Plans for almost 400 more student flats at a site in Brighton have been approved this afternoon (Wednesday 6 November) despite concerns about more pressure on parking.
The developer McLaren wants to put up a seven-storey building with 373 student bedrooms on a waste recycling site at the bottom of Moulsecoomb Way on the corner of Lewes Road.
It also wants to demolish St Francis of Assisi Church and replace it with a new church and community space.
And the firm said that its plans included workspace for small and medium-sized businesses which could bring up to 90 jobs.
About 12 people currently work at the site, the developer told members of Brighton and Hove City Council.
The £70 million scheme would also attract almost £700,000 in “developer contributions” for things like sport, leisure and open spaces, public art and sustainable transport.
The proposal was unanimously agreed by the council’s Planning Committee at Hove Town Hall where two ward councillors Kate Knight and Daniel Yates spoke for neighbours.
The Labour councillors said that residents were concerned about an influx of more cars and how this would make it even harder to find somewhere to park.
Councillor Knight said: “The overwhelming view of local people is that family homes are needed.”
Councillor Yates said: “They are all concerned about the parking impact of this development.
“Cars are the major concern – and the impact it’s going to have on them and their roads.”
Councillors were told that the developer had carried out a parking survey in the area but that this took place outside term-time so failed to reflect “peak demand”.
But one of the council’s planning managers Mick Anson said: “Highways safety would be improved by this scheme.”
He said that at the moment 100 waste lorries arrived every day at the site and their movements were “completely unmanaged”.
Another Labour councillor, Nick Childs, asked about the traffic risks posed to children attending Moulsecoomb Primary School, close to the site.
He was also concerned about the proposed loss of an elm tree – part of the national elm collection. He was told that a number of semi-mature elms would be planted in mitigation.
Conservative councillor Joe Miller said: “Most people generally don’t like student housing but I think they’d prefer it to a load of rubbish.”
He said that the scheme would be good for the local economy, especially if it did lead to the creation of more jobs.
Councillor Miller also felt that local roads would be safer as a result of the scheme although he regretted the loss of three trees.
Green councillor Leo Littman said: “This is by and large a very good proposal. What we’re getting is significantly better than what’s there at the moment.”
Conservative councillor Carol Theobald said that the scheme was too tall but Green councillor Sue Shanks said that it could have been higher.
Councillor Theobald regretted the loss of trees, particularly the elm, and would have like more parking to be provided.
She said: “The waste transfer centre is very noisy. This development would improve things for local residents.
“We need more homes in the city. Hopefully this will free up some family homes.”
She added that few people had written to the council to object to the scheme – just 15 – while dozens had written in support.
Councillor Shanks said: “The need for more student accommodation is overwhelming.”
She said that too many students were living in inappropriate, poor-quality accommodation.
And Labour councillor Tracey Hill, who chairs the Planning Committee, said: There are more upsides than downsides.”
After the committee unanimously approved the plans, McLaren Property development director David Atherton said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the result.
“As the councillors were saying, there are going to be many positive benefits including more jobs and a replacement fit-for-purpose church and community centre.”
Mr Atherton said that the 373 student beds would help take the pressure off local housing stock.
After two years of design and consultation work, he said that demolition work would probably not start before the new year after some preparatory work on site.
McLaren, which has three other student blocks in the Lewes Road area, hopes that building work will start next autumn, with the rooms occupied from September 2022.
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