Hove tower block plan wins officials’ support

Campaigners against high rises in Hove will try to convince councillors not to approve plans for another tower block next week.

Withdean Commercial Property’s plan to build 894 square metres of office space on the ground floor and 52 flats above on the site of the former Hyde offices in Davigdor Road has been recommended for approval by officials.

The developer is working with Hove-based Imex Exhibitions, which said that it had outgrown its Ellen Street offices and wants to build new offices, a basement car park and 52 flats on the old Hyde site.

But the final decision lies with the Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee which meets next Wednesday (12 June).

Members of the Hove Gold action group, formed in response to this and other high-rise developments in the area, spoke at the Planning Committee meeting in March against plans for 152 flats in four blocks for the neighbouring Peacock Industrial Estate in Lyon Close. The plans were approved.

The group was also concerned about yet more plans for blocks of 80 flats and a hotel on the corner of Cromwell Road and Palmeira Avenue which have yet to be decided.

The Withdean Commerical Property plans include 22 one-bedroom flats, 27 two-bedroom flats and three three-bedroom flats in an eight-storey block.

Twenty-one parking spaces are planned for the site, with nine for the offices and 12 for flat owners. Ninety cycle parking spaces are also planned.

The application has 49 anonymous objections and 17 letters of support on the council’s website.

One said: “It is an utter disgrace if you allow the over-development of this site. The Artisan (a neighbouring housing development) is a blot on the landscape and still empty.

“There has been no real employment created to replace the loss of jobs from Hyde Housing from the Happy Cell and later Graham Plumbing Trade Point and Howdens.

“We can’t park. We can’t get doctor’s appointments or dentist’s. The traffic will be horrendous. Don’t destroy this area any further.”

Another objector wrote: “Thirty flats have already been delivered by the building of Artisan next door and 168 flats are formally proposed in the industrial area immediately to the north of this site.

“It is understood that the P&H (Palmer and Harvey) building next door is also earmarked for conversion to residential flats.

“In total, therefore, this site is potentially bringing in the region of 300 new residential units to an already overcrowded city centre space, with no prospect of any additional service provision.

“The local school, which will be serving this site, already hosts 950 children and is the second largest in the country.”

Goldsmid ward Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn has objected, questioning the shortage of office space in the area by pointing out the Dubarry Perfume factory could not rent out its office space and the neighbouring P&H office block sits empty.

She also questioned the affordability of the homes, saying that the developer had not complied with the council’s policy for up to 40 per cent affordable homes in larger developments.

Councillor O’Quinn wrote: “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.”

The affordable element of the scheme would be five flats – a two-bedroom flats and four one-bedroom flat which would be in shared ownership.

Currently the developer is reviewing the profits from the scheme to see if it could pay the council for affordable homes off-site.

A commenter supporting the plans wrote: “This building fits in well with its neighbours and is the perfect place for much-needed housing in our city.

“Parking should be minimal as it has good walking and bus access to the centre.

“Many people will object to it simply because it is bigger than what was there before – with that attitude our city would quite simply not exist. I’m excited about its expansion and welcoming more people here. ”

Another supporter wrote: “It’s very important that we retain our local businesses and office space in Hove is sorely lacking.

“I support developments like this that will help us retain and grow existing businesses. It is crucial for the future for our children to support such investments.”

As well as providing affordable housing, if the application is successful the developer will be required to pay

  • £57,000 for sustainable transport
  • £137,000 for recreation and open spaces
  • £19,000 for an artistic component
  • £45,000 towards secondary and sixth form education
  • £25,000 for local employment
  • Use 20 per cent local labour during demolition and construction

None of the education money is going towards primary schools which are described in a report to the council’s Planning Committee as having sufficient spaces whereas both Blatchington Mill and Hove Park secondary schools are full.

Imex Exhibitions shares current and former directors with Withdean Commercial Property, and one with Brighton and Hove Albion.

The application goes before the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee next Wednesday (12 June). The meeting is due to start at 2pm at Hove Town Hall and should be open to the public.

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