The ArgusExion won't be empty for much longer (From The Argus)

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Archive - Thursday, 16 June 2005

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Exion won't be empty for much longer

It has stood empty for 1,419 days. But Exion 27, a modern glass-and-steel building in Hollingbury, Brighton, could at last be about to fulfil its destiny as a high-tech business centre.

Business leaders were confident the imposing structure would attract modern manufacturing or IT businesses to the city when it opened in July 2001.

It was the first office complex of its type to be built in Brighton and Hove and experts predicted it would play an important role in the city's economy.

But an unexpected and sharp downturn in the IT sector gave prospective tenants the jitters and turned the 28,000sqft building into a white elephant.

To make matters worse, a clause in the original planning consent said the upper floors had to be offices and the ground floor industrial space for manufacturing.

A prolonged campaign to loosen the usage restriction bore fruit in September last year when councillors allowed the building to be used solely for office purposes.

Now managing agents Stiles Harold Williams (SHW) have confirmed there are two possible tenants, each considering a move to take over the entire building.

Tim Hardwicke, from SHW, said: "We are in discussions with two parties at the moment and are hopeful that in the next two month or so we will have tenants for the site."

In 2003 the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership held one of its regular meetings in the building to highlight the inflexibility of the planning system.

Executive director Tony Mernagh said: "Unfortunately the building has become almost totemic of the failure of the planning system in Brighton and Hove in recent years.

"Once the building is occupied it should become a symbol of the turnaround and the more flexible approach to planning in the city.

"It is a fantastic building. The views are amazing, the access is superb and it really is about time someone took advantage of that."



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