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Building affordable housing from the ground up - Revisiting Saltdean two years on!

 Background of a building site, with Building affordable housing from the ground up , infographic with site info, data detailed in article.

We first visited the Saltdean site within our affordable housing portfolio around 2 years ago, when it was just a muddy field on the edge of the South Downs, a few minutes outside Brighton.  This site is held in the Man Group community housing fund, to which we have committed £30m. 

On our previous visit the sun had been shining brightly and we were able to enjoy the beautiful countryside.  This time the site was shrouded in mist, but even this weather was not enough to disguise the amazing transformation that had been underway! 

Although the site is not scheduled to be fully finished until later in 2024, several homes are now close to completion, and with around 60 construction workers busy on site each day, the rest are not far behind.

Click below to enlarge the images: 

Photo collage of site visit before work started showing diggers clearing the site ready for construction to commence.
Construction site with team visiting the build.

About Saltdean

Saltdean is a mixed tenure development.  When complete, Saltdean will contain 71 houses, of which 83% will be affordable with the remaining 17% for market sale.  This mixture of different tenures contributes to social cohesion.  The split of the houses is shown below.  

Type of Tenure:

  • 42% Key worker rental
  • 23% Affordable rent
  • 18% Shared ownership
  • 17% Market Sale

Number of bedrooms:

  • 4 one bedroom properties
  • 14 two bedroom properties
  • 29 three bedroom properties
  • 24 four bedroom properties

There is a strong business case for this type of housing in this location. Most local affordable homes are flats, so this development addresses a gap in the market and increases the provision of family-friendly housing. 

Also, Brighton is an expensive place for accommodation.  The median house price to earnings ratio in Brighton is 12.4x, with an average house price of £434,000 in January 2024, far above the national average of £281,913.  And it's only getting more expensive - average rents in the area rose by 10.1% (well above the regional average) between January 2023 and January 2024.

The design and materials on the site are sympathetic to the origins of the development as a dairy farm, and the overall aesthetic of the national park outside. 

There will also be attractive communal areas, such as meadow planting, to promote a feeling of community.

Strong environmental credentials

Due to Man Group's early involvement in this development, they have had the opportunity to influence design and focus on environmental innovations.

 Examples of the initiatives on site include:

  • Net zero homes for key workers (not yet constructed - we hope to visit next time!)
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Solar panels for every rented home
  • Monitored bird and bat boxes for biodiversity
  • Sedum roofs for the car ports
  • Communal EV charging

Click below to enlarge the images: 

Air source heat pump, located outside of a property.
Building site with partially completed residential homes fitted with solar panels.
Building site with partially completed terraced residential homes and solar panels.
Interior fitted kitchen

There is obviously an additional cost in installing things like solar panels, and while the environmental benefits are clear, we were also keen to understand the business case.  In Man Group's view, properties with improved environmental credentials are an all-round winner, benefiting people, the planet, and profit.

Infographic of benefits, people, planet, profit, Data listed in article.

On our tour, we looked inside three partially completed properties, including one which had been specifically adapted to be accessible to wheelchair users.  All the properties had been constructed with a high-quality finish and had high ceilings and large windows looking out on the surrounding landscape, creating an airy and spacious feel.


Despite the misty backdrop on our recent visit, it was clear on site that there is a strong commitment to delivering a sustainable community that enhances the quality of life for its residents. This development demonstrates that by investing in these types of assets, we can earn the returns we need alongside delivering a positive impact for both people and the planet.  As construction pushes ahead, we look forward to returning in due course to see the completed development!

Infographic detailing site information, 71 homes, mixed tenure development, environmental initiatives, 8% target return.


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