Campaigners against the Portzed eco homes scheme in Hove have criticised planners for the way that the decision was made to approve the project.
And one the councillors who voted for the scheme has defended his decision saying that he did so only after careful consideration.
The Kingsway and West Hove Residents Association (KAWHRA) described the decision by the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee as “daylight robbery”.
They said that the ground floor of their homes would be in darkness for 19 weeks a year as a result of the shadow cast by the flats.
Mike Sharman, the chairman of KAWHRA, said: “We will now have to live with Portzed forever.
“I was disappointed and angered at the split decision of the committee to allow the Portzed development by ‘Harbour View’ property developer Colin Brace to go forward.
“I felt that the decision had already been made and the meeting became totally one-sided without any chance to put our very strong arguments forward, other than the meagre 90 seconds allowed for our very able spokesperson Sue Moffatt.
“No one queried the accuracy of the report. Not a single question was asked of Sue or me so we had no chance or opportunity to respond to the many inaccuracies we heard from the developer and his team.
“It felt like ‘daylight robbery’ or, to coin the phrase of one of our supporters present, ‘Next time I want to watch a farce I will visit the Theatre Royal instead!’”
Dr Sharman said: “All five of the Green Party voted in favour.
“They asked us no questions and mainly non probing ones to the developer about affordable housing and business opportunities.
“Ian Davey did ask a question about how much light residents would lose and Portzed’s planning agent gave an answer that referred only to solar panels, so gave completely wrong information, which wasn’t questioned.
“The Greens later statements showed that they supported Portzed and were prepared to sacrifice local existing houses and amenities.
“I was even more disappointed that, of the four conservatives, one abstained and two voted in favour. Only one voted against.
“I can’t understand how Graham Cox when he was on the (Economic Development and Culture Committee) voted in favour of the Aldrington Basin Brief amendment height restriction of 12m, then voted in favour of Portzed, 17.8m, at this committee.
“That City Plan Development Brief decision, made only six weeks ago, had been unanimous.
“The council will somehow now need to make Portzed an exception, already suggested by planning.
“Will other developments now be able to copy the Portzed height? The development brief will be mocked again.
“Only the Labour councillors asked some searching questions and all three voted against.
“Our own ward councillors, Anne Pissaridou and Garry Peltzer Dunn, who have supported us throughout, did their best in the 90 seconds allowed to each but had no remit to question.”
Dr Sharman said that the tallest blocks would be just under 18 metres high, one and a half times higher than the new Vega building in Kingsway. Local lamp posts stand 10 metres high.
He added: “Much play was made of the BRE which implied there was very little loss of light to existing homes.
“The fact that houses opposite will lose all sunlight to their ground floor for up to 19 precious winter weeks did not seem to impress the councillors, or rather, they chose to ignore it.
“KAWHRA has no choice but to accept this decision. There is no appeal for us.
“We are very disappointed but will now follow what happens over the next few years with interest and close inspection.
“I for one doubt that affordable housing will be possible given the high costs of building a new massive plinth along the south Kingsway in Hove.
“No housing association has as yet agreed to be involved.
“The blocks will be built one by one and will take years to complete with Kingsway becoming a traffic-choked builder’s yard for several years.
“We did have success in stopping Portzed 1 and its faulty wind turbine set-up.
“Without KAWHRA’s intervention it could well have been permitted on the basis of similar recommendations.
“It would have been indescribably worse. So at least that was an important victory.”
Councillor Cox said on his blog: “I thought very carefully about this (the decision to vote in favour) and realise that many people who live near by are against this development.
“I read every objection I was sent and all the comments forwarded with the very comprehensive report.
“The development is an improvement on the original proposal.
“We have a severe housing shortage here and I have an obligation to consider the needs of those local people who are finding it so difficult to get their own home in the city, especially key workers on average wages.
“This was a finely balanced decision which I assure you I did not take lightly.
“As you will be aware there was a recommendation from the professional planning advisers that this permission should be granted. In the end that was the telling factor for me.
“That recommendation meant that an appeal against a refusal would be virtually certain to be successful.
“I could have voted against in the knowledge that an appeal would be successful – and then simply blamed the planning inspector.
“That would have cost the council taxpayer thousands of pounds in costs and I felt it would not have been honourable on my part to do that.
“I appreciate you will not agree and understand your disappointment but I thought you should be aware of how carefully I considered the matter and why I reached the decision I did.
“Planning is not a party political matter – hence the Conservatives on the committee voting individually (two for, one against and one abstention in this case).”
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