A date has been set for a public inquiry into plans to build a thousand flats at Brighton Marina in nine blocks, one of which would be 28 storeys high.
The public inquiry has been scheduled to take place – virtually – on Tuesday 23 March.
And the outcome will be decided by the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, on the advice of a planning inspector.
A letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The appeal was to have been decided by an inspector (but) the Secretary of State considers that he should determine it himself.
“Instead of writing a decision, the inspector will prepare a report and recommendation, which will be forwarded to the Secretary of State.
“The reason for this direction is that the appeal involves proposals for residential development of over 150 units or on sites of over five hectares which would significantly impact on the government’s objective to secure a better balance between housing demand and supply and create high-quality, sustainable, mixed and inclusive communities.”
The appeal was lodged by the developer, the Outer Harbour Development Company, part of the Brighton Marina Company, because the planning application had not been decided within the statutory 16-week deadline.
At a Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee meeting shortly afterwards, councillors voted against the £350 million scheme, with one member dismissing it as a “Poundshop Dubai”.
After the Planning Committee spurned the scheme, Brighton Marina boss Andrew Goodall said that he was disappointed.
But he added: “Planning is subjective. I watched the meeting and we’re disappointed we didn’t win their backing although, overall, it was a very fair debate.”
Mr Goodall, chairman of the Brighton Marina Company, said: “Nobody minds feedback if it’s constructive.
“We will take it away and consider what we heard. Some of it resonated – and we’re humble enough to listen.”
At stake is the future of an eight-acre site at the western end of the Marina where the council previously granted planning permission for a 40-storey tower block.