A £260 million scheme to build more than 800 homes in Hove has been granted planning permission this afternoon (Wednesday 4 March).
But councillors said that they felt their hands were tied as they voted it through when just 10 per cent of the flats would be classed as “affordable”.
In all, the developer Moda Living can build 564 flats for rent and 260 retirement flats on the site of the Sackville Trading Estate and Hove Goods Yard, in Sackville Road, Hove.
Just 56 of the flats will be made available to people needing an “affordable” home, with rents set at 75 per cent of the market rate.
But Moda and the landowner Coal Pension Properties were accused of playing “hard ball” by one member of Brighton and Hove City Council.
At Hove Town Hall, the council’s Planning Committee was told that the latest application addressed the reasons for refusal given when a previous application was turned down.
But councillors did not seem convinced that the scheme was all that different as they were told that Moda had also put in an appeal after its initial plans were rejected.
A planning inspector is due to hear the appeal in April, with Moda having withdrawn the “affordable” housing element of the original application. It also wants it latest scheme to be placed before the inspector.
Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen, who represents Hove Park ward, spoke out on behalf of neighbours.
Councillor Bagaeen, a professor of planning, said that Moda and Coal Pension Properties had played hard ball with the council on the number of affordable homes.
Labour councillor John Allcock, who represents the neighbouring Goldsmid ward, said that there were 9,100 people on the council’s housing waiting list and the scheme “does not help them”.
He said: “This development does not contribute to the city’s real housing need. It’s 10 per cent of homes with 25 per cent off expensive rents. Affordable homes are one of our top priorities.”
Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said that he was disappointed that the scheme had not changed enough since last year and he also criticised the lack affordable housing.
But he said that he felt compelled to vote for the scheme because of the wider shortage of new housing in Brighton and Hove.
He said: “We do not have any choice. If the applicant is successful with their appeal, they will be able to do to things to our council and possibly sue us and I don’t think that will be worth it.
“I feel like my hands are tied I’m not very happy.”
Labour councillor Daniel Yates was also frustrated, saying that the council was being told that it could have its 10 per cent affordable housing as long as it did not ask again.
He said: “I very much feel I am being held over a barrel over this 10 per cent.
“I don’t like listening to the argument that if we oppose it, they won’t do it and we’ll get nothing and that 10 per cent is better than nothing.
“I understand it – and the city needs this site regenerated – but it also has a great deal of other needs that need to be met.”
He said that the positives outweighed the negatives but the plans looked like a massive university campus and did not recognise the nature of Hove.
Neighbour John Mitchell spoke on behalf of Artists’ Corner residents and voiced their concerns about the extra pressure on parking.
He also asked for a significant proportion of the “developer contribution” of £3.5 million to fund pollution control measures but was told that this fell outside the rules.
Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh voted against the plans. She said: “We need to send a message to developers that we want and deserve better for our city than this.”
Labour councillor Chris Henry, who manages Hove MP Peter Kyle’s office, said that people in the area wanted to the site developed and it “wasn’t going to get better than this”.
Moda Living plans to build 52 studios, 202 one-bedroom flats, 268 two-bedroom flats and 42 three-bedroom flats.
The scheme includes a retirement community of 260 homes, with 37 one-bedroom flats and 223 two-bedroom flats and communal facilities including a gym, swimming pool and library.
The “affordable” element works out as five studios, 20 one-bedroom flats, 27 two-bedroom flats and four three-bedroom flats.
The original plans were turned down in part because they included too many studio flats – and the number has been halved in the revised scheme. The latest version also includes more employment space.
Moda’s planning director James Blakey said: “We are absolutely delighted that Brighton and Hove have put their faith in our exciting vision for the regeneration of the Sackville Estate.
“The decision today will enable us, together with our partners, to revitalise a long-dormant brownfield site with new homes and employment opportunities, while also investing £10 million into the local community, including over £4 million on projects spanning education, employment, sport, public art and green spaces, alongside the creation of over 560 full-time jobs.”
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