Planners back flats in place of Victorian Brighton school buildings

A councillor lambasted a college for not having included any “affordable” housing in plans to replace Victorian school buildings with more than 100 flats.

The Met’s old Victorian school buildings are to be demolished and replaced by flats

Labour councillor Nick Childs accused the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College (GB Met) of a “gross neglect of civil duty”.

And he said that snubbing the council’s policy of encouraging affordable housing was an outrage and an affront to the people of Brighton and Hove.

The college – formerly known as City College and previously Brighton Technical College – is selling two 19th century school buildings and a 1930s addition.

The older buildings were among several in Brighton to have been designed by the architect Thomas Simpson and the oldest – the York building – originally housed the York Place Elementary School.

Now, the York and Trafalgar buildings, along with the newer Cheapside building, are due to be demolished to make way for 135 flats to help fund the extension to the main college building on the other side of Pelham Street.

The almost-complete £16 million extension, on the south side of the further education college’s tower block, will be home to a new creative and digital industries training centre.

Councillor Childs spoke out during a virtual meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee yesterday (Wednesday 13 January).

He said: “Architecturally, I think it’s vulgar and nasty. You’re pulling down one of the Simpson Brighton and Preston and Hove School Board buildings and replacing it with a block of flats that could be anywhere.

“The thing that really concerns me is what I can only conclude to be a gross neglect of civil duty by those involved in this development.

“A development of this size without one affordable housing unit is an affront and an outrage to the people of this city.

“I think it’s outrageous – and what irony that a piece of land that was owned and paid for by the ratepayers of this city and handed over to the private entity of the college in 1992 is now being disposed of and nothing being given back in return.”

Councillor Nick Childs

Green councillor Sue Shanks was also concerned about the lack of affordable housing in the new six-storey blocks flats.

But she said: “They have said it’s because they’re building the college that it is not viable for affordable housing rather than (because they are) lining their pockets.

“I suppose it’s a more worthwhile exercise. It is a real shame to see the old building go. I know it is not viable.”

She voted to grant planning permission for the scheme because of the need for housing in Brighton and Hove.

The Planning Committee’s legal adviser Hilary Woodward said that the issue of affordable housing had been dealt with at a previous meeting more than two years ago.

The committee granted outline planning permission for the project in December 2018, with Green councillor Lizzie Deane raising the lack of affordable housing at the time.

The Met’s creative and digital skills centre takes shape, opposite the 19th century Trafalgar building, right, in Pelham Street in Brighton

And former Conservative councillor Linda Hyde also questioned the proposed demolition of the historic school building as part of the scheme at the earlier meeting.

Yesterday, Conservative councillor Joe Miller said: “This is a good application as it is increasing the number of housing units in the city.”

The detailed plans included one studio, 57 one-bed flats, 65 two-bed flats and 12 three-bedroom flats.

They were submitted by a developer called Fishbourne Number 3, which is owned by a Reigate company called Rosewood Development Holdings.

The committee granted planning permission although Councillor Childs voted against as did Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    We can only shudder at a world in which an Application is made by “a developer called Fishbourne Number 3, which is owned by a Reigate company called Rosewood Development Holdings”.

    • bill Reply


      It’s standard practice for every decent sized property development company to create a new company for each project they undertake to ensure that if things go wrong that it doesn’t cause the main holding company to collapse and put everyone out of work.

      Quite sensible really as it protects jobs, everyone does it.

  2. Rob H Reply

    Normally I’d be against this move but I actually think the Victorian buildings are unattractive and detrimental to the area. Not all old buildings are good – though many are.

  3. Chaz Reply

    Nick Childs the Momentum Councillor who sends his daughter to Roedean.

  4. Chris Reply

    It seems impossible to get affordable housing included in developments. Can we move on from the programmed rage and vitriol when developers choose to not give away money.
    I think that the only way a social housing shortage will be addressed is by building more council owned homes.
    So why can’t this happen ?

    • Marianna Reply

      How many of the flats will be allocated as social housing?

  5. Bear Road resident Reply

    Ironic really when a member of Momentum ‘lambasts’ the lack of affordable housing whilst the property company owned by the founders of the same movement are allowed to build yet another unwanted student tower block on the Lewes Road rather than, say, affordable housing for local people – says it all about the complete lack of any form of socialism in momentum and to quote Nick childs in the article above “A complete lack of civic duty…”

  6. James Reply

    “Affordable housing” and contributions to the council have to be paid for by those buying the flats. So they just put the purchase price up for everyone e.g 1st time buyers.

  7. Hove Guy Reply

    The Met’s creative and digital skills centre takes shape, opposite the 19th century Trafalgar building, right, in Pelham Street in Brighton.
    But creative it is not. It is yet another nondescript, characterless complex to clutter up an already architecturally bereft Brighton and Hove.

  8. CT Reply

    The horse has well and truly bolted to make such token complaints hasn’t it?! The college practically bankrupt because of the extension, local residents having their lives seriously impaired by what will end up being 2+ years of construction noise (during lockdowns). Still the construction company gets paid, and I wonder if anyone on the planning committee got a ‘lil something under the table?……

  9. Lp Reply

    The college is broke, they must sell.
    A developer steps in, they are only going to build something to make money, that’s business.

    First time buyer “affordable housing” is not truly affordable anyway.

    The failing is with our government.

    What could happen is the government takes over the property, hands it over to a community land trust, and funds the college.

    The government are not taking action on serious issues. We had a massive period of austerity and now we’re in a pandemic. We need nationwide change from the government. But, the selfservatives are completely disconnected from reality and instead are planning spending ridiculous amounts of money on things like a costly holocaust memorial in London.

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