Planners reject Hove eco-homes

Posted On 22 Feb 2012 at 5:50 pm

Plans for a green housing scheme at the Hove end of Shoreham Harbour have been thrown out by planners.

The Portzed scheme in Basin Road North would be bulky, intrusive and overbearing, according to planning officer Guy Everest.

The scheme would also affect the level of light enjoyed in the homes opposite in Kingsway, members of Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee were told.

A proposal to include wind turbines between the six buildings that were proposed for the sight also attracted concern although the applicant, Harbour View Developments, had offered to withdraw these.

Colin Brace, from Harbour View, said afterwards: “Naturally we are disappointed. We have listened very carefully to what members of the planning committee and our neighbours have had to say.”

He said that he was determined to come back with proposals that would both prove acceptable and be an exemplar of sustainable development.

He was concerned that a government grant of £500,000 for a green business hub and visitor centre on the site would be put at risk by the planning committee’s decision.

But he vowed to do everything possible to keep the funding in place and push for the dozens of related jobs at the site and in the port that would flow from the Portzed scheme.

He did not rule out an appeal which would be decided by an independent planning inspector.

Earlier Mr Everest told the planning committee: “The sustainable credentials are welcomed and would set a benchmark for the future development of Shoreham Harbour.

“The economic benefits of the proposal are recognised but those benefits alone do not justify approval.”

Objector Valerie Paynter said that the developer should work with the port authorities to resite the six proposed buildings elsewhere in the harbour.

She said: “The scheme is not without merit. The rush to produce the first zero carbon development is exciting but it’s not a planning consideration and must not colour judgment.”

The scheme included 67 flats, including 26 “affordable” homes, and new premises for the Magnet showroom along with parking for customers and residents.

Architect Bill Dunster said: “Be careful what you wish for.”

He said that the six proposed buildings had gaps between them, letting through air and light.

But, he said, the developer may need to put up a building with a solid frontage like the one approved by the council for Britannia House, the site next door, if the scheme was to remain viable.

Harbour View Developments had offered to lower the height of the end buildings of its scheme as well as forgoing the wind turbines as a way of trying to meet residents’ concerns.

The council said that the changes were too substantial so required a fresh planning application.

Les Robinson, representing the owners of Mackley Wharf, another neighbouring site, said that Portzed without the wind turbines “would be like Hamlet without the prince”.

Conservative ward councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn told the meeting at Hove Town Hall: “It’s totally out of scale.”

He praised the scheme’s green credentials but added: “I don’t believe an area should be sacrificed on the altar of green credentials.”

Labour ward councillor Anne Pissaridou called it a carbuncle, echoing Prince Charles’s remark about a proposed extension to the National Gallery in London.

Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas wrote a letter of support, describing the project as groundbreaking and innovative. Unusually Friends of the Earth also backed the scheme along with 41 individuals who wrote in to the council.

But 155 people sent letters of objection and 363 signed a petition opposing it.

Mr Everest told councillors that the proposals were shaped when the council and port wanted high-density housing on the site. He indicated that more recently there had been a change of heart.

Several councillors highlighted positive aspects of the design and praised its green credentials but opposed the size and scale. They voted unanimously to refuse permission.

Phelim Mac Cafferty, chairman of the planning committee, said: “Clearly we don’t want to turn down schemes which deliver sustainable homes.

“However, in this case there was too much in conflict and unresolved to be able to approve.

“There was real concern about potential problems with noise from the wind turbines.

“There are limits in how far we can go with the height and bulk of buildings.

“We cannot ignore the fact such a development would have a big detrimental effect on the neighbourhood.

“While we need green homes we can’t have them at absolutely any price – a price paid by the neighbours in this case.”

The scheme was designed by Hove architect Alan Phillips working with Bill Dunster, from Zed Factory, who designed the pioneering Bedzed scheme in Beddington, London.

The “zed” in Bedzed and Portzed stands for zero energy development.

  1. Jane Reply

    There has been a real feel-good atmosphere in this part of West Hove today. We are grateful to the planning committee councillors who have shown that they care about people. We know what a hard decision it was for them, but they recognised the severe damage that would have been done to the surrounding neighbourhood.

  2. terence motion Reply

    This decision is indicative of the flawed planning process we have in this country. Fraught with risk and uncertainty for the entrepreneurs, investors and developers who want to build new homes and employment space to create jobs in Brighton, Hove & Portslade and elsewhere in the UK. This particular planning application was submitted in December 2010, but it took the Council over a year to make a decision!

    Red tape and bureaucracy frustrate good projects like this and prevent economic growth; in my opinion, the developer should have been allowed to amend the scheme without having to withdraw the application, resubmit and wait for several more months whilst council officials debate the decision. ..

    Such delays cost landowners substantial sums of money and send out a message that this city is not one which works in partnership with developers to deliver growth. These extra costs have to be met from somewhere and will inevitably lead to the developer looking to save on the cost of the scheme which may ultimately risk the quality and integrity of the proposal. A further planning application will probably cost the developer an unnecessary five figure sum in the region of £50k.

    This decision may yet prejudice Brighton & Hove’s first true Zero Energy scheme; I sincerely hope that the developer is resilient enough to bounce back from this and can still produce a financially viable and deliverable scheme.

    With decisions like this, no wonder that Brighton & Hove City Council only delivered 59 affordable homes last year and has over 12,000 people on its housing waiting list.

    I for one was not left feeling good after this decision; a hollow victory for the NIMBYs and the bureaucrats if you ask me.

  3. Gary Reply

    What a shame. This sounds a great proposal. Let’s hope the developer can make some small changes which don’t take a long time and get on with building something here. Planning does seem to take forever!!! Get on with it!

  4. Valerie Paynter, Reply

    The developer only controlled a grassy fringe along the Kingsway and relied on Magnet for the space below it on Basin Road North to be incorporated in any new development.

    The online BHCC list of new planning applications registered last week indicates Magnet are not hanging about. They have an application in now to render its frontage.

    The long period of deliberation concerning Portzed is easily explained if one looks at the working case file the planning officer keeps. A lot of time was spent waiting for the developer to add required information and make decisions.

  5. Jack Cade Reply

    Well said VP. Planning is a convenient excuse for lazy/incompetent developers. Rather than put together a worthwhile scheme they often resort to spin and “celebrity” architects.

  6. Ross Reply

    Jack, utter nonsense, the developer in this instance spent over a year negotiating the application and after doing what he was asked to do by the planners, he apparently had the rug pulled from under him and the application recommended for refusal. Rather than sniping from the sidelines – rather like the planners and unqualified planning committee members themselves – why not provide some more constructive comments or input? Or maybe you’re just anti development full stop? Either way your comment is unhelpful and displays an arrogant and aloof attitude. If you could do so much better, come up with a ground breaking and innovative scheme yourself. Or perhaps not.

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