Councillors approved plans for a roof terrace while putting in place conditions to protect a historic wall.
Conservationists and residents raised their concerns about the bungaroosh wall between George Street and Ventnor Villas in Hove.
They spoke out after plans were submitted to instal a new window and door, remove roof lights and instal cedar screening at 28 to 29 George Street.
Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee heard from Yogesh Patel, who spoke on behalf of neighbour Ernie Fortnum at a “virtual” meeting yesterday (Wednesday 2 September).
Mr Fortnum’s home in Ventnor Villas backs on to the 160-year-old wall.
Mr Patel said that neighbours objected to the terrace because it would result in a loss of privacy and increased noise.
He said: “If permission is granted, it would not preserve the character of the conservation area and would harm the conservation area.
“It is not in the public interest or protecting the environment this property is situated in.”
Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson, who represents the Central Hove ward, said that residents of Ventnor Villas were already aware of the creeping use of George Street flat roofs as terraces.
He said: “They have recently complained of increased noisy gatherings on flat roofs above some of the George Street properties.
“The proposed raised platform and privacy screen would have an adverse impact on the amenity and privacy of the neighbours and represent an overbearing form of development, resulting in an increased sense of enclosure to neighbouring properties.”
Councillor Wilkinson said that the proposals do not comply with the local strategic plan.
His fellow Labour councillor Clare Moonan, who also represents Central Hove, said that last year the council approved a similar application for a terrace at 53 George Street.
The application covered across the whole roof but the permission covered a reduced area to lessen the negative effect on neighbours.
She asked the committee to impose a condition that would bring the screen back by two metres to reduce the level of overlooking on neighbours.
Councillor Moonan said: “All new developments are expected to conserve and enhance the city’s archaeology and heritage.
“The beautiful 160-year-old wall, built traditionally of flint and brick is very fragile.
“It makes a huge contribution to the local heritage of the city and should be valued.”
Labour councillor Nick Childs voted against the scheme and said: “If we could have frosting on the glass, I would be inclined to support this as I think it would be a fairly benign proposal.
“As it is, I do have concerns about the wall and around the fact it is overlooking the houses behind.”
Planning officers said that there was no lawful reason why screening was necessary and it would be difficult to add a condition to move the fence back.
Huw James, from ECE Planning, for the applicant Geneva Investments, said that the screening was designed to improve privacy for people backing on to the property.
He said that the building’s tenant, the Flight Centre, surrendered its lease in March because of the coronavirus lockdown.
And Geneva Investments was now refurbishing the shop and creating two flats above.
Mr James said: “The alternative to this proposed screen is no fence or screen at all, which would be of no benefit to neighbouring properties or future residents in terms of increased privacy.”
He said that the company was happy to fix the screen to the terrace floor rather than the wall.
Seven councillors voted to approve the plans with just Councillor Childs voting against.
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