Users of the Hove Park Cafe say they are aghast that plans to demolish the building were approved behind closed doors with little or no consultation.
Last month, a new rule was passed stating that all changes to Hove Library should be decided by committee after controversial changes to its layout were approved under delegated powers by officers – and the rule could be extended to all council-owned buildings.
However, it will come too late for the Hove Park Cafe, which is to be knocked down and replaced with a larger, Japanese-inspired building, complete with pizza oven.
And two trees are also due to be felled, an elm and a cherry, with concerns that another cherry and a sycamore could also be affected.
Resident Bonny Holland, who can see the cafe from her home, said: “I’m concerned mainly that locals have had no input into this process. The alcohol licence was unopposed which is very surprising, plus trees will be felled.
“The architects were boasting on Twitter about their questionnaire. There were 80 positive comments on the planning site and not one objection which is strange.
“It was built in 1925, and nobody from Heritage or local history groups defended it in the application process which I think is sad.”
Hove Library campaigner Chris Hawtree said: “This slipped through planning on the quiet. And, as with the Carnegie Library, it has been done on the sly.”
The application was submitted by Gino Fox, whose Hove Park Community Cafe Ltd leases the building from Brighton and Hove City Council. His architects Koru said: “This Japanese-inspired rebuild of the Pavilion Tea House in Hove Park will provide a much larger indoor and outdoor seating area for the cafe, as well as a larger well-equipped kitchen and pizza oven.
“The [new] building is mainly constructed of timber and glass with a roof light providing natural light into the cafe. Its living green roof will disguise the cafe from the road view and embed it in its park setting.
“Long fixed benches and tables surround the interior and – as the cafe will be serving food and drinks into the evening – removal of some existing trees will allow late afternoon light onto the outdoor seating area.”
Planning officer Laura Hamlyn’s report, which recommended approval, said: “While the loss of the existing café would be contrary to policy HE10 [retaining buildings of local interest], mitigation has been offered provided an etched image of the pavilion café in the glazing to the front elevation.
“The proposed larger café would provide improved service to users of the park, and would result in only a small loss of open space.
“It is considered that harmful aspects of the proposal can be mitigated, and therefore the benefit of a larger café of a high standard of design is considered to outweigh the harm. On balance, the proposed development is recommended for approval.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The application was advertised on the weekly list and public notice (one on a post near the Pavilion Tea House, and another on a post Old Shoreham Road side of Hove Park). The statutory requirement for an application like this is either a public notice or letters to the adjoining addresses.”