Planners reject £80m scheme to build homes, shops and offices close to Hove Station

Posted On 21 Jun 2017 at 4:33 pm

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”.

The site of the proposed £80m Hove Gardens scheme

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.

The £80 million Hove Gardens scheme – an artist’s impression from Ethel Street

“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.

  1. The early delivery of 186 badly needed housing units and significant employment space.
  2. £1 million of environmental improvements in a long-neglected area of Hove.
  3. A £70 million investment in the local economy at a time of economic uncertainty.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

An artist’s impression of the Hove Gardens scheme from the steps to Hove Station

“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.

An artist’s impression of the Hove Gardens scheme

“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.”

  1. Valerie Paynter Reply

    The Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum exists for a single reason, with constituted recognition from BHCC TO CREATE A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN – a document to sit below the City Plan as something to be taken into a account when determining planning applications in the Plan Forum’s designated area.

    Most Plans take 18 months but this one has still to be put to the residents of the designated area in a referendum. Without a plan agreed by the residents in such a referendum, the Forum has no authority to act or speak on behalf of the residents (across parts of Wish, Westbourne, Goldsmid & Hove Park Wards, in this case)concerning planning applications.

    It has no authority or remit whatsoever to actually promote the plans of developers, which is what this Forum is doing!!!!!! If and when a final draft Plan is ready to be agreed by BHCC as fit to be put to a public referendum vote, it will end up just mirroring what site owning developers themselves are already doing or HAVE done.

    I’m pleased that the Report to the Committee pointed out the Forum’s limitations and deficiencies (even if the Committee were silly enough to consider the opinion of Mike Gibson as representative of the claimed 250 members (who only hear from the Forum about twice a year).

    I regret my part in starting that Forum with Gibson. I wasted 18 months on its Committee and 5 years on, have now withdrawn from association (membership).

  2. Michael Reply

    Is any building scheme ever going to go ahead in Hove? I doubt many will with the likes of Ms Paynter and her cronies still around. I don’t disagree with a certain amount of scrutiny but you are not speaking for all of us. These types of objections simply wouldn’t happen in more progressive cities. Time to look to the future.

    • Valerie Paynter Reply

      You cannot speak for what you call “progressive cities”. Name them? Define progressive? Give examples of free-hand development that does not have to comply with any planning law or policies?

      I did not speak for you or anyone else at Planning or in making my comment here. I just stated facts.

      I suggest you view the webcast of the meeting and read the planning documentation along with the Report to Committee and actually look at what is proposed, what the law and policies allow to justify your airily tossed out view implying that people should be able to build what they like where they like – in this case, even if it means compromising the existence of the bus company and Ethel Street commercial activity providing jobs there along with other issues.

      In the past I have been highly supportive of the Sackville Trading Estate scheme which has consent but won’t go ahead due to various factors and changes. Good stuff needs to be demanded and the City Plan and Local Plan exist to try to get things where they are needed and in the quantity needed that infrastrucure can TAKE without creating insoluble problems and wrecking the quality of life in an area as well as in any scheme. The quality of accommodation squeezed into this proposal is not great and changes had to be forced onto the developer just to get minimum room size standards compliance.

    • james Reply

      We don’t need these people in their homes preventing everyone else getting a home. Very selfish!!

  3. james Reply

    Perhaps those preventing the building of much needed homes should be forced into rented accommodation with a 6-month contract and shitty furniture/decor. They might then be more responsive to the needs of others.

  4. Valerie Paynter Reply

    James you DO realise that the flats would be £500,000 each don’t you? That most of the shared ownership ‘affordable’ involves hard to sell on and more expensive than Market flats? That the tiny handful of flats that would go for rental would be quite expensive rents too, don’t you? And not secure tenancies!

    Your comments are baffling. Just who of those without a home do you imagine these would be for? By Hove Station, they would likely attract commuters wishing to cash in their London places and move to the coast.

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