One of Britain’s wealthiest families will find out this week whether it will be allowed to build an extra floor – and three penthouse flats – atop a magnificent art deco block in Hove.
The Englander family runs Rimex Investments which has applied for planning permission to create a seventh storey at Hove Manor, in Hove Street.
An earlier plan was turned down by Brighton and Hove City Council in May last year for being too big and bulky and harmful to the Old Hove Conservation Area.
Rimex lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate but it was dismissed last October, with planning inspector Sylvia Leonard describing the scheme as “visually dominant” and detracting from the existing building.
A report to the council’s Planning Committee said: “The current application has adopted a revised design approach compared to the previous scheme in an effort to overcome the reason for refusal and the inspector’s concerns.”
Rimex wants to replace the caretaker’s flat with a couple of two-bedroom flats and a three-bedroom flat.
The three flats would have a slightly smaller overall footprint than the two three-bedroom flats and the two-bedroom flat in the earlier scheme.
The plans suggest that flats will be set back from the edge of the building on all four sides – and more so than in the previous proposal – reflecting the planning inspector’s criticism.
The report to councillors said that the windows would be smaller, aligned with those below and more in keeping with the existing building.
And the latest plan proposes a white render finish with brickwork chimney detailing rather than metal cladding.
Rimex has made enough changes to the design to win over officials who have recommended that the planning permission be granted.
Despite the changes, 27 objections have been sent to the council and just one letter of support.
One objector, whose details were redacted on the council’s website said: “This planning application has been submitted during this health crisis while we’re all busy looking after our families, our neighbours and our health.
“This type of development will not contribute to the housing shortage locally as they will be premium, not purchased by locals, and likely used for Airbnb, which is already causing issues in our city, and will definitely impact the quiet and calm of the building and surrounds.”
Another objector said: “The proposed development is at odds with the structural integrity of the building.
“It is not red brick as the existing building – presumably, this is due to the dangerous weight created by building in brick on a roof never designed to support this.
“The design is not in keeping with the original property which stands on a site of historic interest.
“As well as design flaws it presents a significant safety problem since the height will be above the approved height for safe evacuation by firefighters and the existing back stairwell will not provide an escape route for the new residents.”
The lone supporter wrote: “I fully support this development and hope planning don’t pander to the nimby element.
“I am already overlooked by the flats and don’t mind a few more people looking out of their window.
“The sun passes south east to south west and won’t cast any more shadow than it already does.”
The Englander family, who run Rimex and several other property companies, are worth more than £300 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
The art deco Hove Manor flats were built on the site of the old Hove Manor house which was demolished in 1936.
The council’s Planning Committee is due to decide whether to grant approval for the scheme at a “virtual” meeting starting at 2pm on Wednesday 5 August.
The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.