Bishop & Sewell

As someone who’s always been interested in placemaking, and contractors and investors who place sustainability at the heart of their projects, my attention was certainly taken by a headline that Human Nature intend to create the UK’s ‘most sustainable development,’ , writes Thom Wilkinson, a Partner in our Property and Environmental Law team.

Featured here on video, The Phoenix located on a former industrial site within the South Downs National Park, will be according to its developers the UK’s largest timber neighbourhood, with 685 homes, an electric car sharing hub, public squares and gardens, dedicated community buildings (including a low-cost canteen) and a site-long river walk.

Human Nature, is a campaigning development company that designs, builds and manages sustainable places. The Lewes-based company, which was founded by former Greenpeace directors Michael Manolson and Jonathan Smales, promotes “exponential sustainability”, making it easy and enjoyable for people to live sustainably and well.

Human Nature’s in-house design team, design agency Periscope, Ash Sakula Architects, Mole Architects and Arup have created plans that embed circular economy principles throughout. The project has been designed to address a “whole-place carbon footprint”, including emissions caused by transport and human behaviour. This is in addition to operational and embodied carbon.

The Phoenix’s buildings will be made from engineered timber including cross-laminated timber, with prefabricated units made from local timber and biomaterials such as hemp. Where possible, existing materials from the site’s industrial past, including cladding, steel trusses, bricks and buttresses, will be salvaged and repurposed.

The site also intends to meet “radical affordability goals” for residents. This will be achieved by on-site recycling, waste management and composting facilities, an urban-farming and community gardening strategy, and a renewable energy system set to enable 10–20 per cent reductions in residents’ energy bills.


Contact our Property Team

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article, please do get in contact, quoting ref CB456. Thom Wilkinson is a Partner specialising in Property and Environmental Law and is contactable on: +44 (0)20 7692 7581 or

At Bishop & Sewell, we have more than 40 years’ experience in property with a particular focus on Landlord & Tenant.  If you are thinking of buying a leasehold property, or if you already own a leasehold property and you have a question about obtaining a consent to alterations that you are planning please call 020 7631 4141 and ask for a member of the Property team, or email

The above is accurate as at 02 April 2024. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 2nd Apr 2024

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