A £100 million scheme to build 450 student bedsits and 142 flats on the site of the old fruit and veg market in Circus Street, Brighton, has been approved.
The site will also include a seven-storey office building, a dance studio and teaching space for Brighton University, including a publicly accessible library.
The tallest of the 11 proposed buildings will be 13 storeys high and would include a roof terrace. Another will be 10 storeys high.
Members of Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee were told that the visual harm likely to be caused by the taller buildings would be outweighed by the scheme’s benefits.
Those benefits were said to include 232 full-time jobs, 170 construction jobs and economic gains worth £10 million a year from student spending.
The scheme is expected to be worth £200 million to the local economy over 10 years.
The 52-space Kingswood Street Car Park would be demolished, almost 50 on-street parking spaces would be lost and Circus Street would become narrower. But the scheme includes 38 parking spaces for cars and 605 for bikes.
The long derelict market – empty since 2005 – would also be demolished along with the old art school building and the wood store.
Neighbour Sue Crossley, who lives in the Milner flats, told the Planning Committee that it seemed like a done deal.
She said that 46 people, mainly in the Milner and Kingswood flats, had signed a petition opposing the scheme. In addition 33 people had written to the council to object to it.
Others opposing the plans included the Brighton Society, the Regency Society, the Kingscliffe Society, the North Laine Community Association and the Conservation Advisory Group.
Reasons for objections included the “overpowering” height and density of the scheme, with “dreary” 1960s style tower blocks, which would “recreate slum conditions” and permit overcrowding.
More than a hundred people wrote to the council to support the scheme which would “breathe new life into the area” and “improve an area with high levels of deprivation”.
Richard Upton, chief executive of the developer Cathedral, said: “I’ve been personally working on this scheme for eight years.”
He accepted that the scheme was “dense” but added: “This is the city centre after all.” And, he said, it was less dense than council policies permitted.
He said that the scheme had been modified after consulting neighbours.
The developer will pay £300,000 to mitigate the impact of the development, including on local schools.
Councillor Lynda Hyde praised planning officers Kathryn Boggiano and Mick Anson for their work on such an “enormous” scheme.
It was passed by 10 votes to 2 at Hove Town Hall this afternoon with councillors Les Hamilton and Bob Carden criticising the scheme for a lack of social rented housing.
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