KING Alfred developer Rob Starr has made reassurances the major project is on track, amid post-Brexit jitters in the construction industry which has his commercial partner lose 30 per cent of its share price.

Mr Starr said “everyone was carrying on as they were” following the referendum vote, with King Alfred homes builder Crest Nicholson now rallying from its initial crash.

The chairman of the Starr Trust charity admitted his lack of development background was "curious to some" - but explained how he was inspired to pursue the project by the memory of his late father, who would insist that anyone could achieve their dreams.

Speaking at the Brighton and Hove Business Club, he said: “Housebuilders are saying they are not taking on any new projects because they don’t have crystal ball – but they are carrying on the work they are committed to.

"Brexit only has an affect if you let it. If enough people say it’s never going to happen, it’s never going to happen.

“I hope I can convince enough people to keep smiling and be happy about the project.”

Mr Starr said he anticipated a year of public consultation on the scheme to begin in September.

Builders should be on-site in October 2017 with the £40 million leisure centre to open late in 2019 and some 600 homes to follow.

Describing how he become involved to business leaders, Mr Starr said he had approached Brighton and Hove City Council about land near the King Alfred, which he wanted to build a £3 million new home for his charity.

Despite being frequently rebuffed, the then head of planning Martin Randall began to take him seriously and eventually invited him to enter a bid to build the new King Alfred.

Having worked with construction giant Bouygues before, Mr Starr approached the French company as a potential commercial partner – only for them to go behind his back and bid for the tender without him.

After being put in touch with housebuilder Crest Nicholson, he found support for his ambitious project - but only if he made it into the last five.

Out of 75 bids, only two were selected in a head to head - Bouygues and the Starr Trust.

He said it was his emphasis on the community elements which saw him win.

He said: “Bouygues’ bid was all about design, design, design.

“The council only wanted to know about the leisure centre, but I was also talking about what was going to happen there.

"A building without people is pointless. I want to know what it feels like.

“When eventually I got the call to say we had won, the council all if a sudden saying 'let's tell everyone about the community aspect'.”

The community aspect of the plans include free business pods for young entrepreneurs, who will go on to pay a share of their profits to support successors.

There will also be a 250-seater performance space for theatre, talks and music; a training kitchen for young chefs; and a building academy set up in partnership with Sir Rod Aldridge.

Mr Starr added: “It’s a bit crazy. I’ve spoken to so many people with dreams and you’ve got to take that first step.”