Hove neighbours are banding together to fight plans for a nine-storey tower block in their street.
Hove-based Imex Exhibitions says it has outgrown its Ellen Street home and wants to build new offices, a basement car park and 54 flats – ten of which will be affordable – on the site of the old Hyde Housing Offices in Davigdor Road.
But people living around the site say they are opposed to “crazy, Manhattan style tower blocks” and dozens have already objected since the planning application was registered last month.
Twenty four have written to object, and petition calling for buildings along Davigdor Road to be limited to six storeys launched on Wednesday 14 November has 47 signatures. Meanwhile, 16 people have written in support.
Campaigner Sam Goult said: “There’s strong community objection to the type and size of the buildings, as well as the lack of social housing.
“It seems like this is a common problem across Brighton and Hove right now.
“We aren’t against welcoming new neighbours, just crazy Manhattan style tower blocks that are out of character with what makes Hove, Hove.”
He also pointed to the Artisan flats development next door, where many flats are still empty. He said: “This seems like a copy-and-paste scheme and isn’t the right solution.
“This seems like the first domino of many that are going to fall in the whole Peacock Estate, with redevelopment of Wickes, Tapi Carpets and Spitfire House no doubt coming in the future.”
Goldsmid ward Labour Councillor Jackie O’Quinn has also objected to the plans, saying the exhibition for the application was poorly attended as very few residents knew about it and it was not clear where it was taking place.
According to developer Withdean Commercial, the property company set up by the Imex Group to develop the site, only ten people went along after 1,000 invitations were sent out.
She is also concerned about the lack of affordable homes. She said: “I was told due to the high cost of purchasing the land that the percentage of affordable housing would be nowhere near [the counci’s target of] 40 per cent. This response was deeply concerning.
“However, the flats are likely to be very expensive and even at 80 per cent of cost they would not be affordable to the majority of people who live in the city.
“This application, if granted, would most likely suffer the same fate as Artisan, where a tiny number of flats have been sold due to their high cost.”
In 2015, planning permission was granted to Hyde Newbuild for a staggered block of four, five, seven and eight-storeys with a mix of offices and 68 homes on what is now an empty site.
The block proposed by Imex is part five-storey and party nine-storey, and includes 894sqm of office space.
In its application the company said: “The Imex Group prides itself on being a truly local employer but with a genuine global reach.
“Of their 60 members of staff, 53 [88%] live within the Greater Brighton City Region with many using public transport to commute to work.
“However, the group’s business growth including new job creation is limited by the existing premises and a larger new office space in the region of 900 sqm is critical to the sustainability of the businesses.”
A Facebook Group called Hove Housing Futures bringing campaigners together was set up in late October.
A public meeting organised by the Hove Housing Futures group will be held at St Luke’s Church, Old Shoreham Road, from 8pm on Wednesday 21 November.