Planners agreed to the building of homes for 2,100 students on the Sussex University campus in Falmer this afternoon (Wednesday 3 August).
The principle of allowing so many homes had already been settled by a planning inspector at a public inquiry last year. The university had appealed after its original outline planning application was turned down.
The Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee also approved plans for a six-storey building to house the student union which will be used as a bar and entertainment venue.
The university has outgrown the existing student union building, Falmer House, the Planning Committee was told at a meeting at Portslade Town Hall.
The plans, contained in two applications, were approved unanimously.
The homes on the East Slope are part of a master plan which will see the demolition of hundreds of outdated student homes.
Overall more homes will be built, easing some of the pressure on demand off campus, the committee was told. All first year undergraduate students and some postgraduate students will be guaranteed a room on campus when the scheme is completed.
Councillors Phélim Mac Cafferty, Leo Littman and Carol Theobald expressed concern about the loss of some trees, including elms. And Councillor Adrian Morris was concerned about the bus stop layout.
Councillor Littman voted against the original plans but said that he liked what was now before the committee.
Councillor Lynda Hyde said: “This is to be welcomed – an increase in student accommodation.
“We all know the issue we have with students taking away our family homes and this will eliminate some of that. It’s a wonderful application.”
Councillor Theobald said: “It is a shame to lose some of the sylvan and green setting that was there in the first place.
“I know a lot of the trees are going to be replaced but they’re not the same as mature trees.
“I do think it’s good to have the accommodation especially for first year students on the campus.
“It should respect Sir Basil Spence’s architecture and the national park itself and I just hope it will do that.”
Councillor Mac Cafferty said: “The first time round I voted against it. In terms of what we’ve seen come back to the committee … I think they’ve done a very good job of listening. This is a very brave vision of the way forward.”
He also praised incisive summary of the scheme presented to the committee by planning officer Kate Brocklebank.
Michael Inkpin-Leissner, who represents the ward, Hollingdean and Stanmer, said: “I disagree that it will have a positive effect on the HMO (houses in multiple occupation) situation. It will just delay it for a year or two.”
Councillor Joe Miller, who recently graduated from Sussex, said: “I welcome this application. It’s a good thing for the city. The jobs and the graduates that come out of the university add to the city.
“The 1,800 units here will significantly help the city in managing its housing because the university – like or not – is expanding anyway. The government uncapped the number of places that universities can take.
“I’d like to Brighton University following the example of Sussex.”
He urged the university to retain as many trees retained as possible because one of the things that attracted students like him was the greenery of the campus.
Councillor Julie Cattell, who chairs the Planning Committee, said: “A year on we’ve got a fantastic result. I’m very pleased and excited and I just hope the diggers can get going as soon as possible.”
Afterwards the university registrar John Duffy thanked councillors and officials and said that he hoped work would start on the site early next year.
He said that the extra housing would help not just students but neighbours and the wider community by increasing the overall number of homes in Brighton and Hove.
He said that the university had tried to listen as far as possible to councillors, neighbours and the public in the debate about housing students and developing the campus.