mr Sugarman stressed.

If the hub could potentially facilitate a Jewish Care presence of some sort, “that would be great”.

Meanwhile, bookings are being made for use of BNJC for a variety of purposes, from a group of visiting teenage Israeli leaders to a joint birthday celebration in December.

“I have told them it’s not guaranteed,” Mr Sugarman cautioned.

“We are taking a lot of bookings so please God we are open on time.”

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