‘Catalogue of Labour blunders’ to blame for King Alfred delays, says Tory councillor

King Alfred Leisure Centre – Picture courtesy of Wikiwand

A Conservative councillor has slammed what he calls “a catalogue of blunders” which have held up the King Alfred development, and which he says have cost the city £3million in lost council tax.

Councillor Robert Nemeth is calling for fellow members to formally censure the Labour administration in a notice of motion he is proposing at tomorrow’s (Thursday 12 December) council meeting.

The Hove councillor, who has asked repeated formal questions about progress on the site since 2015, is also demanding Labour appoint a named councillor to oversee the project.

Councillor Nemeth said: “I can’t think what exactly the Labour administration has been doing over the past three years to make this go so slowly.

“I personally would have given Crest the boot if they hadn’t signed on the line within a month of being picked in January 2016.

“Through a catalogue of blunders, the administration has allowed Crest to land-bank the King Alfred site for free – and wasted something like £3 million in the process.

“Had there been a councillor actually overseeing the process, or even a cross-party project board in place, all of this could have been avoided.”

Crest Nicholson was appointed as the preferred developer by the authority’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee in January 2016.

The original deal was supposed to be formally signed that summer – but after missing multiple deadlines a final deadline of 31 January next year was agreed at this month’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee.

Rising costs were blamed for the delay, even after £15 million was offered by the government through the Housing Infrastructure Fund towards the costs of the £400 million project.

In the background information to his notice of motion, Councillor Nemeth has pointed out no meetings of the King Alfred Project Board have taken place since mid-2016.

His motion states: “Each year of delay comes with an opportunity cost of approximately £1 million in uncollected council tax.

“Approximately £800,000 has already been spent by the council in pursuing the project.”

Speaking at the Policy, Resources and Growth Committee on 6 December, Council leader Councillor Daniel Yates said: ““This is not the first time a development has not proceeded on the King Alfred site.

“I am hoping this is the final solution for the King Alfred site and I am not going to turn it into a political football.”

Councillors will debate the notice of motion at the full council meeting at Hove Town Hall from 4.30pm on Thursday 13 December.

  1. Jean Smith Reply

    Crest’s track record is really poor in Brighton and Hove, especially when it comes to abiding by the policy on affordable homes, whether to rent or for shared ownership. We all know affordable homes are not really affordable. The situation hasn’t been helped by the council’s own rules, which effectively require pepper-potting, or the practice of trying to dot small numbers of affordable homes for rent around various new developments, rendering them too expensive to administer for any of the local housing associations because they prefer the sorts of blocks where they can benefit from economies of scale. Nonetheless, Crest will need to show good faith and act soon or completely lose their last shred of credibility. If this all collapses, it would be good to look again at the spec so Hove can have the 50-metre pool the area needs. Well done to Councillor Nemeth for keeping up the pressure on Crest and the council, neither of whom emerge with any glory from this debacle.

  2. Valerie Reply

    Owners landbank, not prospective developers. It is BHCC who have landbanked, if anyone has.

  3. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    It looks to me as if Crest is leaving the table, it’s out of the game.

    The lesson of the Carnegie Library fiasco is that there needs to be a change in the “officers” at work on the King Alfred.

  4. Susan Conway Reply

    It is not just this development which has been allowed to drift at the expense of the ratepayers but others as well. The planning delays in Brighton & Hove are notorious.

    The Council is not capable of running the City efficiently. They are likely to lose monies in respect of the I 365 project as well.

    They lost monies on the Brunswick development, and they leave vital matters such as repairing pavements in the Ward and the surface of the roads in a very poor and often dangerous state

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