Planners have turned down an application to build a seven-storey block of 94 flats in a busy street in Hove.
RKO Developments applied for planning permission to demolish five Edwardian houses in Cromwell Road on the corner of Palmeira Avenue.
But the company was criticised for failing to consult councillors and neighbours and its £32 million scheme – like an earlier proposal for flats and a hotel – attracted considerable local opposition.
All three Goldsmid ward councillors addressed Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee to object to the plans at a “virtual” meeting this afternoon (Wednesday 2 September).
Labour councillor John Allcock criticised the developer for buying “sound houses” – initially to replace them with a hotel and then to profit from a “gross over-development”.
He said that the proposed homes would be beyond the financial reach of most people in Hove and would do nothing for the 9,500 people on the council’s waiting list.
Councillor Allcock said: “This is the worst type of opportunistic over-development which has been designed with a cavalier disregard for its impact on the neighbourhood.”
Fellow Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn described the proposed scheme as “dense, cheap, unattractive and over-high”.
She said: “The planning report on this application constantly states that there are issues that are not policy compliant but they can be over-ridden due to housing need in the city.
“I must ask: ‘What is the point of planning policy if it’s constantly ignored?’
“The loss of sunlight and daylight and private amenity for local residents, particularly those at the top of Holland Road and those opposite in Cromwell Road, are dismissed as being of little consequence.”
Green councillor Marianna Ebel, who also represents Goldsmid, criticised the “waste of resources” in demolishing five, sound buildings, particularly the recently rebuilt nursery at 64 Palmeira Avenue.
Councillor Ebel said: “Tearing down a newly built house is a waste of resources and contradicts our city’s aim to become carbon neutral by 2030.
“The development will also result in the loss of habitats and biodiversity as established gardens will be destroyed.”
Community representative Charles Harrison told councillors that nearly 200 people had objected to the scheme.
He said: “This – together with many other developments – puts greater pressure on our over-burdened schools, health services, highways and utilities.
“The design impacts on the Willett Estate Conservation Area. The Conservation Advisory Group also unanimously recommended refusal.”
Paul Ashwell, a barrister for Housing 21 and its residents in the neighbouring Bellmead retirement flats, in Holland Road, said that the scheme would overshadow the vulnerable people living there.
He said: “A less rushed, less invasive proposal with public consultation might have resulted in a proposal that would better meet the city’s housing needs and cause less harm.”
RKO’s planning agent Paul Jenkins said that the scheme would help the council reach its five-year target for building new homes.
Mr Jenkins said that the applicant had spent more than three years on the project, working with planning officers to make sure that it complied with council policy.
He said: “This is an opportunity to deliver much-needed homes in a sustainable location in the next five years. This will help the council turn around its five-year-housing supply deficit.”
He said that the scheme included green roofs, solar panels and more cycle parking than required.
Conservative councillor Joe Miller supported the plans and said that it was not councillors’ place to judge an application based on the number of objections but on planning considerations.
He said that the committee should be mindful of the cost of an appeal and added: “We do have a housing crisis in the city. We’re aiming not to have as many rough sleepers on our streets. The only way we’re going to do that is to build more homes.”
Labour councillor Nick Childs criticised a proposed “developer contribution” of £350,000 towards “affordable” housing elsewhere.
He said: “There are 94 units here and not one unit in this proposal is affordable. I think this is utterly disgusting. It’s an outrage.”
Councillor Childs added: “It’s sticking two fingers up to the people of our city.”
The Planning Committee voted seven to three to reject the scheme.
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