Approval given for the most eco-friendly community in the UK

The Phoenix Development Receives Planning Permission for UK’s Most Sustainable Neighborhood

One year after the proposal announcement for the ambitious transformation of a 7.9-hectare brownfield site into the UK’s most sustainable neighborhood, the Phoenix Development has been granted planning permission, marking a significant step towards turning the visionary project into reality.

Set to prioritize pedestrians over cars, the Phoenix will be a walkable, multi-use development situated on a former industrial site in Lewes, within the scenic South Downs National Park. The mixed-income, multi-tenure project will feature 685 homes, with 30% designated as affordable housing – comprising 154 homes at local housing allowance levels and the remainder as First Homes. This will provide a place for individuals to begin their journey in life and a community where residents can put down roots.

Once completed, the Phoenix will stand as the UK’s largest timber-structure neighborhood, serving as a model for sustainable placemaking and social impact that can be replicated on a larger scale.

The driving force behind this revolutionary project is Human Nature, a pioneering development company dedicated to creating intrinsically sustainable places that address climate, nature, and health crises. Co-founded by former Greenpeace directors Michael Manolson and Jonathan Smales, the Lewes-based company advocates for ‘exponential sustainability’, making sustainable living not only accessible but enjoyable for residents.

Collaborating with some of the country’s top architects, landscape designers, engineers, and local businesses, Human Nature aims to redefine sustainable placemaking by emphasizing social value and impact. The Phoenix was masterplanned by Human Nature’s in-house design team, regenerative design agency Periscope, and Kathryn Firth, director of masterplanning and urban design at Arup.

Commenting on the project, Jonathan Smales, Founder and CEO of Human Nature, expressed, “The current mainstream model of development is unsustainable and exacerbates societal issues. We believe that sustainable living can be enriching rather than restrictive, and we are excited to work with our exceptional team to create a breakthrough model with the Phoenix.”

Emphasizing the focus on enhancing environmental and social impacts through thoughtful placemaking, Smales added, “Our approach might be unconventional in modern Britain, but it resonates with the idea of creating a community rooted in tradition – featuring elegantly designed buildings, safe streets, and a vibrant atmosphere where neighbors can easily connect and socialize.”

The Phoenix Development is poised to set a new standard for sustainable living in the UK, showcasing innovative design, community-centric planning, and environmental consciousness at its core.

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