A building dubbed Brighton’s ugliest is set to finally be demolished by the end of the year – two years after developers were given planning permission and more than 30 years since it was last occupied.
First Base were given the green light to knock down Anston House in Preston Road in December 2016, and replace it with three 13 to 15-storey buildings containing shops, offices and 229 flats – just 30 of which will be affordable housing.
But negotiations over the levels of contributions and other agreements – known as Section 106 – took another year to finalise, and now soaring building costs are leading to further delays in signing a deal with a construction company.
But First Base says it is now hoping to start work this summer, and the building should be down by the end of the year.
The company’s spokeswoman Olaide Oboh said: “We got consent for the development in 2016, but it took a bit longer than we expected to finalise the Section 106 agreements – we got that about a year later.
“What we have been doing since then is trying to get construction prices. Costs have gone up significantly and in the south east costs have fluctuated a lot. We have been spending a lot of time with a lot of the big names and medium sized names and we hope to fix the costs very soon. Once we have done them we should be starting on the site.
“We’ve already started site clearance – getting vegetation out of the way and removing slow worms to a new home, all that’s underway, but the main thing is getting construction price and company sorted out.
“It will be this year and we hope it will be by the end of the summer.”
Part of the Section 106 agreement requires First Base to make an additional affordable homes contribution if after five years, the scheme has made more than the forecast 17% profit.
Of the 30 one and two bedroom flats designated as affordable, 17 will be rented and 13 shared ownership, with 10% of these wheelchair accessible. This is in line with the District Valuer’s 2016 assessment that if the council’s preference for 55% of the units to be rental was followed, it would only be financially viable to require 13% of the scheme’ total units to be affordable. If all affordable units were shared ownership, then the scheme could afford to set aside 20% units.
The council’s policy is to require a level of 40 per cent affordable housing for schemes of this size – but if the developer can demonstrate this is not financially viable, the amount can be negotiated down.
First Base is also required to make contributions of £592,664 for parks and leisure centres, £397,780 to local schools and nurseries, £125,115 to transport improvements, £69,900 to local employment and £120,000 on public art.