Farewell Westows – children’s play centre in Hove to make way for 100 new homes – though not just yet
A popular children’s play centre is to close as 104 new homes are built in School Road, Hove.
Although no date has been set, Westows is expected to be operating until well into next year.
The revamped site, currently known as the Westerman Complex, will also include almost 600 square metres of office space.
The current two-storey brick buildings date from the 1950s and were described as unremarkable when the plans were discussed by members of Brighton and Hove City Council.
They were originally industrial and light industrial units and, as well as Westows, are currently home to a church, tool hire business and MoT test centre.
More than 180 people objected to the plans, submitted by Cross Stone Securities, a Crowborough company.
Councillor Robert Nemeth told the council’s Planning Committee at Hove Town Hall that the neighbours deserved praise for staying focused during the long gestation of the plans.
He also thanked the developer and his architect for the way that they had engaged with people living near the scheme despite the differences of opinion about it.
Councillor Nemeth said: “Many concerns remain. Bulk, scale and mass are principle concerns but overlooking is the real issue.”
He was concerned about the loss of business space – down from 5,000 square metres to 572 square metres.
And he also spoke about the loss of community space “hot on the heels of the YMCA going”.
Parking was also a concern. The Conservative ward councillor said that the proposed 93 spaces would not be enough, especially if the scheme managed to create the number of jobs promised.
His fellow Wish Ward councillor, Garry Peltzer Dunn, spoke about neighbours’ fears of a loss of privacy.
Planning agent Simon Bareham, from Lewis and Co, reminded the Planning Committee that it was only an outline planning application.
Mr Bareham said: The matter before you is the number of units and the layout.”
The detailed design and landscaping would be decided at a future date on a scheme which had been seven years in the making after a great deal of consultation.
He said that, as a mixed use scheme, with offices and housing, the parking would not all be needed at the same time and should be enough.
He added: “This could be available for everyone in about 2020.”
The Planning Committee was told that, under an agreement between the council and developers, 40 per cent of the homes would be for affordable shared ownership or rent, aimed at local people in housing need.
Approval permits up to 83 flats and 21 houses, comprising 48 one-bed units, 34 two-bed, and 22 three-bed. Permitted heights will be between three and five stories, depending on location within the site.
Developers will also pay £210,000 towards education in the area, £250,000 towards open spaces and indoor recreation, £74,000 towards sustainable transport and £45,000 towards improving public spaces, making £579,000 in total.
A residential travel plan includes two years’ free membership of a car club plus £250 to buy a bike or equipment. Ninety three parking spaces are proposed.
Twenty per cent of the workforce during demolition and construction should be local and the developers will also pay £35,000 to the council’s employment scheme.
Councillor Julie Cattell, who chairs the Planning Committee, said: “Again this application has seen us securing our top target figure of 40 per cent affordable housing for local people. It’s the right thing to do wherever possible.
“I also very much welcome the fact we’re able to retain jobs on this site in modern premises of a kind that businesses want.”
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