The south coast continues to attract people looking for a dose of the good life. Robert Smith of Hays Montrose reports on some of the projects in the pipeline

The construction and property market has always been robust on the south coast, but now it's seeing more money being channelled into it than ever before. "In Brighton alone there's always at least two or three major contracting projects drawing on the local labour pool," says Stuart Cullum, business director at Hays Montrose. "This is set to increase dramatically over the next year or two."

Long-awaited development is now under way on both ROK Build's £30m Brighton library and the train station project, which is to include a Sainsbury's supermarket, an English language learning centre, a hotel and 503 flats. Aden Star and John Sisk are just two of the contractors involved in the redevelopment.

Elsewhere in Brighton, Lewes Road's retail outlets are being overhauled, and Rydon Construction is building 200 apartments and a nightclub on West Street. Brighton and Hove council is looking for world-class architects to redesign the Brighton Centre, the city's prime venue for hosting concerts and conferences.

The centre is due to be demolished by the end of 2005 and will reopen, with leisure, housing and shopping facilities, in 2008. Brighton Marina, located off the South Coast Road linking Brighton to Rottingdean, is also set for extensive refurbishment. The 506,000 m2 marina (the largest in the UK) currently provides homes, a harbour, hotel, casino and shops. Parkridge Developments is spending £100m on a further five buildings and 1000 homes at the site. This is set to be completed by the end of this year.

"These projects are sucking up all available tradespeople in the area, and finishing foremen are desperately needed," says Steph Coombes, of Hays' Brighton office. "As always, there is a shortage of mid-level QSs, and the need for M&E and maintenance contractors will also be massive."

Two controversial projects which have been in the pipeline for years are Brighton's West Pier and Brighton and Hove Albion's football stadium. The West Pier Trust has finally chosen London-based St Modwen to restore the 1866 landmark to its former glory, with the project expected to cost £30m (see news feature, pages 18-21) . However, among other problems, the Heritage Lottery Fund has withdrawn between £14m and £20m of funding, pushing back the start date.

If the beleaguered project ever gets under way, demand for local technical professionals and trades will be great.

John Prescott is yet to deliver his decision on whether the planned £30-35 million refurbishment of Brighton's football stadium will go ahead. Despite support from many Brighton locals, there has also been a great deal of protest from residents.

Further west, affordable and social housing projects are dominating the scene. A £15m office block is being built in Hove by Warings, and £400m will be spent on redevelopment of the entire area.

In Hastings a new motorway and rail link to London will make the area ideal for commuters. "Loads of new housing is being developed in Bexhill and Hastings," confirms Coombes. The story is the same along the coast in Portsmouth and Southampton.

Frank Ashbee, a senior consultant at Hays, says: "I can't remember there ever being so many jobs going on at the same time on the south coast. We'll have our work cut out to find enough site and project managers to run many of these projects, and the trades and labour shortage is going to be a huge issue."