Plans for two blocks of student flats on a garage site have been approved by a stripped down planning committee despite fears they are too large.
Ninety-one studio flats are planned for the one to five-storey blocks on an irregular shaped plot behind terraced houses in Hollingdean Road, Brighton.
The committee consisted of just the chair, Labour’s Tracey Hill, Green councillor Sue Shanks and Conservative councillor Joe Miller, who voted two to one to approve the application at Hove Town Hall on Monday, 23 March.
A previous development off 88 studios was refused in March 2019 because it was too large, it overlooked neighbouring houses, had poor access onto the road and lacked disabled parking.
This time the number of flats is larger, but so is the site as the developer SE Properties Ltd has bought three neighbouring houses which it will demolish to make way for the new build.
Despite this, planning officers asked councillors to reject the scheme for similar reasons. They were also concerned that no university or college is officially interested in sending students to the blocks.
But the developer’s planning consultant, Simon Bannister from Lewis and Co, told the committee the company had made “soft approaches” to colleges.
He reminded the committee there are several other purpose-built student houses in the area, including Hollingdean House further up the same street and Vogue House on the gyratory.
Mr Bannister said: “This is high-quality student housing which helps to address the significant shortage of student accommodation in Brighton.
“There is huge pressure on family homes. This student built accommodation is taking the pressure off, and this was acknowledged by the executive director for housing at the Audit and Standards Committee.”
Councillor Miller backed the scheme last year and voted for it again.
He said: “It’s much-needed accommodation in our city.
“We are seeing our HMO (houses in multiple occupancy) increases fall off, which is welcome.
“I also think students are better managed in purpose-built blocks.”
Councillor Shanks was torn but voted for the scheme after deciding it was worthwhile “on balance”.
She said: “It is the application we have got.
“It might not be quite what we want, but we seem to have gone around the houses with it, and we need student accommodation.”
Councillor Hills was the only one to vote against it.
She said: “We have an application that has more of an impact on the properties that are already there. We shouldn’t say that it’s okay.
“The previous one stepped back and this one doesn’t. It’s just too big at the front.”