Planners have thrown out an £80 million scheme to build 186 homes as well as shops and offices close to Hove Station.
The developer Matsim Properties intends to appeal after the setback for its Hove Gardens scheme which it said was “the first phase of what we hope to be the new station quarter in Hove”.
Matsim’s plans include communal gardens, private roof gardens, shops and business workshops at street level and 21,500 sq ft of grade A office space.
Matsim said: “There will also be a significant investment in to the public realm in the area and a roof garden for public use in the better seasonal months.”
Officials from Brighton and Hove City Council urged planners to turn down Matsim’s planning application because it included too little affordable housing.
But Hove Station Neighbourhood Plan co-ordinator Mike Gibson made a heartfelt plea to the council’s Planning Committee.
He said that – unusually for a big scheme of this sort – there was widespread local support, not least so that the regeneration of a rundown area could begin.
Mr Gibson said: “The Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum has some 250 members and we strongly support this application.
“We are authorised by the city council to prepare a statutory neighbourhood plan which will enable the local community to have a real say in the large-scale regeneration of the Hove Station area.
“Our three years of voluntary neighbourhood planning activity has included working on this project with the applicant in parallel with the unprecedented community engagement activities.
“Your officers provide just one reason for refusal – a deficit of 12 affordable homes. Thirty five are offered but 47 are required by the district valuer’s consultant.
“The 12-unit deficit is the difference between a regeneration kick-start or a non-start.
“Officers argue that there are no significant mitigating factors which would justify accepting the lower amount.
“The local community’s view is that there are at least seven mitigating factors.
- The early delivery of 186 badly needed housing units and significant employment space.
- £1 million of environmental improvements in a long-neglected area of Hove.
- A £70 million investment in the local economy at a time of economic uncertainty.
- Approval will pave the way for the comprehensive redevelopment of the whole Conway Street area. After three years neighbourhood planning work, this approach now has local community support – a unique situation for large-scale redevelopment projects in the city.
- City Plan policy DA6 requires 200 housing units in the Conway Street industrial area. At 40 per cent, this is a target of 80 affordable units. The application site is only 12 per cent of the area but it will deliver nearly half this target. The remaining 45 affordable units can be delivered in subsequent phases of comprehensive redevelopment as envisaged in the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
- Approval would take full account of the innovative neighbourhood planning efforts of local residents, ward councillors, Peter Kyle MP, the neighbourhood forum and landowners. It would kick-start the regeneration of the area and give a decisive impetus to the work needed to complete the neighbourhood plan.
- Refusal will mean that the existing massive shed and rundown streets will remain for many years, blocking the co-ordinated high-quality mixed use redevelopment the local community wants and needs.
“For all these reasons the forum urges the Planning Committee to approve this application and so turn the key that will finally unlock the regeneration of the Conway Street area.”
Objector Valerie Paynter, from Save Hove, said: “I agree with putting taller buildings on sites north of the Clarendon and Ellen Estate for scale and sunlight reasons. But not so the estate low-rise flats lose morning sunlight in summer.
“And not so that kitchens and bathrooms on the north face of Livingstone House lose 35 per cent of their light level as the report indicates so many will.
“Housing here makes sense but not for wealthy incomers escaping London who will just further inflate the population.
“No amount of section 106 (developer contributions) will get them a GP when surgeries are closing.
“The Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum Committee, Regency and Hove Civic societies and CAG (the Conservation Advisory Group) think five times the density level recommended by the City Plan is acceptable on this small, narrow, less than half a hectare site.
“And that’s without the office space.
“That is Hong Kong slum-level density and it’s inhumane.
“There is no consultation response from the bus company … The bus garage access is from Ethel Street and buses park along it, often with their engines running at night.
“This is a longstanding issue for both the Ethel Street businesses and Livingstone House residents. It is also an air quality issue for proposed residents of this colossus. It is an unacknowledged reason for refusal.”
She highlighted traffic, parking and other infrastructure problems, adding: “The junction of Newtown Road and Fonthill Road is a notorious blackspot not addressed by the application.
“Fonthill Road itself is a wild rat run for boy racers. Traffic backs up along Clarendon Road in rush hour. It’s a through road 24/7.
“Fonthill Road is used by heavy lorries to bypass Sackville Road, creating a lot of difficulty as they negotiate the turnings by Clarendon House.”
As Simon Lambor, from Matsim, left the council chamber at Hove Town Hall after the 9-2 vote against the scheme, he said: “See you at appeal.”